Parma Normandy’s top objective: ‘Invade’ the playoffs


Parma Normandy Invaders

Normandy moves over to Region 6 from
Region 5 where it finished in 14th place last year. However, with
almost the entire team returning, the Invaders believe it will be tough to keep
them from entering the playoffs this year.

Parma Normandy (5-5)

* Players To Watch –
RB/LB Jake Squirek (5-11, 215, Sr.), QB/DB Casey Pierce (6-4, 195, Sr.), WR/SS
Mike Travvagliante (5-8, 165, Sr.), C/NG Mike Samjilenko (5-9, 230, Sr.), OT/DE
Ryan Fitzsimmons (6-1, 235, Sr.), RB/CB Mike Louis (5-9, 175, Sr.)

Outlook – Normandy moves over to Region 6 from
Region 5 where it finished in 14th place last year. However, with
almost the entire team returning, the Invaders believe it will be tough to keep
them from entering the playoffs this year.

Squirek is one of the top 150 seniors in the state according
to Ohio High magazine and is the son of former NFL linebacker Jack Squirek.
Last season, he had 1,500 rushing yards (seven yards per carry) and 16
touchdowns. He also returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown.

“Jake is a difference-maker on offense,” head coach Rich
Turner said. “Game planning against him, I can only imagine what it’s like. He
can take it the distance or he can pound it at you. He had 285 yards and five
touchdowns against North Royalton
last year who is a good team.”

Squirek has an Air Force offer.

Pierce returns at quarterback and he was solid in his first
year in the role in 2008 with 600 passing yards, 300 rushing yards and a total
of 10 touchdowns (seven passing, three rushing).

“He’s a lefty, so we kind of do everything backwards as far
as rollouts and things like that,” Turner said. “We didn’t throw the ball very
much last year. Casey’s biggest thing is he can run it too. He benefited from
defenses keying on Jake last year. He could roll out and keep it himself. He
really came on at the end of the year and we feel we have a dual-threat
quarterback this year. He also starts at corner; we have we have three of our
starting DB’s back.”

Travvagliante returns as a two-way starter and he had 450
rushing yards last year.

“He does so many things well for us,” Turner said. “Mike can
run the ball effectively and he did a great job of blocking for Jake, too. Mike
is also a starter at strong safety and he makes plays.”

Samjilenko is extremely strong, plays low and returns to
anchor both lines.

“Mike made state as wrestler and he won our lineman lifting
challenge,” Turner said. “He’s a typical Ohio
hard-nosed wrestler, center and nose guard. He’s back both ways and he’ll be
even better this year as a senior.”

Also returning as a productive starter on both lines is

“Ryan is one of our best blockers,” Turner said. “Colleges
wish he was taller, but they like the way he looks.”

Louis is the team’s No. 3 running back and he had around 300
rushing yards last year. But more importantly, he is the Invaders’ “shutdown
corner” according to Turner.

went into battle last year with an inexperienced team for the most part. But
with a talented group returning, the Invaders hope “D Day” in 2009 will be in
reference to them playing the first weekend of December.

“We were young coming into last year and this year it’s a
little different,” Turner said. “We’ve got seven starters back on offense and
five starters back on defense. Last year offensively, everything revolved
around Jake, but he’s an unselfish player that has allowed other people to show
their talent.

“We have pretty much the team we had last year. We had a
brutal schedule last year and we played four teams that got to the second round
of the playoffs and five playoff teams overall. Our schedule gets a little easier
this year. We don’t play Massillon
this year. But we do open the season with four playoffs teams with Madison, Poland,
Brecksville and Twinsburg. That is definitely the meat of our schedule. We
should know how good we are after that stretch.

“We started playing really well towards end of last year and
hopefully some of that momentum carries into this year.”

Turner is honest when asked about his thoughts regarding
moving from Region 5 to Region 6.

“We expect to be in the mix in Region 6,” he said. “If we
don’t get a bunch of injuries, I think we can compete with anyone in Region 6.

“I think the top teams in Region 6 are some of the best in
the state. But overall in Region 6 it’s easier to make the playoffs than Region
5. I don’t want to say I’m happy to be in Region 6, but I don’t want to say I’m
sad either. I think we can compete for a championship in Region 6.”

All things considered, Turner has good reason to be
optimistic about his 2009 squad. The Invaders seem to have most of the pieces
in place.

“Our goals every year are to win the conference (Northeast Ohio) and make the playoffs. If Jake stays
healthy – and Casey at quarterback as well – we should be pretty good. Our
biggest weakness is we’ve got to find linebackers. But we’re excited about this
season and everyone around here is talking.

“The only downer is the new pay to play. Now it’s $500 per
kid. They used to have to pay $100 but now it’s $500. That’s depressing, but
with everything that’s going on that’s what needed to be done. We probably lost
about 10 kids due to that. No starters this year, but down the road it will
hurt the program.

“Nowadays, kids have to choose between sports because they
can’t afford to play two and three sports. You used to see three-sport athletes
all the time. Now kids have to pick.”


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