A show of hands, who was worried after the Bulldogs fell to 2-2 following a hard-fought 33-28 loss to Niles in week four? Just as I suspected, not many. Since Coach Mark Brungard began his reign as the Bulldogs’ head coach, Poland has advanced to week eleven six of his eight years. So, it was no surprise to see the ‘Dawgs win five of their last six during the regular season to punch their ticket to the Division III playoffs. Poland got redemption for their week one 7-point loss (10-3) to Marlington by knocking out the top-seeded Dukes (38-0).
The Bulldogs lost eight First-Team All-League members (Geno Colombo, OL; Nick Sesonsky, OL; Anthony Marchionda, WR; Shane Evans, DL; Alex Hubbell, DL; Anthony Kosec, LB; Mark Turnbull, LB; Pat Hiznay, DB) to graduation. However, Poland welcomes back two Second-Teamers (Abe Kassem and Ross Gould) and a more than capable signal caller in Jacob Wolfe.
Poland opens the 2013 season with a visit from the Marlington Dukes on Thursday, August 29.
2013 Poland Bulldogs’ Football Preview
by Vince Pellegrini (@Vince_MYVS)
Head Coach: Mark Brungard, 9th season (59-31)
2012 Record: 8-4 (4-2), All-American Conference – American Division
2012 Post-Season Finish: Lost in Division III Regional Semifinal to Dover, 35-17, on November 10
Returning Starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 4
Offense: Pro Style
2012 Team Regular Season Statistics
Points Scored: 25.5 (29th in Area)
Passing Yards: 82.3 (823)
Rushing Yards: 187.7 (1877)
Points Allowed: 14.4 (6th in Area)
Passing Yards Allowed: 109.7 (1097)
Rushing Yards Allowed: 120.9 (1209)
Passing: Jacob Wolfe – 1020 yards, 59.7 Comp. %, 10 TDs
Rushing: Ross Gould – 174 att, 1100 yards, 12 TDs
Receiving: Tyler Evan – 9 rec, 110 yards, 2 TDs
Aug. 29 – Marlington, 7 PM
Sept. 6 – at Northwest, 7 PM
Sept. 13 – Boardman, 7 PM
Sept. 20 – at Niles, 7 PM
Sept. 27 – Canfield, 7 PM
Oct 4 – Struthers, 7 PM
Oct. 11 – at Howland, 7 PM
Oct. 18 – at Hubbard, 7 PM
Oct. 25 – East, 7 PM
Nov. 1 – at Beaver Local, 7 PM
Offensive Strength: Scoring hasn’t proven to be much of a problem for the Bulldogs. Over the last seven seasons, the ‘Dawgs have scored 23-points or better. This year with Jacob Wolfe under center and a plethora of talented ball carriers (Ross Gould, Tyler Evan, Marlon Ramirez), the point totals should rise back into that same ballpark once again.
Offensive Weakness: Losing the likes of Colombo and Sesonsky along the front line will be a challenge. Over the last two regular seasons, the line has blocked their way to a clip of over 5-yards per carry.
Defensive Strength: Poland’s defense held five opponents to single digits a year ago. Over the last eight years, the Bulldogs have held the opposition to under 20-points seven times.
Defensive Weakness: Anytime you lose as much as Poland did from last year’s defense (7 starters, 5 of which were All-League), one would have to say that they may be thin until the younger players get their feet under them.
Storylines Facing the Bulldogs:
1. Pieces are in Place for an Offensive Explosion. Ross Gould (1100 yards, Tyler Evan (380) and Marlon Ramirez (360) all topped 350 rushing yards in 2012. Quarterback Jacob Wolfe picked up right where Colin Reardon left off by throwing for over 1000-yards (1020) and almost eclipsing a completion percentage of 60% (59.7%). The offense will be without one of their most lethal weapons. Anthony Marchionda, who graduated this past spring, grabbed a conference best 34 passes for 512 yards during the regular season.
2. Takeaways, Takeaways, Takeaways. Poland caused havoc for the opposition. The ‘Dawgs forced 16 takeaways during the regular season (9 fumble recoveries, 7 interceptions) compared to just 8 the previous year.
3. Boardman Visits Poland. The Bulldogs will play host to the Spartans of Boardman in week three. This match up should generate lots of excitement in both communities.
Did you know? The last Bulldog to be recognized by the AP as a First-Team All-State running back was Pete Perry in 1999.