Malvern poised to make deep playoff run; Defense, QB strengths

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Malvern Football

In nine years at Malvern, head coach Dave Tucci has led the Hornets to
55 wins and three playoff appearances, the most recent coming last year. One absence for the coach, though, is a playoff win. That could come this season. Losing its three games last year by a total of nine points, Malvern
returns enough
to challenge for an Inter-Valley Conference championship and deep
playoff run.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

QB/DB Tyler Tucci (6-2, 185, Sr.); OT/DT Brady Sickles (6-3, 295, Sr.); G/DT John Warner (5-11, 190, Sr.); LB Tyler Masters (5-10, 170, Sr.); DE Collin Brown (5-11, 185. Sr.); DB Andrew Gascan (5-11, 160, Sr.); OT/DE Brett Lee 6-2, 230, Jr.); LB Doug Wood (5-10, 170, Jr.)

SEASON OUTLOOK

2007 Record: 8-3, Regional quarterfinalist

In nine years at Malvern, head coach Dave Tucci has led the Hornets to 55 wins and three playoff appearances, the most recent coming last year.

One absence for the coach, though, is a playoff win. That could come this season.

Losing its three games last year by a total of nine points, Malvern returns enough talent – especially on the defensive side of the ball – to challenge for an Inter-Valley Conference championship and deep playoff run.

“The potential is there to have a big season,” Tucci said. “Even though we lost some great skill players, we return a number of good football players.”

The Hornets return nine starters on a defense that allowed 13.3 points per game in the regular season last year.

The front seven is solidified by seniors Brady Sickles (DT, 6-3, 295), John Warner (DT, 5-11, 190), Tyler Masters (LB, 5-10, 170) and Collin Brown (DE, 5-11, 185) and juniors Brett Lee (DT, 6-2, 230) and Doug Wood (LB, 5-10, 170).

Warner (42 tackles), Masters (50 tackles), Brown (42 tackles) and Lee (34 tackles) each had three sacks last year, while Wood racked up 49 stops and an interception.

In the secondary, standout seniors Tyler Tucci (6-2, 185) and Andrew Gascan (5-11, 160) are back. Tucci, a first team All-Ohio DB, had 41 tackles and six interceptions a year ago.

“Our defense should be improved,” Dave Tucci said.

Offensively the Hornets have holes, but they also have experience where it counts – on the line and under center.

Tucci, a four-year starter at quarterback, is coming off a junior campaign in which he completed 78-of-140 attempts for 1,315 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. Tucci, a 1,000-point scorer in basketball, is closing in on seven career passing marks.

“Tyler will lead us and we return a solid offensive line.” Dave Tucci said. “We will be somewhat inexperienced at the skill positions, but we have capable kids there.”

The Hornets also have an edge on the sideline with Tucci. Malvern’s schedule includes seven teams with new head coaches.

The schedule also includes the annual IVC rival games with Sugarcreek Garaway (Week 8) and Ridgewood (Week 9). The Hornets are 2-10 against the Pirates and Generals since 2002 with one win against each.

Lowellville replaces Columbiana on the docket in Week 1.

SCHEDULE

8/22 LOWELLVILLE (VI)
8/29 @ ATWATER WATERLOO (V)
9/5 @ EAST CANTON (VI)
9/12 STRASBURG-FRANKLIN (VI)
9/19 @ NEWCOMERSTOWN (V)
9/26 NEW PHILADELPHIA TUSCARAWAS CENTRAL CATHOLIC (VI)
10/4 @ BOWERSTON CONOTTON VALLEY (VI)
10/10 @ SUGARCREEK GARAWAY (V)
10/17 WEST LAFAYETTE RIDGEWOOD (V)
10/24 MAGNOLIA SANDY VALLEY (IV)

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