Mathews welcomes back 10 offensive starters in Protopapa’s 2nd season

Mathews will play at Ashtabula St. John in week one.

Mathews Mustangs High School Football - Vienna, OH

2017 Mathews Football Preview
Head Coach: John Protopapa, 2nd season at Mathews (5-5)
Last Season: 5-5 (2-3), 4th place in NAC
Division: VII (Region 25)

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: 48.5% (50-53)
Playoff Appearances: 3
Playoff Record: 0-3
League Championships: 3 (2007, 2008, 2014)
League Record*: 27-23
*-NAC member from 2009-2017; East Suburban Conference member 2007-2008

More:High School Football previews from other teams

2016 Results
Newbury 29 Mustangs 28
Grand Valley 39 Mustangs 12
Mustangs 34 Chalker 15
Mustangs 20 Pymatuning Valley 14
Mustangs 30 Madonna 14
Rootstown 42 Mustangs 0
Windham 42 Mustangs 41
Western Reserve Academy 47 Mustangs 20
Mustangs 43 Leetonia 0
Mustangs 49 St. John 6

2016 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 27.7
Total Offense: 349.1
Passing Offense: 115.4
Rushing Offense: 233.7
Scoring Defense: 24.8
…Mathews has registered three consecutive seasons of averaging 28-points or better per game (2014: 30.9; 2015: 32.0; 2016: 27.7).

Northeastern Athletic Conference Lineup
Grand Valley
Pymatuning Valley
Southington Chalker

The Good News
Returning Starters: Offense – 10; Defense – 6
Coach Protopapa added a few new touches but the Mustangs were an offensive attack of a large group of ball carriers led by senior Daniel Canter. Seven players rushed for 130-yards or more in 2016. Canter paced the group with his 6.7 yards per carry average (112 carries, 750 yards) and 7 scores. Andrew Simon and Dillon Canter rushed for 392 and 332 yards respectively. Dillon, a senior also, is the team’s quarterback as he tossed for 1016 yards and 9 touchdowns on 51 of 97 pass attempts (52.6%). Senior receiver Chris Ritz caught 15 passes for 355 yards (23.7 avg) and 2 touchdowns. The Mustangs also return their entire offensive line – center Bryan Prentice (SO), guards Gabe Canter (JR) and John Smith (JR) as well as their tackles Tyler Piontkowski (JR) and Santino Lamancusa (JR). Mathews also will have their fullback Tanner Hunt back in the mix this Fall. On defense, Mathews returns six starters from a year ago including DE Lamancusa, linebackers Andy Miller (JR), Hunt, and Daniel Canter along with help in the secondary from Ritz and Simon.

2017 Schedule
Aug. 25 – at St. John, 7
Sept. 1 – Leetonia, 7
Sept. 8 – at Sebring, 7
Sept. 15 – at Windham, 7
Sept. 22 – Rootstown, 7
Sept. 29 – at Madonna (WV), 7
Oct. 6 – at Pymatuning Valley, 7
Oct. 13 – Southington, 7
Oct. 20 – Grand Valley, 7
Oct. 27 – Newbury, 7

The Bad News
The Mustangs must replace 9 seniors including Ethan DiGiacomo (244 rushing yards, 159 receiving yards; 7 offensive touchdowns) and defensive tackle Eddie Epperley. Mathews saw an uptick in the amount of points allowed from 172 in 2015 to 248 last season. The Mustangs dropped a pair of one-point games to league rivals Windham (42-41) and Newbury (29-28) in matchups which would’ve given fans a better outlook on their season. Coach Protopapa likes the experience returning but sees low numbers in camp, “We’ll have only 25 to 27 players, which limits what we can do in practice and provides us little help in case of injuries.”

Key Number
The Mustangs have not had a losing season since 2012 (1-9) as they’ve posted a 25-17 record over the past four years.

Featured Stat
Six Mustangs have rushed for over 240-yards over the past two seasons:
Bryan Leipply, 2031 (2015)
Daniel Canter, 750 (2016)
Daniel Canter, 431 (2015)
Andrew Simon, 392 (2016)
Dillon Canter, 332 (2016)
Noah Shreves, 311 (2015)
Dillon Canter, 245 (2015)
Ethan DiGiacomo, 244 (2016)

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