Defense appears to be a real strength in Newton Falls with 8 starters returning

Newton Falls welcomes Waterloo in week one.

Newton Falls Tigers High School Football

2017 Newton Falls Football Preview
Head Coach: Josh Franke, 3rd season (2-18)
Last Season: 2-8 (0-6), 7th place in AAC Blue
Division: V (Region 17)

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: .200 (20-80)
Playoff Appearances: 0
Playoff Record: 0-0
League Championships: 0
League Record: 8-51
*-2007 Trumbull Athletic Conference; 2008-2016 All-American Conference

More:High School Football previews from other teams

2016 Results
Campbell Memorial 35 Tigers 0
Liberty 20 Tigers 14
Girard 48 Tigers 24
LaBrae 47 Tigers 8
Champion 14 Tigers 6
Brookfield 54 Tigers 12
Edgewood 20 Tigers 6
Tigers 24 Mineral Ridge 21
Tigers 21 Jackson-Milton 0
Rootstown 28 Tigers 7

2016 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 12.2 (52nd in Area)
Total Offense: 244.5
Passing Offense: 76.7
Rushing Offense: 192.3
Scoring Defense: 28.7 (40th in Area)
…The Tigers saw an improvement in their scoring defense from a team which allowed an average of 50.3 points to be scored per game in 2015 to a defensive unit which allowed 28.7 points (+21.6).

The Good News
Returning Starters: Offense – 8; Defense – 8
Last season, the Tigers posted a victory over playoff bound-Jackson-Milton in week two (21-0). That ended a 12-game losing streak against teams who went onto qualify for the post-season later in the year. Their last win came against LaBrae on October 7, 2011 (28-27 in overtime). Coach Josh Franke reflects on what worked and where this team in headed, “Offensively, we had a lot of success running the football last year and we’ll continue to build off of that. We return the majority of our offensive line (4 starters – Jacob Whisonant, C; Chris Rankin, LT; Kyle Wilcox, LG; Will Sigley, RT), our starting full back (Colton Hunt), and a 1000-yard rusher (Bill Wright) – we expect to be even more effective in the run game this year. Defensively, we felt we were much improved last year from my first season, we feel like our defense could be the strength of our football team.”
Newton Falls returns each of their offensive leaders in quarterback Braden Bungard, running back Bill Wright and playmaker Jordan Edmondson. Bungard took over as the Tigers’ signal caller last Fall for the graduated Josh Walters. Bungard completed 50.5% of his passes (56-111) for 656 yards. He also ran for 354 yards and 5 touchdowns. Wright is back as well after seeing a major increase in his production from 2015 (236 rushing yards) to 2016 (1012 rushing yards). Bill gained more yards on the ground last year (1012) than the team’s collection of running backs gained in 2015 (973). Jordan Edmondson gained over 2,000-yards on the ground as an 8th grader in 2015. As a freshman, he gave the coaching staff a lot of looks at what he could become in the future. “Jordan is an electrifying talent,” says his coach. “He can make something big happen anytime he has the ball. He has already received interest from several Division I schools.” Edmondson gained 269 yards on 55 carries last Fall (4.9 average) while catching a team-high 21 passes for 299 yards (14.2 average). On defense, the Tigers’ return their top two tacklers (Colton Hunt and Preston Rapczak) and their leader in quarterback sacks (Will Sigley) and also interceptions (Jacob Wright). Hunt, who’s eyeing the school’s all-time record for tackles in a career, has amassed 199 tackles over the past two seasons (2015: 114; 2016: 85). Rapczak led the team in fumble recoveries with 4 and finished second in defensive stops with 70 as a sophomore. Sigley led the Tigers with 3 sacks while Wright finished with 4 interceptions.

2017 Schedule
Aug. 25 – Waterloo, 7
Sept. 1 – Jackson-Milton, 7
Sept. 8 – at Mineral Ridge, 7
Sept. 15 – Rootstown, 7
Sept. 22 – at Newbury, 7
Sept. 29 – at Champion, 7
Oct. 6 – at LaBrae, 7
Oct. 13 – Girard, 7
Oct. 20 – at Liberty, 7
Oct. 27 – Campbell Memorial, 7

The Bad News
Newton Falls will be playing up a division compared to last year. The Tigers are set to begin 2017 in Division V instead of VI. Since 2010, Newton Falls has posted a winning percentage of 12.9% (9-61). Since 2014, no Tiger has caught more passes than Ben Simpson (45 catches for 602 yards). Coach Franke is aware of his team’s struggles in the passing game. “That’s something we’re spending a lot of time improving. We have a group of very talented but young receivers. We do return our starting quarterback, who struggled at times while playing as a first-year starter, but we believe having ten games of experience under his belt will make a huge difference.” Simpson also finished within the top four tacklers on the team in each of the last two seasons. He’s since graduated and so has Mitchell Champion (32 tackles), Justin Sahli (65 tackles) and Brandon Moore (3 fumble recoveries) who were all instrumental in the defensive improvement one year ago. Speaking of those who will be missed due to graduation is Jacob Whisonant – who was named to the All-AAC Second-Team as an offensive lineman.

Key Number
The Tigers have dropped their last 32 (All-American) conference matchups. Their last win came at home against Girard on September 14, 2012 (27-14).

Featured Stat
Since 2010, the Tigers’ passing leaders are as follows:
2016 – Braden Bungard, 656
2015 – Josh Walters, 1384
2014 – Josh Walters, 1085
2013 – Brandon Fuller, 520
2012 – Brandon Fuller, 548
2011 – Matt Brazin, 1525
2010 – Matt Brazin, 491

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