Playmaker Ferry is back for Leetonia

Leetonia welcomes Lowellville in a week one clash.

Leetonia Bears High School Football - Leetonia, OH.

2017 Leetonia Football Preview
Head Coach: Hadi Hadi, 3rd season (2-18)
Last Season: 1-9 (0-4), 5th place in ITCL White
Division: VII (Region 25)

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: 35.3% (36-66)
Playoff Appearances: 2
Playoff Record: 0-2
League Championships: 1 (2007)
League Record: 20-44

More:High School Football previews from other teams

2016 Results
Columbiana 38 Bears 0
Lisbon 46 Bears 0
Southern 24 Bears 21
Wellsville 57 Bears 7
East Palestine 47 Bears 3
Bears 33 Lowellville 32, OT
Jackson-Milton 40 Bears 10
Southington 30 Bears 7
Mathews 43 Bears 0
Fairport Harding 20 Bears 7

2016 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 8.1 (54th in Area)
Total Offense: 157.5
Passing Offense: 89.6
Rushing Offense: 67.9
Scoring Defense: 34.3 (47th in Area)
…Over the last three seasons, the Bears have compiled 280 points scored (in 30 games). There were 26 teams that were able to tally over 280 points just last year in the area.

New League: Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference
Columbiana
East Palestine
Leetonia
Lisbon
Southern
Toronto
United
Wellsville

The Good News
Returning Starters: Offense – 7; Defense – 7
The connection between quarterback Brock Simpson to one of his favorite receivers Derrick Grossen will return in 2017. Simpson completed 53 of 114 passes (46.5%) for 577 yards and 5 touchdowns last year. Coach Hadi says of his signal caller, “He has matured well into the starting role and has physically grown as well.” Grossen snagged 18 balls for 214 yards (11.9 average) and a team-high 3 touchdown grabs. Johnathan Cress is back for his junior campaign after averaging 23 yards on kickoff returns. Along the offensive line, Logan Olenik and Isaac Thompson (who was lost for half the year due to an injury in 2016) each return to anchor the front five. The health of Roman Ferry has given the coaching staff room to be optimism along with seven returning starters on each side of the ball. “We’re seeing a real strength in our skill positions,” says coach Hadi Hadi. “We lost Roman (Ferry) for the season last year. He’s back and we’re returning all but one starter at our skill positions but Roman will fill that position nicely.” On defense, the Bears net two of their top four tacklers from a year ago in CoalTin Barcey and Grossen. Barcey brought down 39 ball carriers while Grossen stopped 32. “Barcey can be a difference maker for us if we can find a new position on offense for him as well,” indicates Hadi. Junior defensive back Cress had two interceptions a year ago as he’s been described by the coaching staff as being a very aggressive defender and a speedster. “Another area were we believe will be a strength is in our linebackers and secondary,” comments Hadi. Olenik and Thompson are welcomed back on the defensive line as well.

2017 Schedule
Aug. 25 – Lowellville, 7
Sept. 1 – at Mathews, 7
Sept. 8 – at Southington, 7
Sept. 15 – at Columbiana, 7
Sept. 22 – Toronto, 7
Sept. 29 – at Lisbon, 7
Oct. 6 – East Palestine, 7
Oct. 13 – at United, 7
Oct. 20 – Wellsville, 7
Oct. 27 – at Southern, 7

The Bad News
A pretty large turnover of players from last year to this year leaves the team without their top three rushers. Danny McCool (309 yards), Tanner Barr (190 yards), and Michael Buffone (138 yards) are all gone along with their top pass catcher (Devon Champney – 24 catches, 271 yards). More of the same on defense with almost half the unit has since graduated including Champney (59 tackles), Barr (39 tackles), Derek Bell (28 tackles), Austin Farkas (24 tackles, 4 sacks), Austin Keats (24 tackles) and McCool (3 INTs). “We will need to work on our linemen on both sides of the ball,” points out Hadi. “We’ll be young up front on offense and we’ll be looking to move some guys around. There’s a freshman or two that may be getting a lot of playing time. Again, our line is going to be young and inexperienced.”

Key Number
Leetonia has not had a winning season since 2008 (8-3). The Bears had posted 11 straight seasons without a losing campaign between 1999 and 2009. Now, they’ve finished under .500 in six of their last seven years.

Featured Stat
Since 2010, the Bears’ leading rusher:
2016: Danny McCool – 309 yards, 5.9 average, 2 TDs
2015: Danny McCool – 212 yards, 4.6 average, 1 TD*
2014: Colton Gudat – 571 yards, 4.8 average, 3 TDs
2013: Zack VanGiesen – 1169 yards, 6.2 average, 11 TDs
2012: Zack VanGiesen – 849 yards, 5.5 average, 10 TDs
2011: R.J. Pacella – 411 yards, 5.1 average, 5 TDs
2010: Devan Miller – 1158 yards, 7.5 average, 10 TDs
*-Missing 2 games from the season statistics

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