MCDONALD – Ohio (WKBN) – How do you replace 90 percent of your offense from one year to the next? Quite simply you can’t. But for McDonald Blue Devils head coach Dan Williams that is exactly what he and his staff are facing as they enter the 2016 high school football season.
“Offensively we lost like 90 percent of our offense with Ben Carkido throwing for over 1,000 yards, Jake Reckard rushing for over 1,000 yards and Jake also caught 20 some passes out of our offense as well. So we’re replacing 90 percent of our offense,” Williams admitted.
“It’s not going to be just one guy. It’s going to be multiples to fill in (for that production). We have some young running backs and we have a couple seniors back too,” Williams added. “Joe Celli played wing back for us and Michael Zarbaugh is back at fullback.”
Last year Zarbaugh was injured early in the season and returned to play only on defense at linebacker. This year he is fully healthy and able to start at both the fullback and linebacker spots.
“We had a great summer work out,” senior wing back Joey Celli remarked. “Our team worked a lot harder than in my past years, I felt. Our mentality is up more (because of it). We’re expecting to win.”
Williams explained that one of the big changes fans will see with the Devils offense is with Dylan Portolese. “Dylan Portolese is moving from tight end to quarterback. He’s been waiting his turn behind Ben Carkido so were excited about our offense with the skill kids we have.”
“We have two linemen back and a tight end up front that saw some action last year. So offensively I think were actually not in too bad of shape,” Williams said.
“Defensively we lost two linebackers, and three down linemen. That’s where we are trying to put kids in and trying to fill in on defense,” Williams remarked.
The strength of the Blue Devils defense will be in the secondary. That is where they return the most experience.
“We’re excited that we have three secondary kids back out of the four (positions). We have a lot of experience in the secondary. But it’s 50/50, half of the teams we play are pass oriented, half are run oriented. I would rather have the up front guys, the front seven. You always want those guys strong,” Williams explained.
“We’re going to be a little inexperienced with the linebacker spots and inexperienced up front, but we’ve got a lot of competition right now and we’re going to roll a lot of kids through those positions,” Williams added.
Despite the inexperience the Devils will have entering the season, they certainly did not cut back on the competition as they will face non-conference opponents in South Range, Springfield and Black River.
“I’ve been talking about this all pre-season, it’s not easy to schedule games when you have had success. It’s a credit to our kids. We have won football games over the past five years and its hard to find games that maybe are on your level, your same size school even in this area.” Williams stated.
“So we picked up a great South Range team. They are a storied program and I’ve know Dan Yeagley for a long, long time. They do a great job down there so it’s going to be a heck of a game one.”
“Then we have Springfield coming in here in week two, and then we’re traveling to Sullivan Black River in week three. That game I didn’t even secure until March or April. We held out that long and then finally we had to get somebody. So we’re traveling up to Black River for a one year deal with them,” Williams remarked.
“The schedule is tough. Our kids are definitely going to welcome the competition early on. We’re not going to back down, we’re going to come play and play hard every week. But yeah, it’s going to be tough early,” Williams concluded.
“We always try to do better than the year before, and you always try to get to the post season. Last year we were 7-3, that’s a good record, I’ll take it, but somehow we missed the playoffs. Our goal is to make it to the playoffs this year and make a deep run,” Celli remarked.