2015 Lisbon Football Preview

2015 Lisbon Football Preview
Head Coach: Jim Tsilimos, 23rd season (123-106)
2014 Record: 7-3 (4-3), ITCL Upper Tier
5-Year Winning Percentage: 26.0%
Division/Region: 6/19
Returning Letter Winners: 15
Returning Offensive Starters: 9
Returning Defensive Starters: 9

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2014 Team Stats
Rushing Offense: 230.1
Passing Offense: 148.2
Total Offense: 378.3
Scoring Offense: 31.9 (11th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 24.7 (33rd in Area)

2014 Statistical Leaders
Rushing: Jason Thompson – 1023 yards, 7.5 ypc, 11 TDs
Passing: Josh Liberati – 1461 yards, 58.0%, 13 TDs
Receiving: Jared White – 26 catches, 445 yards, 4 TDs
Tackles: Frankie Morrell – 101
QB Sacks: Frankie Morrell – 6.0
Interceptions: Austin Rutecki – 5

2015 Schedule
Aug. 27 – at Tuscarawas Central Catholic, 7
Sept. 4 – Mineral Ridge, 7
Sept. 11 – at United, 7
Sept. 18 – East Palestine, 7
Sept. 25 – at South Range, 7
Oct. 2 – Wellsville, 7
Oct. 9 – Southern, 7
Oct. 16 – at Columbiana, 7
Oct. 23 – at Leetonia, 7
Oct. 30 – Crestview, 7

Key Losses: Linemen Danny Donohue (63 tackles, 4 sacks) and Anthony Rhodes (50 tackles, 2 sacks) both graduated this past spring. They combined for 148 defensive stops over the course of the past two seasons. They anchored an offensive line which freed up holes for Blue Devil runners to gain over 230 yards per contest on the ground and to give the passing game time to excel.

Key Returnees: Lisbon may have the strongest senior class in the area with tons of experience. Four-year starting quarterback Josh Liberati threw for the second most yards in a single season in school history last year. As a junior, Liberati completed 58% of his throws for 1461 yards. That’s only 122 stripes behind Jason Elliott’s mark in 1998 (1583). Josh has passed for 2,500 yards and 21 scores throughout his varsity career.

Key Storyline: In his fifth season since returning to the helm of the Lisbon football program, Jim Tsilimos saw the team make moves in the right direction last year. The Blue Devils had posted a 3-52 mark in their previous 55 conference games prior to last year. Lisbon notched a 4-3 record in the ITCL’s Upper Tier, surpassing their 55-game mark in just 7 contests. The Devils also registered their first winning season overall (7-3) since 2005 (7-3). Tsilimos says, “(This group) understands the meaning of team because they all get along and support one another (which) I love.”

Strengths: A major reason why Lisbon increased their win total by four games was due to the maturation of the offense. Liberati, the team’s quarterback, saw his production almost double. He saw a major bump in his completion percentage from 45% in 2013 to 58% last year while attempting 48 more passes. A signal caller who struggled with his touchdown to interception ratio the previous two seasons (8 TDs, 15 INTs) saw his passes soar into the hands of his receivers more often than not. Liberati threw just 5 picks compared to 13 touchdowns. The receiving duo of Josh Craig and Jared White helped in aiding their quarterback. Craig caught 24 balls last year, which was an increase of 14 catches, for 248 yards. It was surprising to see the production that White had shown in 2014 coming off of a sophomore campaign which saw him just catch 2 passes. Jared hauled in 26 throws for an average of 17.1 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Blue Devils’ rushing attack posted a solid season by compiling 230 yards per game and 33 touchdowns on the season. Junior Jason Thompson ran for over 1000-yards (1023) as he crossed the goal line 11 times and amassed a 7.5 yard per carry average. A quartet of seniors (Austin Davis, 406; Frankie Morrell, 313; Danny Shultz, 268; Josh Liberati, 264) all rushed for over 250 yards last fall.

Weaknesses: Losing two All-ITCL players (Donohue and Rhodes) will be tough for a line which also lost key contributors – Colt Carlisle and Bryan Scarabino. In order for Lisbon to be successful this year, they must find adequate replacements to fill the hole on offense and defense to that those seniors left behind.

Game to Watch: October 23 at Leetonia
…For the first time in a decade, Lisbon will be in the same division as Leetonia. In 2005, both were competing in the Tri-County League. Now, they are positioned in the ITCL South Tier. The Spaghetti Bowl has been played in August for the past nine years, they’ll have make the entree in October this fall. I don’t think there will be too many people complaining.

New ITCL White Division
Columbiana
Leetonia
Lisbon
Southern
Wellsville

Odds and Ends
All-Time Single Season Passing Yardage
1998: Jason Elliott, 1583
2014: Josh Liberati, 1461
1953: Dean Nicholson, 1420
1994: Zach Williams, 1283
1952: Dean Nicholson, 1263

Recent League Finishes
2014: T-4th ITCL Upper (4-3)
2013: 7th ITCL Upper (1-6)
2012: 7th ITCL Upper (1-6)
2011: 8th ITCL Upper (0-7)
2010: 8th ITCL Upper (0-7)

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