Tallmadge was the No. 2 seed in Division II, Region 5 last year and the Blue Devils return one of the state’s top running backs in Tyler Fortner who had 1,600 rushing yards and 20 TDs last year.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
RB/DB Tyler Fortner (5-11, 190, Sr.), QB Paul Pakan (6-1, 185, Jr.), FB/LB Nick Thompson (5-11, 220, Sr.), OL/DL Zack Cevasco (6-2, 270, Sr.), TE/DE Andrew Roy (6-3, 220, Sr.), OL/NG Nick White (5-8, 190, Sr.), WR/DB Craig Siesel (5-8, 160, Sr.), PK James Plunket (5-10, 165, Sr.).
2007 Record: 9-2, Regional semifinalist
Tallmadge was the No. 2 seed in Division II, Region 5 last year and the Blue Devils return one of the state’s top running backs in Fortner who had 1,600 rushing yards and 20 TDs last year. Thompson was the team’s leading tackler last year and Roy led the squad in tackles-for-loss.
Tallmadge must replace first-team All-Ohio DB Patrick Pakan (who was also the starting QB and is now at Brown University) and second-team All-Ohio LB Collin Haben. Pakan’s younger brother Paul will take over QB duties this year.
“Our senior group is solid and experienced,” head coach Joe Vassalotti said. “We will learn on them heavily while depth is developed in the younger classes.
“Our league (Suburban) should be strong with Wadsworth and Medina Highland returning numerous talented players. We will work to be a factor in the league championship race.”
Vassalotti is entering his sixth year and has a record of 50-21. The Blue Devils have made the playoffs four straight years and were state semifinalists in 2004 and 2005.
This season, Vassalotti sees a tough schedule ahead for his team.
“Of course all games are important,” he said. “But there seems to be much interest in the Nordonia, Highland, Wadsworth and Green games this coming season. We have not lost a home football game since week five of the 2004 season – a span of 20 games.”
Vassalotti thinks that streak has a good chance to continue thanks to veteran leadership.
“Again, we welcome back a solid group of seniors who have varsity experience,” he said.
“We need to develop quality depth in the younger classes. Positive leadership from our seniors will be crucial to our success.”
8/22 at Macedonia Nordonia
8/29 Akron Ellet
9/5 Akron Firestone
9/12 Medina Highland
9/19 at Barberton
9/26 at Lodi Cloverleaf
10/17 at Richfield Revere