OLMSTED FALLS — Something will be different Friday night when Olmsted Falls opens the season at Bedford. For the first time in a quarter century, there will be a new coach leading the Bulldogs.
Former Westlake assistant Tom DeLuca is now the man at the helm of the Olmsted Falls football program after taking over for Jim Ryan, who retired last spring. DeLuca and his senior-laden team hope something else is different this fall: their record.
After going to the playoffs in 2010 and ’11, the Bulldogs slumped to 2-8 last season, starting off 0-7 before defeating against Amherst and archrival North Olmsted.
According to senior running back/corner back Joseph Atkinson, the Bulldogs are focused on putting last year behind them.
“We’ve working incredibly hard this summer,” he said. “Now it’s time to come and show we’re ready for this. This team is more united than it has been in any previous season that I’ve been here. Being united and sticking together as a team helped us to deal with the transition in coaching staffs.”
DeLuca praised the team as a “hard-working” group and said the toughest part of the offseason was familiarizing the players with the new terminology that comes with a new playbook.
“We tried to get the kids in front of our stuff and take things one step at a time so there isn’t a lot of confusion,” DeLuca said. “I’m learning about these kids this summer as well. This is really is a great group of kids and I’ve been really impressed by them. The credit for that goes to Coach Ryan, who laid the foundation and built the tradition of this football program.”
Olmsted Falls’ defense will show multiple fronts and look to be much improved from a unit that allowed 35 or more points in a game five times. Junior Nick Fritz will handle the quarterback duties in the spread offense.
However, DeLuca said fans should not expect to see the Bulldogs throwing the ball with reckless abandon just because of the formation.
“Even when we’re in a spread we still want to establish a running game,” DeLuca said. “The spread establishes numbers for the offense. You can count what the defense is doing inside the box. If they have numbers inside the box you can throw, if they have numbers on the outside you can run.”
Senior Jack Grimm, who starts on the offensive and defensive lines, expects the Bulldogs to be mush improved.
“We worked even harder this year to get ready,” said Grimm, who at 6-foot-1 and 276 pounds is the ’Dogs’ biggest player. “The offense and defense both look better this year. We’re going to go out and pound the football. I’m so excited for the season to begin and just go out and hit somebody on the other side and prove all of these people wrong who have been doubting us.”
Not only does Olmsted Falls have a tough Southwestern Conference schedule, but its four non-league opponents — Bedford, Highland, Mayfield and Avon – were a combined 26-16 last season.
“We have a good senior class this year that has good chemistry and has played together for a long time,” said senior wide receiver/defensive back Michael Hansinger. “We have a new offense and a new defense in place. Now we have to create a team identity.”
“That identity is that we’re going to be workhorses out there on the field, flying to the football, hitting people and making things happen.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OLMSTED FALLS BULLDOGS
CONFERENCE: Southwestern Conference
2012 RECORD: 2-8, 2-5
COACH: Tom DeLuca, 1st year
RETURNING SENIORS: 22
FAST FACT: The Bulldogs have won 10 SWC championships dating back to 1959.
Aug. 30 at Bedford
Sept. 6 at Highland
Sept. 12 Mayfield
Sept. 20 Brecksville*
Sept. 27 Westlake*
Oct. 4 at Berea-Midpark*
Oct. 11 Amherst*
Oct. 18 Avon Lake *
Oct. 25 Avon
Nov. 1 at North Olmsted*
All games at 7 p.m.
* Southwestern Conference game