Columbiana, a regional finalist in 2005 and 2006, has made the playoffs
four straight years and five of the last six. All of that though was in
Region 21. Now the Clippers head to Region 23 and that’s not good news
for their new neighbors. If size equals state titles, you might pencil Columbiana in for a late season run.
* Players to Watch – OL/DL Matt Douglass (6-3, 255, Jr.); OL/DL Nate Good (6-2, 245, Sr.); DL Jacob Yoder (6-5, 248, Jr.); OL/DL Rex Smith (6-3, 319, Jr.); OL Josh Batcha (6-1, 230, Sr.); OL/LB Mike McMaster (6-1, 225, Sr.); TB/DB Grant Crider (5-9, 145, Sr.); TE/ILB Ken Shea (6-1, 235, Sr.)
* Outlook – Columbiana, a regional finalist in 2005 and 2006, has made the playoffs four straight years and five of the last six. All of that though was in Region 21. Now the Clippers head to Region 23 and that’s not good news for their new neighbors.
If size equals state titles, you might pencil Columbiana in for a late season run.
Head coach Bob Spaite (102-49 in 15 years at Columbiana) said his offensive line is a strength and the numbers back it up. The five returning starters (Douglass, Batcha, McMaster, Smith and Shea) average 6-2, 253, which for a D-VI school is HUGE. Junior newcomer Tyler “Fish” Boykin is the littlest of the bunch at 6-0, 220.
The line will have to be good early as an unproven backfield and receiving corps takes formation.
The Clippers must replace RB Brian Warchol and WR Josh Harold, both of whom were All-Ohio. Warchol, who rushed for 1,568 yards last year, finished as the second leading rusher in school history, while Harold starred as a corner, receiver and kicker (he holds school records for kickoff returns for TDs, field goals and longest field goal).
Picking up the backfield slack will be a group of players Spaite called “inexperienced.” Crider and junior Jeff Davidson will compete for time at tailback, while junior Nick McMillan and freshman Jacob Theil will see action at fullback. Junior Brian Fay and sophomore Austin Barbato will compete at the quarterback position.
Defensively the Clippers return six starters, including several defensive linemen with experience (Douglass, Good, Yoder and Smith) and all of their OLBs. Breaking in new corners is a concern. Crider is back at free safety after earning first team Inter Tri County League honors last year.
A hefty schedule, and one Spaite calls “the toughest in the 93 years of Clipper football,” lies ahead.
“We open with a tough, physical perennial D-VI power in Steubenville Catholic Central,” Spaite said. “Next is Leetonia, our oldest rival and always one of the best teams in the area. Then we finish our non-league schedule with one of Youngstown’s tough guy’s and one of the great traditional football powers in the area, Struthers.
“The fourth year of the ITCL will once again be very, very competitive. In fact brutal might be a better word.”
8/28 CATHOLIC CENTRAL (STEUBENVILLE)
9/4 @ LEETONIA
9/11 @ STRUTHERS
9/18 @ EAST PALESTINE
9/25 CRESTVIEW (COLUMBIANA)
10/2 UNITED (HANOVERTON)
10/9 @ SPRINGFIELD (NEW MIDDLETOWN)
10/16 @ MINERAL RIDGE
10/23 DAVID ANDERSON (LISBON)
10/30 SOUTH RANGE (NORTH LIMA)