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Bombers fly two platoons with new coach
Bombers fly two platoons with new coach
By TONY LANGE
A large senior class doesn't necessarily equate to an experienced team, but Kenston football players are hoping to compensate by outworking their opponents.
Returning from a 6-4 season, the Bombers graduated about nine players on offense and seven on defense, first-year head coach Jeff Grubich said.
"I've got a big senior class, but the majority of them haven't taken a snap yet on a Friday night," he said. "So that's my biggest concern is the experience that we have come game night."
The Bombers are loaded with 24 seniors this year, backed by 13 juniors, 17 sophomores and a pair of freshmen on their varsity roster.
A strong work ethic definitely is a strength this season, said Grubich, who has constantly harped on his players that nothing is going to come easy.
"Football is a tough game, and you're not going to get out there and win games and get into the playoffs and compete for conference titles unless you are busting your butt and committed to outworking your opponent," Grubich said when he got hired for the job back in February. "So the biggest thing I want to bring to Kenston is commitment to hard work. You have to put in more hard work than your competition."
Grubich joins the Bombers this season after 10 years as an assistant to Mentor High School head coach Steve Trivisonno, whom he served as a pass-game coordinator last year with Cardinals quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who threw for 3,845 yards and 41 touchdowns.
This season, Grubich is working hand-in-hand with Kenston senior Darryl Richards, who will assume the quarterback position after starting at wide receiver and cornerback in 2011.
Intelligent as he is diverse, Richards started as point guard for the Bombers' basketball team and anchored the Bombers' four-by-100-meter state relay team last school year.
"He's learning the quarterback position. It's brand new to him," Grubich said. "He's got a huge learning curve he's got to make up for his senior year, but he's working hard, and he's done some good things, and I think the sky is the limit for him."
Leading the ground game, senior running back Nick Lombardy returns to carry the Bombers forward after he emerged as Kenston's go-to guy in the second half of last season.
"He's more of a guy who's going to make you miss, but I was impressed at our Glenville scrimmage. When he needed to get three yards, he ducked the head down low, and he went straight ahead," Grubich said. "So he's a kid who is going to stick his nose in there when he has to, but, at the same time, I think his strengths are moving side to side and making guys miss."
Also taking some reps in the offensive backfield will be sophomore Jeremy Wyers, who likewise is a scat-back-type runner but, as an underclassman, has a lot of room to grow, Grubich said.
On the offensive front, senior left tackle Sam Coverdale, a 6-foot-7, 280-pound Northwestern recruit, returns and was elected captain for the Bombers.
At right tackle, senior Nate Lewis will start, and his younger brother, sophomore Nick Lewis, will snap the ball at center.
The two guard positions are less secured, Grubich said, but juniors Chris Ross and James Gruver are fighting for those spots.
There also are four wide receiver spots that guys are battling for, he said. Seniors Justin Abbarno, Brian Brezovec, Jack Quigley and Joe Tomcufcik, along with sophomore Jake Silberman, all are in that mix.
"We're just waiting for the dust to settle down and get those final starting spots solidified," Grubich said. "We've been working out since February, and now that we've got the pads on, you've got some players who have distinguished themselves, and you can tell that they're going to be able to make plays for you on Friday night."
In the defensive secondary, there will be a few of those wide-out candidates who may see some action at cornerback, but the Bombers are trying to be as "two-platooned" as possible so that they stay fresh for the fourth quarter, Grubich said.
Seniors Sean O'Connor and Jesse Phan will likely start as safeties.
Top linebacker candidates are seniors Andrew Soltay, who also ran on Kenston's four-by-100 state relay team during the track season, Adam Gray, Guy Leygraaf and Ryan Malik, as well as juniors Billy McDermott and Sam Gambatese.
The 2011 Bombers lacked a strong linebacker unit, and Kenston pulled its all-state safety, Alex Kocheff, out of the secondary during the second half of the season to help assist the tackling effort up front.
Top defensive line candidates for the 2012 Bombers are seniors Ryan Snedeker, Dyland Johnson, James Johnson and Russell Lewis, along with sophomore Mike Kruger.
Kenston kicks off its season at 7 p.m. Aug. 24 at Hudson, which spanked the Bombers, 35-0, in last year's opener.
"We want to go there, and we want to compete," Grubich said. "We want to put our best 11 out there and battle our butts off and see what the scoreboard says at the end of the game."
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