In late October, Bill Bohren decided to step down as head coach of the LaBrae football program after nine years (46-46, one league title, two playoff appearances, four winning seasons) in Leavittsburg. The Vikings’ failed to follow up their 2011 post-season trip by finishing 1-9. LaBrae began the season with a 0-6 mark before their offensive explosion against Newton Falls on October 5 (47-6).
Almost a month after Bohren’s announcement, LaBrae’s Board of Education named his successor in John Armeni. The 2001 Chaney graduate spent the past two seasons working on Bohren’s coaching staff. Since graduating from Chaney, Armeni has had the opportunity to learn under some of the best coaches in the area – Ron Berdis, Mike Kopachy, and Bohren.
With only thirteen lettermen returning, Coach Armeni has taken the approach to erase last year’s 1-9 from everyone’s memory. “We will be very young with the major of our roster being underclassmen,” says the new leader. “(Though) those classes have a lot of potential. Our kids have worked extremely hard in the weight room this offseason. We’ve raised the level of expectations and accountability around the program. The kids are working very hard to meet the challenges that we’ve laid out in front of them.”
The 2013 season kicks off from Jefferson on Thursday, August 29. LaBrae will be without their starting signal caller Peyton Aldridge, who has decided to not play on Friday nights this fall.
2013 LaBrae Vikings’ Football Preview
by Vince Pellegrini (@Vince_MYVS)
Head Coach: John Armeni, 1st season (0-0)
2012 Record: 1-9 (1-6), All-American Conference – National Division
2012 Post-Season Finish: Did Not Qualify
Returning Starters: Offense – 4, Defense – 4
Defense: 3-5 Odd Stack
2012 Team Statistics
Points Scored: 20.6 (44th in Area)
Passing Yards: 156.5 (1565)
Rushing Yards: 111.7 (1117)
Points Allowed: 26.1 (42nd in Area)
Passing Yards Allowed: 124.1 (1241)
Rushing Yards Allowed: 202.1 (2021)
Rushing: Justin Jenkins – 58 att, 423 yards, 3 TDs
Receiving: Marcell Richardson – 26 rec, 399 yards, 6 TDs
Tackles: Justin Jenkins – 80
Sacks: Andrew Cree – 3.0
Aug. 29 – at Jefferson, 7 PM
Sept. 6 – Warren JFK, 7 PM
Sept. 13 – Pymatuning Valley, 7 PM
Sept. 20 – at Liberty, 7 PM
Sept. 27 – Campbell, 7 PM
Oct 4 – at Lakeview, 7 PM
Oct. 11 – Newton Falls, 7 PM
Oct. 18 – at Girard, 7 PM
Oct. 25 – Champion, 7 PM
Nov. 1 – at Brookfield, 7 PM
Offensive Strength: The Vikings will feature experience at the skill positions. LaBrae made the transition to the spread offense over the winter. “We look for (our skill guys) to lead us while the rest of the roster gets valuable experience early in the season,” says Coach Armeni. In 2012, junior Justin Jenkins led the team in rushing yardage with 423. His classmate Bryce Hendrickson also gained 211 yards. Both runners averaged over six yards per tote. On the outside, Marcell Richardson (26 catches, 399 yards, 6 TDs) and Chris Mathews (19 catches, 190 yards) both return to give the Vikings’ passing options.
Offensive Weakness: The offensive line returns just one starter from a year ago. Armeni states that the coaching staff has “pushed those guys hard this off-season and they’ve responded by making great strides during our workouts. We need them to continue to get better every day.”
Defensive Strength: LaBrae’s defense has a stable of active linebackers who like to be aggressive. “We added the odd stack on defense (to) fit our personnel,” Armeni acknowledged. “This was the best way to get as many (linebackers) onto the field”.
Defensive Weakness: The defense allowed 28 points or more in five games last fall. For the season, the Vikings’ permitted the opposition to score an average of 26.1 points per contest. That was the most allowed by a LaBrae team since 2007 (27.6).
Storylines Facing the Vikings
1. Quarterback Position?Peyton Aldridge threw for 2,364 yards over the past two regular seasons with 25 touchdowns. The two-year starting quarterback has decided to focus his attention on basketball. Now, who will take over the reigns as the Vikings’ 2013 opening day starter.
2. Will Jenkins Continue His Rise? Justin Jenkins went from receiving just 2 hand offs as a freshman in 2011 to being the team’s leading rusher in 2012. Jenkins gained 7.3 yards per carry (58 rushes, 423 yards, 3 TDs) while catching 7 balls for 101 stripes (14.4 ypr). Justin was the only Viking underclassmen to be named to the All-AAC 1st- or 2nd-team a year ago.
Did you know?: In 1983, the Vikings finished undefeated (10-0) in the regular season by outscoring their opponents by an average of 28.3 to 4.2. LaBrae was coached by Al Carrino.