2014 Lisbon Blue Devils’ Football Preview
2013 Record: 3-7 (2-5), ITCL Upper Tier
Head Coach: Jim Tsilimos, 22nd Season (116-103)
Last Trip to Post-Season: 2003
School Playoff Record: 6-4
Last League Title: 1999, co-champs
5-Year Winning Percentage: 12.0%
Aug. 28 – at Leetonia, 7
Sept. 5 – at Mineral Ridge, 7
Sept. 12 – Wellsville, 7
Sept. 19 – South Range, 7
Sept. 26 – East Palestine, 7
Oct. 3 – at Crestview, 7
Oct. 10 – Columbiana, 7
Oct. 17 – at United, 7
Oct. 24 – Springfield, 7
Oct. 31 – at Jackson-Milton, 7
2013 Returning Leaders
Rushing Yards: Jason Thompson, 348
Passing Yards: Josh Liberati, 706
Receiving Yards: Josh Craig, 102
Tackles: Austin Rutecki, 56
Interceptions: Austin Rutecki, 3
Quarterback Sacks: Anthony Rhodes & Josh Craig, 1.0
Year in Review: The Blue Devils were 3-1 against teams who didn’t finish with at least a .500 record. However, Lisbon was outscored 283-64 in their other six match ups. Lisbon’s offense stalled during the final month of the season as they were able to only accumulate an average of 10.2 points during their final four games.
Lisbon evened out their offense a bit from 2012 to 2013. Two years ago, the Devils ran for 2573 yards as a team (6.4 ypc, 27 TDs) while throwing for 400 stripes and 2 scores through the air. Last fall, Lisbon had 1662 rushing yards (4.3 ypc, 14 TDs) and 713 yards (6 TDs) via their passing attack. Josh Liberati finished his second season as the Blue Devils’ starting signal caller. Liberati has now scored 9 touchdowns by using his legs and threw for 6 just last year.
The Blue Devils open the season with their annual Thursday night game against Leetonia. Lisbon returns a ton of experience up front (Danny Donohue, Anthony Rhodes, Alex Barnes, Jake Liberati) and a third-year starting signal caller (Josh Liberati).
2013 Team Leaders
Points Scored Per Game: 16.6 (50th in Area)
Rushing Offense: 166.2
Passing Offense: 71.3
Points Allowed Per Game: 30.8 (51st in Area)
3 Things to Watch in Lisbon
Coming into his own – Liberati.
Third-year starting quarterback Josh Liberati begins the 2014 campaign with much higher expectations after the improvement he saw from his freshman to his sophomore season. In 2012, Liberati completed 43.4% of his passes (33-76) while tossing the ball for 333 yards. Last fall, Josh increased his passing yards to 706 on 49 of 109 (45%). He may become the 10th quarterback in school history to pass for over 1,000 yards in a single season and the first since Jay Yorty did it in 2001. Liberati also has rushed for 455 yards and 9 touchdowns (2.9 ypc) during his two seasons on the varsity level. The Blue Devils will feature their I with multiple formation alignment on offense once again.
Punishing Ground Game?
One thing which was lacking last year was Lisbon’s dominant rushing attack. It was only two years ago that the Devils featured a pair of 1,000-yard backs (Brandon Barnes and Zak Leko). Last season, 10 ball carriers toted the football to a 4.3 yard per attempt average (1662 yards). Five juniors and two sophomores combined for 281 carries for 1073 yards and 13 touchdowns. Besides Liberati, Jason Thompson and Danny Shultz are their two returning rushing leaders. Thompson ran for 348 yards on 60 attempts (5.8 ypc) as a freshman. Shultz led the team with a 6.3 yard per carry average (35 attempts, 220 yards) last fall.
Encore performance by Rutecki.
Junior defensive back Austin Rutecki hopes to have the same-type of success that he had last year. As a sophomore, Rutecki led the team in tackles (56) and interceptions (3). Despite the fact that the Blue Devils only managed to sack the opposing quarterback three times, Lisbon did force 19 turnovers (6 INTs/13 FRs). Senior lineman Anthony Rhodes recovered 4 fumbles while stopping 31 ball carriers. Junior linebacker Frankie Morrell was involved in 32 tackles and pounced on 2 loose balls. A pair of sophomores – Colin Sweeney (CB) and Bailey McCullough (DL) – accumulated 14 and 23 tackles apiece.
2013: Josh Liberati – 706
2012: Josh Liberati – 333
2011: Eric Walker – 239
2013: Brandon Barnes – 561
2012: Brandon Barnes – 1192
2011: Zac Barnes – 652
2013: Shawn McKinnon – 258
2012: Jagr Groubert – 146
2011: Brad Cox – 187
2013: Austin Rutecki – 56
2012: Jagr Groubert – 46
2011: Jacob Borg – 56
2013: Austin Rutecki – 3
2012: Jagr Groubert – 2
2011: Zac Barnes – 3
Fact Finder: Lisbon is one of two area schools to have not had a winning season since 2006 (Sebring)…The Blue Devils have won their last two season openers…Lisbon has posted a 1-33 mark in the month of October in their last 34 outings.