PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Billy Urban (6-1, 180, sr.), RB Tommy Hallal (5-10, 180, sr.), WR Luke Cangelosi (5-10, 165, sr.), DT Marc McDonald (6-2, 285, sr.), LB Will O’Brien (6-0, 220, sr.), DL John Young (5-11, 270, jr.)
2007 Record: 9-3, Regional semifinalist
Once a team without much of a playoff tradition, Gates Mills Gilmour Academy has become a fixture in the postseason in recent years. The Lancers have put together an impressive streak of postseason appearances and a strong overall record to help create a new tradition of football success.
“We’ve been in the playoffs five of past six years,” head coach Bob Spicer said. “Prior to that, there was only one time in history that Gilmour played in the playoffs and never won a playoff game. We were able to string together 27 victories a few years back in a row, and then five of six playoffs, so it’s been kind of an uptick in the type of play that we have. I guess we’re pretty pleased with the development of the program.”
2007 was another very successful season for the Lancers, who posted nine victories and a playoff win.
“As always with a school at Division V, a small school like ours, you go into a season with some concerns about numbers and injuries, and for the first time in a while, we were able to escape the injuries, and we had enough people to play on both sides of the ball where we platooned, and that helped us improve as the season went on,” Spicer said. “Subsequently, we only lost the one game against Warrensville. We did get in the playoffs and won our first game, then ran into a very good North Lima South Range team and could not stay up with them. Overall, we were fairly pleased with the results of the season. Our four-year starting tackle Matt Mihalik was able to get a full football scholarship to the University of Virginia, and three other seniors will be playing college football next year.”
Mihalik’s graduation – along with the graduation of the rest of the offensive line – leaves Gilmour with some areas of need coming into the 2008 campaign, but a quality group of returning players at the skill positions and other areas gives Gilmour some great tools to work with.
“All in all, it was a pretty satisfying year, but there’s going to be some big holes to fill going forward,” Spicer said. “Our entire offensive line has graduated, but we do have just about all our skill players back including one of the better quarterbacks around in Billy Urban (1,400 yards, 23 touchdowns) and our tailback Tommy Hallal, who had 25 touchdowns last year and was first-team All-State Division V, so we’re pleased with that.
“Plus we’ve got a good receiving corps led by Luke Cangelosi, another returning starter, and a crop of defensive players – a defensive tackle Mark McDonald, a linebacker Will O’Brien, and another middle guard John Young. All these kids are quality players and will be the core group for what we think will hopefully be a good season.
“Once again, we’re not certain because we have to stay healthy. We have some major holes to fill on the offensive line. If we’re able to find some people there, we should be okay.”
Spicer feels that the return of Urban and Hallal will give the team some excitement on offense, although depth is a concern.
“I think we’ll be able to throw the ball pretty well because of the quarterback we’ve got back and some skilled receivers and some good speed,” he said. “And of course, we’ve got a pretty good weapon in Tommy Hallal. All that is pretty exciting. We’ll have pretty good team speed. The concern is if one or two of these guys get injured, then we will be in trouble, and clearly we need to find some guys to block for these good skill players.”
The Lancers face a schedule with a lot of familiar teams and one of the state’s best athletes.
“Our schedule remains pretty much the same,” Spicer said. “In the past, I think some of the teams that we always seem to have problems with, and that’s Hawken and Warrensville Heights, are in our area here. Cleveland Central Catholic will be much improved. We know that we play some Division II and III teams east of us here in Geneva and Jefferson, all fairly good teams, and Painesville Harvey has a kid that I believe is the number one recruit in the state of Ohio and signed with Ohio State early, I believe his name is Chris Fields. They’re coming into our field this year, and that will be a good game. It’s a strong schedule; if we do well, we think the schedule lends itself for us to get back into the playoffs.”
Overall, things continue to look positive for the Lancers, who seem to have a solid foundation in place for continued success.
“We’ve had the overall support from the Gilmour community and some pretty good players,” Spicer said. “I believe at the present time we have 12 players playing football in college right now. We’ve got a veteran coaching staff, some coaches that have been around for 30-plus years. We range in age from the 50’s to 81, so we’re a veteran staff. The support we get from the school administration and the entire school student body has been very positive, and that’s helped us quite a bit.”