That’s what the Middies did last year, and you also better believe longtime coach Bill Albright, his staff and his 20 seniors are aiming to prove that was simply an aberration.
“(Last year) motivated us a lot, and everyone showed up in the weight room as soon as we could to make sure that didn’t happen again,” said senior co-captain Ryan Mains, who will start at cornerback and wide receiver. “We’ve got 60 kids out here on the practice field and we just look a lot better out there.
“We won conference our seventh-grade year, and we were only one loss away from winning it our eighth-grade year. So we know our group can win, and we feel confident that we can do so again as seniors.”
To help the Middies achieve their goals, they went out and got some reinforcements from within, bringing in athletes who star in other sports such as basketball, wrestling and baseball.
“It’s nice to have those young men come back out after a few years away,” said Albright, who is entering his 26th year as Midview’s coach. “For most of them, they haven’t played since their freshman years. In the case of Justin Morris (senior wide receiver), this is his first year out totally.
“They are all good kids and good quality individuals, and those are the type of athletes you want on your team.”
Among the new recruits joining Morris, a standout basketball player, are seniors Eddie Brezina (defensive back, basketball) and Dominic Zunis (defensive lineman, wrestling), and junior Eric Lauer (wide receiver, baseball). None of them have played football since their freshman years.
“I guess you can say we recruited them from within our school, because we knew they could make us better,” Mains said.
Added senior co-captain Jack Armstrong, a returning two-way starter on the offensive and defensive line: “That’s going to help us a lot if the pieces fit together, and it looks like they’re fitting together really good right now. That makes us really excited, especially on the offensive side.”
The newcomers will join a group of 18 returning lettermen.
Albright will employ the spread offense full time this season, while going primarily with a 3-4 defensive scheme.
“At our level, you have to build around your personnel in the offseason,” he said. “We felt that with the young men we had coming back, that both defensively and offensively, this would give our kids the best chance to succeed.
“At the wide receiver position we have some athleticism, and defensively, with the linebackers and the secondary we have, those two schemes fit our personnel. They’ve all been working hard with a great attitude, great enthusiasm and they’re all very, very coachable.”
Middie fans got a glimpse of the future last season when then-freshman Cody Calloway started the final three games at quarterback. Barring injury, the job is his.
“His first game was against Avon, who won our (West Shore Conference) championship last year and went unbeaten,” Albright said. “We really liked the way he had poise against a very good football team. He didn’t panic. That showed what type of young man he is and what type of athlete he can become.”
The seniors are comfortable with Calloway, too.
“Everyone saw the last three games that Cody played at quarterback and the potential he showed,” Mains said. “He just needs more reps and more experience, and he’ll get that this year. Our job is to help him as best as we can — block for him, make plays for him.”
Other returning lettermen include seniors Arlington McClinton (defensive lineman), Tait Smith (inside linebacker), Johnny Walsh (outside linebacker), Brendan Large (outside linebacker), Brandon Blascak (defensive back), Nathan Homoki (defensive back), Rich Huber (offensive lineman), David Gilchrist (offensive lineman), Patrick Linn (wide receiver), J.D. Myers (wide receiver) and Jacob Bennett (running back), and juniors Brett Bartone (inside linebacker) and Steven Best (offensive lineman).
“Even though we didn’t post a good record, they gave it their all and maintained the attitude that they could win any game,” Albright said. “We’re going to miss the seniors who graduated from that team.
“I think, like any football team, at this point of the year you have to have the right attitude, do well in scrimmages and improve each week as you lead up to the first game and stay healthy. Without the ability to recruit people off the waiver wire, it’s important to keep kids healthy and fresh. We’re looking for these kids to enjoy the season and have some fun. Hopefully, that will add to some victories.”
Read more high school football previews:
- Elyria Catholic
- North Ridgeville
- Avon Lake
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.