Competition fuels many in Columbiana’s camp this summer

Columbiana opens up with a brutal three-game stretch which includes Reserve, McDonald and Springfield.

Columbiana Football

2017 Columbiana Football Preview
Head Coach: Bob Spaite, 29th season overall (173-117-4)
Last Season: 7-3 (3-1), 2nd place in ITCL White
Division: VI (Region 21)

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: 61.0% (64-41)
Playoff Appearances: 4
Playoff Record: 0-4
League Championships: 1 (2015)
League Record: 40-24

More:High School Football previews from other teams

2016 Results
Clippers 38 Leetonia 0
Clippers 19 Wellsville 12
Lisbon 33 Clippers 13
Springfield 14 Clippers 13
Clippers 52 Southern 16
Clippers 53 Mineral Ridge 21
Clippers 59 Sebring 7
Clippers 45 East Palestine 19
Crestview 17 Clippers 14
Clippers 63 Western Reserve 52

2016 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 36.5 (8th in Area)
Total Offense: 393.8
Passing Offense: 179.2
Rushing Offense: 214.6
Scoring Defense: 19.8 (16th in Area)
…Columbiana’s defense finished 16th in the area in scoring average (19.8). It marked the first year in four seasons which the Clippers were able to hold their opponents under 21-points per game. That feat was a common stat for the Clippers throughout the eight years prior to 2013. They posted figures of less than 21-points per game from 2005 to 2012.

New League: Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference
East Palestine

The Good News
Despite losing so much to graduation, the Clippers return 18 letter winners. In terms of receivers – a solid grouping of three seniors return in Jarrett Nemick (16 catches, 170 yards), Zach Phillips (17 catches, 295 yards), and the team’s slot receiver Dustin Bennett (17 catches, 322 yards, 3 TDs). Sophomore Jakob Cross attempted 27 passes (11-27) and threw for 156 yards in spot duty last season. Cross is the returning rushing leader after gaining 9.3 yards per attempt (287 yards) and 4 touchdowns. The Clippers have a solid nucleus of promising linemen in Kyle Ferraro (SR), Shane Moore (SR), Matt Hopfenzise (JR), Tyler Ziggotti (SO), Nate Davis (SO), Wayne Davis (SO), Quentin Cross (SO), and Josh Stilson (SO). On the defensive side of the ball, coach Spaite is quick to point out that tradition and the type of attitude he prefers is back. Frank Rupert (66 tackles) and Zach Witherow (57 tackles) return at linebacker. In the defensive backfield, Phillips (33 tackles, 2 INTs) and Bennett (36 tackles) both are back for their senior seasons. As is Jayden Graham and Jakob Cross – who will play a role in the defense this season as well.

2017 Schedule
Aug. 25 – at Western Reserve, 7
Sept. 1 – McDonald, 7
Sept. 8 – at Springfield, 7
Sept. 15 – Leetonia, 7
Sept. 22 – at United, 7
Sept. 29 – at Toronto, 7
Oct. 6 – Wellsville, 7
Oct. 13 – at Lisbon, 7
Oct. 20 – Southern, 7
Oct. 27 – at East Palestine, 7

The Bad News
Returning Starters: Offense – 3; Defense – 4
All good things must come to an end. In Columbiana, that is saying good bye to a few of the all-time greats in Clipper football history. Quarterback Mitch Davidson broke almost every statistical passing record known to man in school history. Davidson completed 60.5% (557-920) of his passes from his freshman year to his senior season. He threw for 7751 yards and 85 touchdowns. He also rushed for 3633 yards (6.2 avg) and scored 45 times on the ground. If you’re looking for total yards – he eclipsed the 11,000-yard mark (11,384). Four-year letterwinner Keenan Green led the team in tackles (2016: 105; 2015: 118) and in quarterback sacks (2016: 9 ½; 2015: 9) in each of the last two seasons. Sean Congemi, a four-year starter, moved to guard after his freshman year at tight end as he was a force on defense from his linebacker position totaling 311 tackles since 2014. Connor Stacy, another three-year starter, tallied 212 defensive stops since his sophomore year as well.

Coach Spaite views his group as an unproven bunch entering camp. “We have inexperience everywhere on offense with the exception of receiver. We lack depth on defense as we’ll have to replace our entire starting front four.”

Key Number
Columbiana lost two games by 3-points or less in 2016. The Clippers were nipped by rival-Crestview in week two (17-14) and by Springfield in week seven (14-13).

Featured Stat
A listing of the Clippers’ rushers who have gained over 800 yards on the ground since 2010:
Austin Barbato – 1335 (2011)
Mitch Davidson – 1137 (2015)
Austin Barbato – 1099 (2010)
Britton Steiginga – 937 (2012)
Mitch Davidson – 906 (2014)
Brandon Hacker – 892 (2012)
Mitch Davidson – 875 (2016)
Nick Roncone – 841 (2010)

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