PLAYERS TO WATCH
DT Zach Stocum (6-3, 240, Sr.), QB Kyle Shafer (5-10, 175, Sr.), RB Josh Denner (5-10, 185, Sr.), WR-CB L.T. Smith (6-0, 170, Jr.), MLB Jake Stinson (6-1, 205, Sr.)
2007 record: 7-4, Regional quarterfinalist
Ryan Wolf takes over as the new head coach at Painesville Riverside. He was the defensive coordinator the last two years. He replaces Matt Jordan, who is the new head coach at Grove City.
“I have been coaching here for three years,” Wolf said. “This will be my fifth season of coaching overall. I am really excited about this opportunity. The way it turned out, we were able to maintain some continuity.
“I had interviewed at some smaller schools for some head coaching positions. But when this job opened up, they asked me to stay. I was kind of lucky the way it all worked out.”
Riverside was eighth and final seed in the Region 1 playoff standings last year. The Beavers dropped their regional quarterfinal game to eventual state runner-up Mentor 38-17.
Wolf welcomes back just three starters on offense and one on defense.
“I think we can still be pretty solid defensively,” Wolf said. “In the past, we had years where our defense carried our offense. This year, it might be flipped around a bit.”
Stocum would be the one returning starter on defense.
“We have Stocum and we think we can be pretty solid up the middle,” Wolf said. “Our middle linebacker (Stinson) got a lot of playing time even if he wasn’t technically a starter. He is a guy that we expect will do a lot of things.
“In the secondary, our three senior safeties and three senior corners are all gone. There isn’t anybody out there who got much varsity experience last year. The secondary is going to be a bit of a question mark. But I think we’re going to be OK.”
Offensively, Wolf said Shafer will be the top candidate at quarterback. He threw for 800 yards and rushed for 300 in limited action last year.
“The year before, we made the playoffs and that’s about when Shafer first took the job,” Wolf said. “He was our starter early last year but then he got hurt. He came back and split some time.
“The way he played to end the year last year – our last three or four games – he started getting into a groove. He understands the speed of the game. We are really counting on him.”
Wolf talked about Riverside’s schedule for 2008.
“In week 1, we play Perry,” he said. “They are a Division IV team and our crosstown rival. They beat us 41-14 last year. That’s something we have got to change. Our number one goal is to go out and beat them. They were one of the best teams we played. They are a small school, but they have a good program and they always do things the right way.
“In (the Premier Athletic Conference), Willoughby South will definitely be very good. They have Patrick Nicely back for his third year as their starting quarterback. Chardon is also always good. Those two teams will probably be the top two to contend with. Madison was a playoff team last year, but they lost almost everybody.”
Aug. 22 Perry
Aug. 29 at West Geauga
Sept. 5 at Painesville Harvey
Sept. 12 at Geneva
Sept. 19 Jefferson
Sept. 26 Lakeside
Oct. 3 at Willoughby North
Oct. 10 Chardon
Oct. 17 Willoughby South
Oct. 24 at Madison