Following stints at Beaver Local, Salem, Springfield, Struthers, Ursuline and most recently in Boardman, Doug Velasquez was named Mineral Ridge’s head football coach in the middle of January. Velasquez was a former All-Ohio First-Team selection in 1988 as the Spartans’ linebacker. Defense is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Mineral Ridge program. Over the course of the past two seasons, the Rams have allowed 722 points (36.1 ppg) to be scored upon their defensive unit.
Mineral Ridge will move from the Upper Tier of the Inter-Tri County League to the Lower Tier in 2013. The Rams lost the likes of Casey Porter (595 rushing yards, 57 tackles), Ryan Booth (6 QB sacks), Josh Detwiler (Second-Team All-ITCL lineman), and Chris DiRando (20.1 yards per reception) to graduation. Also, Devine Redding (1100 rushing yards, 17 TDs) has transferred to Glenville Academy. However, the cupboard is not bare as Ridge returns quarterback Jonathan Baker, who has thrown for 1,794 yards (18 TDs) throughout his career.
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The Velasquez-era begins with back-to-back road games at Fairport Harbor and Lisbon before returning home to take on Southern.
2013 Mineral Ridge Rams’ Football Preview
By Vince Pellegrini (@Vince_MYVS)
Head Coach: Doug Velasquez, 1st season (0-0)
2012 Record: 6-4 ITCL Upper Tier
2012 Post-Season Finish: Did Not Qualify
2012 Team Statistics
Points Scored: 32.8 (11th in Area)
Passing Yards: 121.8 (1218)
Rushing Yards: 230.3 (2303)
Points Allowed: 32.2 (52nd in Area)
Passing: Jonathan Baker – 1212 yds, 41.7 Comp % (58-139), 12 TDs
Rushing: Jonathan Baker – 52 att, 203 yards, 5 TDs
Receiving: Steven Phillips – 11 rec, 450 yds, 5 TDs
Tackles: Josh Goss – 116
QB Sacks: Josh Goss & Zane Rummell – 5.0
Interceptions: Steven Phillips – 3
Aug. 30 – at Fairport Harbor, 7 PM
Sept. 6 – at Lisbon, 7 PM
Sept. 13 – Southern, 7 PM
Sept. 20 – at Lowellville, 7 PM
Sept. 27 – at Sebring, 7 PM
Oct. 4 – McDonald, 7 PM
Oct. 11 – Jackson-Milton, 7 PM
Oct. 18 – at Wellsville, 7 PM
Oct. 25 –Western Reserve, 7 PM
Nov. 1 – Leetonia, 7 PM
Offensive Strength: Starting for the third consecutive year, senior Jonathan Baker will lead his team into the 2013 season. Baker has been very productive during his time as the Rams’ quarterback. He has completed 94 of 214 passes (43.9%) for 1,789 yards over the last two seasons. Baker has thrown 16 picks, which is a number he will want to reduce this year. The Rams’ exploded for a quartet or more of touchdowns in seven games last season.
Offensive Weakness: The offensive line took a major hit by losing both Ryan Booth and Josh Detwiler. The pair was named to the All-ITCL team this past November.
Defensive Strength: The linebacker position returns senior Josh Goss, who led Ridge in tackles a year ago with 116. He was also second in quarterback sacks (5.0). Josh’s classmate, Luke Bukovina, also had a productive junior campaign as he totaled 48 tackles.
Defensive Weakness: In 2012, the defense allowed their opponents to score 49-points or more four times. Over the last three years, Ridge has allowed the opposition to post 33.2 points. Those numbers have to come down if the Rams will be successful this year.
Storylines Facing the Rams
1. Loss of Devine. Devine Redding was an ultra-skilled talent who gained 2,026 yards over the last two seasons (24 rushing TDs). In Redding’s first season, he ran for over 100 yards in six of eight games. Now Devine is heading northwest to play for Ted Ginn Sr’s Tarblooders of Glenville.
2. Finished Strong. Mineral Ridge finished last fall strong by winning four of their final five contests. Can they keep it going?
3. Offense Piling up Points. Within the last decade, Mineral Ridge has piled up an average of 30 points per season in five of the last ten years.
Did you know? Senior linebacker Josh Goss has led the team in tackles (2012: 116, 2011: 65) in back-to-back seasons. Senior wideout Nathan Palmer also has led the Rams in receptions in 2011 (17) and 2012 (13).