Champion prepares to take the next step under coach Wagner

Champion begins the 2017 season with a matchup with Warren JFK.

2017 Champion Football Preview
Head Coach: Nick Wagner, 2nd season (4-6)
Last Season: 4-6 (2-4), T-5th place in AAC Blue
Division: V (Region 17)

More:High School Football previews from other teams

The Good News
Returning Starters: Offense – 7; Defense – 6
Champion had won just three road games prior to last year since fall of 2013 (3-12). However, last Fall, the Golden Flashes came away with their first winning season away from home since 2010 (3-2) by winning three of five. Champion has also won the opener in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2007 and 2008.

Coach Nick Wagner views a lot of positives entering his second summer at the helm of the Champion football program. “This off-season has been a very productive one. The kids have worked extremely hard in the weight room and we’re a much stronger team than we were a year ago. We have roughly 18 freshmen coming out – so numbers will be up for the Flashes. The kids also have a better understanding of the terminology and are more comfortable with the playbook.”

Nate Stahlman returns for his senior season on offense. As a freshman (in 2014), he led the Flashes in rushing with 538 yards. Over his first three years at the varsity level, he’s compiled 883 rushing yards on 248 carries (6 TDs). Last Fall, Stahlman finished second on the team with 16 catches for 221 yards (2 TDs). Up front, the Golden Flashes return seniors Mike Greer and Cain Walters. Sophomore Nick Stahlman takes over at quarterback. Junior Kenny Postlethwait is in the mix for time out of the backfield this Fall. On defense, Griffin Howell is back at his linebacker spot after tallying 114 tackles and 3 quarterback takedowns as a junior. He was honored by being named to the Second-Team All-AAC Blue Tier. His linebacker mate Nathan Russell is back after completing the 2016 season with 38 tackles. In the secondary, Stahlman (38 tackles, 2 INTs) and Carter Mast (31 tackles) will both be welcomed back this Fall.

2017 Schedule
Aug. 24 – Warren JFK, 7
Sept. 1 – Rittman, 7
Sept. 8 – at McDonald, 7
Sept. 15 – at Girard, 7
Sept. 22 – LaBrae, 7
Sept. 29 – Newton Falls, 7
Oct. 6 – at Liberty, 7
Oct. 13 – Campbell Memorial, 7
Oct. 20 – at Lakeview, 7
Oct. 27 – at Brookfield, 7

Challenges
In 2012, Champion averaged 304.6 yards per game. Over the past four seasons, the team has failed to gain an average of 275 yards in any season. During that time frame, the Flashes have been able to post an average of 233.4 yards.

Offensively, the Golden Flashes must replace their three-year starter at quarterback (Brandon Allen) and their versatile standout (Noah Bayus). Allen passed for 1369 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago. Throughout his time as the starter (2014-16), Allen completed 215 passes for 2,788 yards and 22 scores. Bayus caught 76 balls over the last two seasons for an average of 16.8 yards. Last season, Bayus tossed a touchdown pass and ran for another 5 while accumulating a 11.0 yard per carry average (28 rushes, 309 yards). Defensively, Champion will look to replace the likes of Chris Chaney (82 tackles, 5 QB sacks) and Will Kovach (65 tackles, 2 INTs). Each were honored on the All-AAC team last Fall (Chaney, 1st-team; Kovach, 2nd-team). Also gone from last year’s unit are Bayus (51 tackles, 3 QB Sacks), Hunter Hughes (43 tackles), Jerry Sabo (40 tackles), Logan Brown (38 tackles) and Dan Culler (30 tackles). “We have to replace some skill that graduated last year including YSU commit Bayus,” says Wagner. “We’ll be replacing our quarterback (Allen), multiple receivers and some skilled defensive backs. We have the kids that can do a great job in those positions but game experience will be something the new starting Flashes will need to gain.”

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: .350 (35-65)
Playoff Appearances: 0
Playoff Record: 0-0
League Championships: 0
League Record: 17-44*
*-2007 Trumbull Athletic Conference; 2008-2016 All-American Conference

2016 Results
Brookfield 28 Golden Flashes 6
Lakeview 48 Golden Flashes 6
Campbell Memorial 32 Golden Flashes 16
Liberty 25 Golden Flashes 14
Golden Flashes 14 Newton Falls 6
LaBrae 43 Golden Flashes 6
Golden Flashes 38 Girard 34
Garfield 50 Golden Flashes 28
Golden Flashes 20 Conneaut 14
Golden Flashes 42 Waterloo 27

2016 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 19.0 (T-42nd in Area)
Total Offense: 259.6
Passing Offense: 144.7
Rushing Offense: 114.9
Scoring Defense: 30.7 (43rd in Area)
Total Defense: 337.3
…Within the last 15 years (2002-16), Champion has been able to average 20-points or more in just four seasons (2007, 2010, 2012, 2013). With the highest total coming in 2010 at 27.8 points per game.

Key Number
The Golden Flashes began last season by scoring 32 points per game while posting a 3-1 mark. However, Champion finished the year losing five of their final six and averaging just 10.3 points per matchup over their last six outings.

Featured Stat
Interception Leader since 2009:
2016: Will Kovach & Nate Stahlman – 2
2015: Noah Bayus – 6
2014: Joe Batcho – 2
2013: Matt Gorrell, Joe Batcho, Bailey Slyk – 1
2012: James Dorsey & Rocco Sandrella – 2
2011: Tyler Chincic & Jason Cyrus – 2
2010: Nathan Vasey – 4
2009: Dominic DeMartini – 4

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