North Royalton facing heightened expectations after playoff berth

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North Royalton Bears

The Bears took a major step in 2007, reaching the playoffs for the
first time and accumulating the most wins at the school in a single
season since at least the 1940s.

Said coach Nick Ciulli: “Our expectations are way higher than in past seasons. We feel we can
play with anybody on our schedule. We have to take the next step and
win a playoff game.”


PLAYERS TO WATCH

QB Ryan Lehotsky, SS/WR Sean Holdmeyer, TE/DE Dan France, NG Frank Medancic

SEASON OUTLOOOK

2007 Record: 9-2, Regional quarterfinalist

The Bears took a major step in 2007, reaching the playoffs for the first time and accumulating the most wins at the school in a single season since at least the 1940s. North Royalton was fifth in the Region 1 computer rankings. But the Bears’ season came to an end with an opening-round playoff loss to Solon (26-7).

“We plan on winning another (Northeast Ohio Conference) title and on going back to the playoffs,” said coach Nick Ciulli, who returns for his fourth year at the helm after posting a 16-15 record in his first three years. “Our expectations are way higher than in past seasons. We feel we can play with anybody on our schedule. We have to take the next step and win a playoff game.

“We know we cannot hide from anyone anymore.”

Lehotsky was 7-0 as the starting quarterback last year, while Holdmeyer tallied five interceptions.

The 6-6, 260-pound France, a second-team All-Ohio pick last year, has some major colleges interested. France, rated as Ohio’s No. 33 prospect according to Ohio High magazine, had 11 sacks as a junior. He had offers from the likes of Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, N.C. State, Northwestern, Purdue, Stanford and Vanderbilt.

Medancic is a three-year starter at nose guard.

North Royalton lost some key contributors off last year’s playoff squad, including Gus Armbruster (Lake Erie College), Kyle Kordich (Lake Erie College), Bryan Metlesitz (Case Western) and Stefan Mitrovic (University of Chicago).

Notable games for 2008 include the opener Aug. 22 opener with Brecksville (for the “Golden Shoe”), Sept. 25 against Twinsburg (Fox Sports Net game of the week) and the Oct. 24 game at Parma Normandy (the teams played for the conference championship last year).

SCHEDULE

Aug. 22 Brecksville
Aug. 29 at Richfield Revere
Sept. 5 Cleveland John Marshall
Sept. 12 at Elyria
Sept. 19 Cuyahoga Falls
Sept. 25 Twinsburg (7 p.m., Fox Sports Net Ohio)
Oct. 3 at Lyndhurst Brush
Oct. 10 Parma Heights Valley Forge
Oct. 17 Parma
Oct. 24 at Parma Normandy

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