2016 Struthers Football Preview

Struthers begins the 2016 season with a matchup with Liberty on Thursday, August 25.

Struthers Wildcat High School Football

2016 Struthers Football Preview
Head Coach: Curt Kuntz, 5th season (24-18)
2015 Record: 5-5 (2-4), T-5th place in AAC White
2016 Division/Region: 4/13

More:High School Football previews from other teams

2015 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 27.1 (21st in Area)
Scoring Defense: 27.9 (44th in Area)
Passing Offense: 99.8
Rushing Offense: 193.3
Total Offense: 293.1

2015 Results
Lakeview 21 Wildcats 20
Wildcats 48 Edgewood 22
Wildcats 22 Hubbard 14
Wildcats 46 Campbell 7
Poland 42 Wildcats 14
Canfield 45 Wildcats 6
Jefferson 48 Wildcats 30
Niles 39 Wildcats 24
Wildcats 1 Sharon 0 (forfeit)
Wildcats 34 Liberty 7

Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: A.J. Musolino – 984 yards, 61.9%, 12 TDs
Rushing: A.J. Musolino – 830 yards, 5.8 ypc, 13 TDs
Receiving: Tekale Rushton – 27 catches, 474 yards, 6 TDs
Tackles: Robbie Best – 54
QB Sacks: Connor Calabratte – 2.0
Interceptions: Trent Stocker & A.J. Musolino – 1

Recent Wildcat Post-Season Finishes
2013: Division IV (Region 11) Semifinalist
1999: Division IV (Region 13) Semifinalist

2016 Schedule
Aug. 25 – Liberty, 7
Sept. 2 – Toledo Scott, 7
Sept. 9 – Niles, 7*
Sept. 16 – at Jefferson, 7*
Sept. 23 – Canfield, 7
Sept. 30 – at Poland, 7*
Oct. 7 – at Campbell, 7
Oct. 14- at Hubbard, 7*
Oct. 21 – Edgewood, 7*
Oct. 28 – Lakeview, 7*

Keys on Offense
The Wildcats return the league’s Player of the Year – senior A.J. Musolino. A.J. has completed 62% or better in each of the last two years (63.9% total) as he’s also amassed an average of at least 5.5 yards per carry during that stretch as well (1476 yards rushing, 21 TDs). He’ll be joined by fellow senior Regal Reese in the backfield. Reese scored 7 touchdowns and tallied 630 yards on 104 rushes for an average of 6.1 yards per tote. Reese also caught 7 balls for 47 stripes. The big play ability of receiver Tekale Rushton will also be back in 2016. Rushton snagged 27 passes for 474 yards (17.4 avg) as he scored 6 times through the air. A big part of Struthers’ success last year was the ability of the offensive line to not only carve out holes for ball carriers (5.5 avg per carry) but also their knack for giving Musolino time to throw the ball. Anchoring the offensive line will be junior center A.J. Iarussi as well as tackles Jimmy Stefansik and Adam Seszsmak.

Keys on Defense
A staggering trend has followed the Wildcats around for over a decade. In 11 of the last 14 years, Struthers has allowed their opponents to tally more points than they’ve been able to score. With the return of their top three tacklers from 2015, the Wildcats hope to improve upon that fact this Fall. Senior safety Robbie Best led the team with 54 tackles as a junior. Connor Calabratte is back for his junior season after he recorded 51 tackles and 2 sacks last year. A.J. Musolino isn’t only a gifted offensive player, he’s also the third leading tackler (45) from his secondary position. Nathan Richards and Tekale Rushton both completed 2015 with 28 tackles respectively. Trent Stocker (1st-Team DB) and Isaiha Reyes (2nd-Team DL) were both recognized as All-League selections for their play last Fall.

Final Analysis
After experiencing their 7th longest losing streak (4 losses in a row) since 1990, the Wildcats rebounded to defeat Hubbard (22-14) and Edgewood (48-22) before falling to Lakeview in the season finale (21-20) by one point. Coach Kuntz has established the Wildcats as a contender in the White Tier. However, since 1999, dating back to their days in the Metro Athletic Conference Struthers has only had one winning season in league play (2013: 3-2). With the talent and experience Struthers has returning, there’s added pressure on this year’s group.

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