Leetonia began the 2012 season with a 3-1 mark; however, faltered in four of their next six to close out the campaign with a 5-5 record. The Bears played in five contests decided by ten points or less (2-3) as they faced off against five opponents who finished with a winning record (2-3). In those match ups, the Bears held the opposition to just 17.6 points but could only manage an average of 14 points.
Coach Matt Altomare is excited about the experience he has returning on defense and as he welcomes back his signal caller (Trent Ferry) and his leading rusher on offense (Josh Van Giesen). “We have a lot of experience (coming back). The kids are eager to learn and succeed.”
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The Bears will visit rival-Lisbon on Thursday, August 29 to begin the season. “We don’t have a lot of depth,” said Altomare. “The new starters must mature quickly.”
2013 Leetonia Bears’ Football Preview
by Vince Pellegrini (@Vince_MYVS)
Head Coach: Matt Altomare, 7th season (31-31)
2012 Record: 5-5 (3-4), ITCL Lower Tier
2012 Post-Season Finish: Did Not Qualify
Returning Starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 7
Defense: Multiple 50
2012 Team Statistics
Points Scored: 21.6 (40th in Area)
Passing Yards: 59.0 (590)
Rushing Yards: 214.6 (2146)
Points Allowed: 18.8 (18th in Area)
Passing Yards Allowed: 69.5 (695)
Rushing Yards Allowed: 189.1 (1891)
Passing: Trent Ferry – 590 yds, 43.9 Comp % (43-98), 7 TDs
Rushing: Zack Van Giesen – 154 att, 849 yds, 10 TDs
Receiving: Zack Van Giesen, 7 rec, 109 yds, 2 TDs
Tackles: Bruce Turney – 52
QB Sacks: Zack Van Giesen – 6.0
Interceptions: Trent Ferry – 3
Aug. 29 – at Lisbon, 7:30 PM
Sept. 6 – Columbiana, 7 PM
Sept. 13 – at Mathews, 7 PM
Sept. 20 – at Wellsville, 7 PM
Sept. 27 – Lowellville, 7 PM
Oct. 4 – Western Reserve, 7 PM
Oct. 11 – at McDonald, 7 PM
Oct. 18 – Jackson-Milton, 7 PM
Oct. 25 – Sebring, 7:30 PM
Nov. 1 – at Mineral Ridge, 7 PM
Offensive Strength: The entire backfield returns led by junior quarterback Trent Ferry. The Bears’ signal caller took over for Cody Stokes last season and threw for 590 yards and 7 scores on 43 of 98 passing. Ferry also ran the ball 98 times for 465 yards and 7 touchdowns. Leetonia’s leading rusher also returns in Zack Van Giesen (849 yards, 10 TDs).
Offensive Weakness: For the fourth straight year, Leetonia has finished 35th in the area or lower in scoring. The last time the Bears’ offense finished higher was their last playoff year of 2008 when they ranked 33rd (24.3).
Defensive Strength: One of Leetonia’s strengths a year ago was their ability to make the opposition turn the ball over. The defense recovered 14 fumbles and intercepted 7 errant passes.
Defensive Weakness: The front line defenders will be missed with the graduation of Tom Cruz (100 tackles over the last 2 years), Josh Van Giesen (37 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles in 2012), Derek Farmer (31 tackles, 3 sacks last fall), and Zack Renier (35 tackles, 2 sacks in 2012).
Storylines Facing the Bears
1. Is the Bears Defense Ready? Four of the last five seasons they have been. Leetonia’s defensive unit has held their opponents to an average of 19.8 or less in four of the past five seasons. With 7 starters returning, there isn’t a reason to think otherwise.
2. Start and Finish Strong. The Bears lost the Spaghetti Bowl to Lisbon (37-14) at home to begin the year and dropped a 41-28 home contest to Wellsville to close out the campaign. Sandwiched in the middle was a 3-1 start and an eight-week season which saw victories over Mineral Ridge (23-19) and McDonald (10-0), as well as, highly contested match ups with Columbiana (14-7 loss) and Southern (20-16 loss).
3. Jackson-Milton Back, Southern Out. With the constant changes to the Lower Tier’s alignment, Southern drops off the schedule as they will join the Upper Tier. Jackson-Milton makes their return to the division and will pay the Bears a visit in week eight.
Did you know? Junior Trent Ferry has led Leetonia on defense with 3 interceptions in each of the past two seasons.