After winning the eighth state championship in Newark Catholic
school history last season, the message head coach Bill Franks is
sending his team is clear.
Turn the page.
Newark Catholic begins a rigorous schedule Saturday night, hosting Amanda-Clearcreek in one of the marquee games in the state.
After winning the eighth state championship in Newark Catholic school history last season, the message head coach Bill Franks is sending his team is clear.
Turn the page.
“Our guys are working hard and learning,” Franks said. “We have good memories from last season, but we want to turn the page and try to have another good season.”
The Green Wave return seven starters from its Division VI state championship team, including four on offense. Newark Catholic begins a rigorous schedule Saturday night, hosting Amanda-Clearcreek in one of the marquee games in the state.
“This should be a classic Newark Catholic-Amanda football game,” Franks said. “It’s going to be about establishing the line of scrimmage.
“They had a great offseason, and we are expecting to play a great Amanda football team. The game is going to come down to how each team plays and mistakes.
“We love the challenge, but at the same time a game like this to kickoff the season can be a little stressful,” Franks added.
The bulk of returning experience for the Green Waves comes on the offensive line in tackle Casey Cunningham and guard Lane Hartfield. Seniors Jake Patterson and Luke Webster also are expected to play a key role.
Aaron Shook gets the task of replacing star tailback Mark Nichols. Shook played fullback for the Green Wave last season, scoring nine touchdowns and rushing for nearly 800 yards. Clay Harris moves from offensive line to fullback to replace Shook.
“(Shook is) basically a well-conditioned fullback at 6-feet and 200 pounds,” Franks said. “He is learning to be patient and waiting for the crease to open up.
“He’s the type of kid that is going to lower his shoulders and fight for those two extra yards.”
Kevin Cox, who helped the Green Wave to a first-round playoff win over Sugar Grove Berne Union, replaces Mark Elwell at quarterback.
Newark Catholic will have a lot of players going both ways as its defense lost eight starters. Matt Lewis, who made a key interception to close the door in the state title game, returns in the secondary. Shook leads the linebacking corps.
“We have some hard-nosed kids who will tackle,” Franks said. “We have a veteran coaching staff, so we hope the defense will grow as the season goes along and eventually turn into a nice unit.”
Franks expects his young football team to be part of a physical game with the Aces.
“We are going to play in a physical football game that is going to be about establishing the line of scrimmage,” he said. “We need to be resilient and bounce back when things go against us, and seize the next opportunity.”
On the other side, Amanda-Clearcreek is coming off a 6-4 mark last season, narrowly missing the playoffs in Division IV, Region 15. The Aces return eight starters on both sides of the ball, as part of its largest football team in school history with over 80 players on the roster.
“This is the largest squad we’ve had, and for the first time in a couple of seasons we have a chance to develop some good depth,” A-C head coach Ron Hinton said. “We just have to solidify some positions, and get some of our younger player’s confidence.”
One of the competitions going on in camp for the Aces has been the quarterback role between Jared Bennett, Clayton Smith and Eric Christy. Bennett has been given the nod for the start against the Green Wave.
“All three quarterbacks bring different things to the table,” Hinton said. “We’ve decided to go with Bennett this week, but that could change next week depending on how things go. We’d like to have one as a starter, one as a backup and the other at jayvee getting a lot of snaps.”
The strength for the Aces comes with its running game, led by junior tailback Garren Dilley. Nathan Brumfield will also get carries from the tailback position, while Brock Rose will be the fullback.
Amanda-Clearcreek returns plenty of experience along the offensive line with Teran Pinkstock at center, three-year starter Ray Spence at left guard, Jordan Forquer at right guard, Matt Hill and Andrew Bennett at left tackle and Josh Leasure at right tackle. Kaleb Miller will become more of a two-way player also this season for the Aces.
“We’ve been working with two to three lines in practice, so we are trying to get that down to eight or nine players,” Hinton said. “We think this can be a nice and aggressive unit, but we have a hard start for them against Newark Catholic.
“None of our quarterbacks have taken a varsity game snap under center, so we are going to limit what they can do. It’s going to be important for the guys up front to create holes for Brock Rose and Garren Dilley.”
Defensively, Hinton feels the Aces return a lot of players who improved from last season. The task now is having competition for spots leading to more depth for the defense.
“Competition is good for the soul,” he said. “We still are looking for more depth behind Spence and Tyler (Genders).”
The biggest change for the Aces has come with the coaching staff. Long-time defensive coordinator Jeff Arndt, who Hinton called his “right-hand man”, left for Reynoldsburg in the offseason. Tim Mounts has assumed the defensive coordinator duties. Tim Marshall moved up from the eighth-grade middle school team to help with the secondary. Cory Black has also rejoined the offensive staff after three seasons as the head football coach of Chillicothe Southeastern.
“I retired from teaching in June and I was not allowed to be on the field till August 1st,” Hinton said. “This summer was the first time Jeff or I was not on the Amanda sideline since 1975. That put us a little bit behind, but our coaching staff did a good job of directing the kids.”
Hinton has been impressed with the tape he has seen on the Green Wave.
“This is always a great but tough football game,” he said. “When you watch them on tape, you feel like they are getting better and better on every play. Their offensive line is impressive, they have a good running back and quarterback and their defense is aggressive.
“One thing we are still trying to work on with our football team is becoming more physical and aggressive. We are kind of in between as a football team. We’re not pups but at the same time we’re not a veteran team either.”