Aurora will be aiming for its fourth straight playoff appearance and fifth since 2000 this season. This season, the Greenmen return 14 starters from last year’s 9-2 team and are hopeful in getting back to the state tournament.
Aurora 2007 Record: (9-2)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
OT/DE Adam Bellamy (6-4, 275, Sr.), WR/CB Dee Brizzolara (6-0, 170, Sr.), QB Brendan Gallagher (6-1, 175, Sr.), TB Steve Young (5-8, 175, Sr.), OLB Charlie Haney (6-0, 175, Sr.).
Aurora will be aiming for its fourth straight playoff appearance and fifth since 2000 this season.
The Greenmen return 14 starters from last year’s playoff team, including quarterback Gallagher the team’s leading receiver Brizzolara.
Gallagher threw for over 1,600 yards and rushed for 600 more yards last year and Brizzolara broke the school record for receptions and receiving yards in 2007.
Yung, a three-year starter, tallied 800 yards rushing and 300 yards receiving in last year’s campaign.
“On offense, our skill positions are solid but we’re just going to hope our line comes through,” said head coach Bob Mihalik.
Bellamy, who accepted a scholarship offer to Ohio State in early June, anchors the offensive line and headlines an experienced and talented defensive line.
“Adam Bellamy will be the leader on both lines,” Mihalik said. “Anytime you have a kid going to Ohio State, obviously, he is going to be a leader for you.
“We are real confident in the defensive line and have a lot of good, returning kids coming back.”
Kevin Carroll is another cog on the defensive line with Bellamy.
“Those two guys are going to be tough,” Mihalik said.
The offensive line, however, lacks some depth, according to the eight-year head coach.
“(The offensive line) is probably our weak point of our team,” he said. “That is where (Bellamy) is really going to have to lead some young kids and step up.”
Haney was Aurora’s second leading tackler on defense last year.
Aurora made the state tournament in 2006 with an experienced team, but despite returning two-thirds of his starters, Mihalik is cautiously optimistic going into the season.
“With us it is always about injuries and staying healthy,” he said. “When we made the Final Four two years ago, every bounce went our way. Sometimes times those things have a way of balancing out.”
The Greenmen have won four straight Chagrin Valley Conference titles, including co-champs with league foe Perry last year. The Sept. 12 match up with the Pirates could decide the league again.
Perry handed Aurora its only regular season loss last year.
Aurora opens the season at home against a solid Avon team, which will be featured as the Thursday Night FoxSports Game of the Week.
“Because of our schedule, we’re confident but at the same time you know we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Mihalik said.
But having those extra weeks of practice the past four years will be an advantage for Aurora getting through the tough non-conference schedule.
“We’ve had eight extra games just over the last two years and that is almost a full year of practice,” said Mihalik. “Our young kids get to practice more when we make the playoffs and that is beneficial in their development.
“Success breeds success and I think our kids expect to win now,” he added. “Our kids that are seniors now – all they know is winning the league and making the playoffs and expect that to happen. But at the same time it is our job as coaches to work hard and do all the little things to reach those goals.”
Aurora’s first win of the season will mark Mihalik’s 50th victory leading the Greenmen.
“We’re real proud of what we have accomplished and it didn’t happen over night. We struggled the first few years and we were a pretty mediocre team,” he said. “But we knew we were heading in the right direction. It wasn’t a quick fix and we did some things at the youth level and the middle school level to build the program and now we’re seeing the fruits of that labor.
“We have a great coaching staff and work well together. It is just a big football family and we all take pride in that and the whole community is behind us.”
8/29 at Mantua Crestwood
9/5 at Twinsburg
9/26 at Chagrin Falls Kenston
10/03 West Geauga
10/10 at Chagrin Falls
10/17 Pepper Pike Orange
10/24 at Wickliffe