Four-year starter Preston has Howland optimistic about the season ahead


Warren Howland QB Matt Preston (Photo by Gary Housteau)

With a veteran signal caller and a talented stable of running backs, Howland has the kind of speed and size that can help them get deeper into the playoffs this season.  Quarterback Matt Preston and running back Mike Mangiarelli are two seniors that will have to perform very well if the Tigers hope to have a really successful season. 

Longtime head coach Dick Angle has another first at Warren Howland High School this year.

“I’ve never had a three-year starter let alone a four-year starter (under center),” said Angle referring to quarterback Matt Preston who was a first for Angle last season.  “I think Matt has gotten better every year for us and we expect him to run and throw the ball better than he has the past three years.  And he’s going to play some defense for us.”

Known more for getting the most out of his talented tailbacks throughout the years, Angle actually has a prolific quarterback that’s not only been around for a while, but he’s also someone that can both run and throw the ball with equal aplomb.

“He’s a four-year starter, that’s very unique,” Angle said.  “We had moved him up (with the varsity) with anticipation of giving him a lot of experience and so forth.  And then our senior went down and our junior went down in two scrimmages and he’s starting the second quarter (first game) of his freshman year.  And he’s been there ever since.  He’s done a great job.  He’s won a couple of championships for us, we’ve been in the playoffs two years and he’s a great leader.”

As any longtime fan of high school football in the Mahoning Valley would certainly know, any quarterback that plays for Angle who throws for over 1,000 yards in any season can officially be considered a prolific passer.

“He threw for 1,300 yards last year and I think the year before it was 950.  But you got to catch it,” Angle said.  “We can throw it, but you got to catch it.”

But on the ground, Preston will definitely have some help in the offensive backfield at Howland.  Namely from senior Mike Mangiarelli at tailback.

“The tailback spot with Mangiarelli is excellent,” Angle said.  “He’s a true 4.4 guy, he’s been electronically clocked by everybody in America, I think.  He comes in this season with two good years of running the football but we actually think he’s a better corner.  But he’s going to be expected to run the ball.  And because he’s going to be a corner, we’re going to have to rest him a little bit.”

And that’s where freshman running back Deveon Smith comes in.

Smith and senior David VonBergen will be expected pick up the slack if Mangiarelli is resting on the sideline when the Tigers have the ball.  Yes, Smith, a player that hasn’t even officially entered the school building as a freshman, is already being counted on to produce in a pretty big way for the Howland offense.

“We’re hoping that between Deveon Smith, our freshman, and VonBergen, another senior, that they’re going to be able to share some time and take some pressure off of Mike,” Angle said.

The younger brother of Maurice and Lance Smith, two big-time prep stars when they played for Howland, Deveon Smith is already being talked about in superlative gridiron terms around the Youngstown-Warren area.

“He’s the third Smith that has played for us,” Angle said.  “Maurice was the first young man (of the family) that stepped on the field for us and he was a great kid.  He went to Michigan State and finished his career at YSU and did a great job for Coach (Jon) Heacock.  He graduated and he’s a fine young man.  The mother did a great job with all three and the sister.

“And then came Lance.  Lance had a great career for us and started at Wisconsin and now he’s at Memphis.  And they’re really excited in Memphis about him.  So Deveon becomes the third brother and he brings a little of both of them to the table.  He’s bigger than Lance is already.  He’s not as flat-out fast as Lance but he’s got great moves and I think he’s got the great power that Maurice had.  He’s just a pleasurable kid to coach.  He’s a great student of the game and he’s working hard and he’s going to play some defense for us to.  Michael Echols, who does a great job with our corners, is schooling him up.  He’s going to play a lot of football for us.”

And Angle certainly has no problem playing a freshman as talented as Smith is, early and often.

“He’s pretty mature for a 14-year-old.  He acts like he’s 18 so that’s good.  In a good 18 way,” said Angle with a chuckle or two as he described the way he plans on potentially using Smith this season.  “We’re going to bring him along slow.  That means 20 carries a game instead of 10.  Nah, don’t put that down!  Nah, I don’t know how we’re going to use him.  We’re talking about trying to get him 10 a game, early.  And by Canfield (week 4), 40.”

But Angle quickly dismissed any of the prodigy talk that was last heard around the area back when Maurice Clarett was in junior high school.

“You know what, if he can be as good as his two brothers, Lance and Maurice, he’ll be a great back,” Angle said.  “I think it’s just about getting comfortable in the flow of the game and understanding that now he’s on a higher level, which he does understand.  So barring injuries and dumb things, I think he’ll have a great freshman year like Matt did and just mature with us.”

But make no mistake about it, Mangiarelli is the main cog for the Tigers on the ground going into the season.

“He’s the horse,” Angle said.  “He’s a young man that, a lot of people don’t understand, that he rushed for 600 yards as a sophomore and he never touched the ball until the second half.  That’s a lot of yards for just a half of football.  He’s a great kid and probably we’re going to get them both on the field.  We’re going to get, probably, Mange out on the flanker and Smith running and, vice-versa, to keep the speed on the edge for us.”

It seems like Angle has always had a solid tailback to dot the I-formation, at least when he was coaching on the Ohio side of the border – be it at Ursuline or Howland, and it looks like he’ll continue in that fashion for at least the next four years.

“We’re still an I team, but we’re going to do what we’ve done the last two years,” Angle said.  “We’re going to spread it and run from the gun a little bit and take advantage of the things that we can get around.  And we’ve got a pretty good fullback so we’re going to use the fullback more than a lot of people do.  But I think we’re going to look at the film real hard and see what they’re going to give us and we’re going to try to take it.”

Preston obviously has the requisite game experience to be able to take advantage of almost any situation he’s confronted with.

“I think he’s been in a lot of situations, good and bad,” Angle said.  “And as a young guy he’s handled some bad ones not as well as he should, but as a junior he handled everything well.  He gives you a leader on the field.  He’s a hard worker, no one works harder in the weight room.  He loves the weight room, he loves the game, he loves his teammates and we’re proud to have him.”

But Angle knows that having a few big men to count on up front will be a huge key in helping Preston make the offense click on all cylinders.

“You’re only as good as your linemen and that’s where we’re young,” Angle said.  “All of our linemen graduated but we think we’ve got some great competition going on with about eight linemen that want to get on the field.  So that makes us look pretty good there.”

One of the eight linemen that Angle is referring to is sophomore tackle Anthony Stanko.  At 6-4 and 305 pounds, Stanko will likely anchor the line for the next three years at tackle after playing some guard with the varsity as a freshman last season.

“He was a freshman last year, a little wet behind the ears, he did some good things but not consistent enough,” Angle said.  “He played all eleven games for us last year and he did some good things.  We did some clips for him because everybody is on the Internet and we only got 25 good clips so I told him he better have 25 a game this year.

“He’s working very hard for us.  We moved him to tackle.  He played guard for us last year.  He’s got great feet.  He’s a lot like Doug Datish.  He’s got great size, great athletic ability, he’s an endless worker in the weight room and at jump stretch, and he’s great with the academics just like Doug.  So they’re a lot a like.  He’s got a long way to go to be a Doug Datish though but he’s on his way.”

Photo Gallery: Howland High School – 2009

Mike Mangiarelli, Matt Preston, Deveon Smith

Matt Preston – Quarterback – Sr.

Mike Mangiarelli – Running Back – Sr.

Deveon Smith – Running Back – Fr.

David VonBergen – RB – Sr.

Matt Chambers – OLB – Sr.

Trevor Russell – MLB – Sr.

Cody Reesman – DL – Jr.

Anthony Stanko – OT – Soph.

Dick Angle – Head Coach

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