Black River Pirates
COACH: Al Young, 18th year
RETURNING STARTERS: 10
TOP RETURNEES: Gabe Clark, sr., FB/MLB, 6-4, 205; Jon Brietkrenz, sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 240; Chase Smith, sr., RB/DB, 5-10, 165.
KEY TO THE SEASON: The Pirates have one of the top all-around athletes in senior Gabe Clark, who was a first-team selection as a linebacker last season, and will probably be one of the top running backs in the league this year. Young is a veteran coach for a school that has a natural rivalry with the perennial top two powers in the Stars Division -- Buckeye and
COACH: Chris O’Brien, 1st year
RETURNING STARTERS: 4
TOP RETURNEES: Bill Sutton Jr., sr., QB, 6-3, 195; Jordan Valente, sr., OT/LB, 6-1, 225; Kyle Drdek, sr., C/DT, 5-10, 225.
KEY TO THE SEASON: The Hurricanes aren’t returning a ton of talent from last year and have limited depth, but they did receive some help from St. Edward transfer Brandon DeJesus -- who O’Brien expects to shore up the line. O’Brien takes over the program after eight years as an assistant at Bay.
COACH: Mike Akers, 3rd year
RETURNING STARTERS: 14
TOP RETURNEES: Steve Bartok, sr., HB/LB, 5-9, 175; Nick Rados, sr., WB/LB, 5-10, 180; Zach Upton, sr., TE/LB, 6-1, 195.
KEY TO THE SEASON: Akers doesn’t even try to disguise his annual game plan -- beat opponents up with the Cardinals’ imposing size and strength.
COACH: Billy Burke, 1st year
RETURNING STARTERS: 8
TOP RETURNEES: Josh Barney, sr., OL/DL, 6-2, 280; Jesse Horton, sr., QB, 5-11, 185; Cory Reisner, jr., RB/S, 6-0, 190.
KEY TO THE SEASON: Burke takes over the Buckeye program after moving to the area from
“That’s where we’re going to make our money,” Burke said.
COACH: Rob Clarico, 4th year
RETURNING STARTERS: 12
TOP RETURNEES: Shane Robinson, sr., FB/DB, 5-11, 175; Mike Herb, sr., QB/DB, 6-2, 200; Kyle Shaw, sr., WR/DB, 6-1, 175.
KEY TO THE SEASON: The Wildcats should have one of the top offenses in the league, fueled by a stellar aerial attack between senior quarterback Mike Herb and wide receivers Kyle Shaw and Matt Herb. Keystone will also have All-PAC fullback Shane Robinson returning to the backfield.
COACH: Matt Stoll, 18th year
RETURNING STARTERS: 5
TOP RETURNEES: Kull McClurg, sr., QB, height weight; Erick Saunders, sr., WR, height weight; Cory Kidd, sr., RB, height weight.
KEY TO THE SEASON: The Dukes have some of the league’s top players from last season back, but have lost their entire offensive and defensive lines. It’ll be a race to see if the skill players can make plays while the young lines gain experience, or if opponents tee off on the inexperienced blockers and ensure
COACH: Mike Collier, 1st year
RETURNING STARTERS: 6
TOP RETURNEES: Mike Bason, sr., RB/OLB/CB, 5-9, 175; William Payne, sr., C/NT, 6-4, 250; Anthony Hitchens, so., RB/LB, 5-10, 180.
KEY TO THE SEASON: Clearview has plenty of big names returning from its Stripes Division championship season. The Clippers have first-teamers on both sides of the ball -- William Payne on the offensive line, and Ben Cline and Nick Huesel on defense -- and have four second-teamers returning as well.
“I’m pretty excited about this season,” said first-year coach Mike Collier.
COACH: Jason Ward, 2nd year
RETURNING STARTERS: 11
TOP RETURNEES: Aaron Fortney, sr., G/MLB, 5-10, 200; Richie Bics, sr., FB/LB, 6-1, 175; Chas Manross, sr., WR/SS, 6-2, 185.
KEY TO THE SEASON: The Raiders took some big hits in the skill positions -- most noticeably All-PAC first-teamers Steve DuPlaga at quarterback, Ryan Klink at running back and David Banyasz at wide receiver -- but will have a strong defense this year, led by first-teamer Aaron Fortney at linebacker and second-teamers Jeff Shaffer and Richie Bics.
Lutheran West Longhorns
RETURNING STARTERS: 14
TOP RETURNEES: David Krieger, sr., RB/LB, 6-1, 190; Colin McHugh, sr., DL/OL, 6-0, 220; Josh Malave, sr., RB/LB, 5-8, 165.
KEY TO THE SEASON: Fehrs and the Longhorns are looking to build off a great finish to a disappointing season. Lutheran West lost its first six games last year, then won out to finish 4-3 in the
“We’re hoping to build on that momentum,” Fehrs said. “It was nice to have that strong finish because all those kids that played those last four games are back.”
COACH: Dave McFarland, 1st year
RETURNING STARTERS: 10
TOP RETURNEES: Kris Robinson, senior, WR/S, 6-3, 175; Shwuan Stevenson, senior, WR/OLB, 6-4, 200; Dalton Rimbert, senior, OG/NT, 6-1, 230.
KEY TO THE SEASON: McFarland, who coached at Elyria Catholic for the past four seasons, believes that the key to snapping the school’s 37-game losing streak will come down to how quickly the defense gets competitive.
“We believe you have to play great defense,” McFarland said. “They have to give the offense a chance. Our focus is to find 11 players who want to fly to the ball and make plays.”