Boardman looks to bounce back in 2017 behind their QB O’Horo

Boardman begins 2017 with a matchup against East.

2017 Boardman Football Preview
Head Coach: Joe Ignazio, 5th season (13-28)
Last Season: 4-6 (1-2), 3rd place in AAC Gold
Division: II (Region 7)

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: .476 (50-55)
Playoff Appearances: 4
Playoff Record: 1-4
League Championships: 2 (2011, 2015)
League Record: 27-25*
*-2007-2013 Federal League; 2015-2016 All-American Conference

More:High School Football previews from other teams

2016 Results
Spartans 21 Lakeside 14
Fitch 12 Spartans 7
Spartans 21 Ursuline 14 OT
Harding 46 Spartans 15
Canfield 24 Spartans 20
Perry 21 Spartans 6
Steubenville 28 Spartans 0
Jackson 21 Spartans 14
Spartans 28 Mooney 26
Spartans 41 East 0

2016 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 17.3 (T-46th in Area)
Total Offense: 239.9
Passing Offense: 93.1
Rushing Offense: 146.8
Scoring Defense: 20.6 (T-21st in Area)
…Boardman last outscored their opposition in 2011 in terms of average scoring.
2016: Boardman 17.3 to 20.6
2015: Boardman 14.2 to 15.2
2014: Boardman 8.1 to 20.8
2013: Boardman 9.2 to 31.9
2012: Boardman 25.5 to 34.8
2011: Boardman 25.5 to 17.4

The Good News
Returning Starters: Offense – 5; Defense – 5
The Spartans return their junior starting signal caller – Mike O’Horo. The last time Boardman went into a season with a returning starter at the quarterback position was in 2011 when senior Ryan Pollifrone was welcomed back after tossing for 1,090 yards (in 2010). O’Horo completed 47.5% of his passes as a sophomore (75-158). He threw 5 touchdowns and compiled 915 yards via the air. O’Horo also returns as the team’s leading ground gainer as he amassed 336 stripes (5 TDs) last year. He’ll have a pair of targets – Mike Melewski (16 catches, 127 yards) and Dom Stilliana (7 catches, 73 yards) – who displayed a knack for hauling in passes in crucial situations. Melewski was an honorable mention recipient last year in the AAC on defense in the secondary. Upfront on offense – the Spartans will be anchored by their center Bob Toth and tackle Tino Arcuri. The defensive effort has been a hallmark of coach Ignazio’s teams in recent memory. The Spartans have not allowed an average of 21-points to be scored in a single season since year #1 of Ignazio’s tenure at Boardman (2013: 31.9). Last year, Boardman allowed 20.6. The year prior, they permitted just a 12.2 average from their opponents. In 2014, the Spartans may have only scored 81 points throughout the season but allowed just 208 (20.8). Evan Walton and Arcuri return along the front line for Boardman. They’ll also have linebackers Joe Ieraci and Kareem Hamdam back in the mix this coming season. Coach Joe Ignazio is optimistic about his group, “We return a lot of experience at key positions on both sides of the ball.” The team is high on senior receiver/defensive back Jujuan Forte and junior tight end/linebacker Alex Huzicka entering this coming season.

2017 Schedule
Aug. 25 – at East, 7
Sept. 1 – Howland, 7
Sept. 8 – at Jackson, 7
Sept. 15 – at Steubenville, 7
Sept. 22 – Mooney, 7:30
Sept. 29 – Canfield, 7
Oct. 6 – at Harding, 7
Oct. 12 – at Ursuline, 7
Oct. 20 – Fitch, 7
Oct. 27 – Lakeside, 7

The Bad News
Boardman lost their featured running back, four of their top six pass catchers, and three defensive players who were picked as First-Team or Honorable Mention in the league last year. Koby Adu-Poku ran for 939 yards while scoring 12 touchdowns on the ground. Adu-Poku also intercepted a pass on defense for the Spartans. Travis Koontz led Sparty in receiving in each of the past three seasons. Koontz, in 2016, caught a career-high 28 passes for 431 yards. Linebacker Alex King also departed with the class of 2017 after totaling 95 tackles and 3 quarterback takedowns. His partner in crime Jordan Acevedo finished his senior season with 46 tackles and 3 sacks. Gaven Strines was honored by the AAC for his defensive work; however, he caught 10 passes (3rd on team) and ran for an average of 4.5 yards (95 yards on 21 carries) on the offensive side of the ball. There’s a lot there to replace including 30-some seniors from last year’s group. “We’ll be young (this summer),” says Ignazio. “We have some depth (issues) and inexperience (right now).”

Key Number
Boardman has finished with a losing record in four of the last five years (2015: 6-5). Prior to 2012, the Spartans did not post a single losing mark in their previous five campaigns (2007-11: 33-21).

Featured Stat
Since 2010, Boardman’s top 5 rushers have been:
1) Devin Campbell – 1285 (2011)
2) Koby Adu-Poku – 939 (2016)
3) John Babos – 909 (2012)
4) Mario Graziani – 872 (2015)
5) Mario Graziani – 843 (2014)

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