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Beallsville enjoying increased numbers

BEALLSVILLE – Numbers and optimism are trending upward at Beallsville.

Rusty Lucas begins his second season at the Blue Devils’ grid helm with a roster boasting some 20 players, a nice spike from last year. Increased numbers have buoyed hopes for gridiron success this fall.

The Blue Devils went 3-7 in Lucas’s maiden voyage as head coach. A record that was just a few points away from a winning campaign.

Lucas inherited a 1-9 squad that featured just 15 players.

“The attitude and work ethic of the team have been tremendous. The numbers are much better as well, “ Lucas said. “Year one was an adjustment period for me as a head coach after being an assistant for Dave Caldwell for 14 years. There is a lot more on your plate as a head coach.

“I felt we made some solid progress last year. We lost a couple close games late. I thought the kids turned the corner last year. They started to believe again,” he added. “Last year we installed a new offense; this year we are putting in a new defense. We are going to get after teams a little bit.”

While Lucas doesn’t have to replace a large number of players lost through graduation, he did lose some quality talent.

Dakota Phillips was a four-year starter at quarterback, and a very productive one. He completed 59-of-154 passes for 1,105 yards and 14 TDs as a senior.

Also gone are talented lineman Spencer Jarrett, a dominating four-year starter. Wyatt Brown was a quality fullback. Also gone are James Schnegg, Steven Yingling, Kollin Ludwig and Jacob Nalley.

While the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with athletics since March, Lucas feels his Blue Devil program made the most of the situation.

“The virus was a new challenge to deal with,” he said. “But in our field house we have a lot of room and being a small school we were able to get a lot done.”

Phillips’ departure obviously creates a major void at quarterback. However, a transfer from Shaker Heights has the makings of a quality replacement.

Kyon Falkenstein has relocated from Northern Ohio, where he was a gifted rugby player. His late uncle, Kyle, was a former standout athlete at Beallsville.

Falkenstein (6-5,190) is a senior.

“Kyon is talented with good size. He is tough and a good leader. We like what he brings to the table,” Lucas said.

His backup comes in the form of electric junior Bradley Louden ( 6-2, 180). He is also a big-play wideout for the Blue Devils. He landed 30 passes for 604 yards and 8 TDs last fall, finishing amongst the top pass catchers in the Ohio Valley.

Junior Bradley Moates (5-10, 155) will be the regular at running back. Lucas describes Moates as “a very hard runner.”

Elusive Wyatt Moore (5-11, 155) is a talented senior tailback with big-play capabilities.

“Wyatt is a a real good one. We are expecting big things from him this season,” Lucas offered.

Freshman Garrett Perkins (6-1, 180)) is the backup for Moore and possesses fine potential.

Adam Gouveia (5-10, 155) is another promising running back prospect. He is a freshman.

“We are planning to run the ball and be physical,” Lucas said. “Our offensive line is one of our strengths.”

Sophomore Nathan Pletcher (5-10, 150) will start at one guard while classmate Gage Perkins (5-11, 250) packs nice size at the other guard slot.

Junior Dyson Duvall (5-9, 200) returns at center and is “a good one,” according to Lucas.

The starting tackles will be senior Garrett Schafer (6-2, 270) and sophomore Brandon Comstock (5-11,220).

Senior veteran Keith Steck (5-10, 235) is staging a spirited battle for a starting spot.

Garrett Perkins, while slotted in for some running back duty, will start at tight end.

Louden headlines the receiving corp, which will also feature Gouveia. Senior Jacob Stephen (5-9, 150) is a sure-handed terminal while freshman Matthew Stonebreaker (5-9, 150) will also see receiving time as will classmate Ethyn Baker (6-2, 145).

A deep freshmen class is buttressed by skill performers Reed Smith (5-7, 130), Chandler Osborne (5-8, 120), Brady Moates (5-9, 140) and James Palmer (5-6, 140).

Former Blue Devil head grid coach Paul Kanzigg is now the Blue Devils’ defensive coordinator. He plans to employ an aggressive 5-3 look.

Duvall and Garrett Perkins will handle the end flanks. Comstock and Schafer should provide solid play at tackle while Gage Perkins mans the all-important nose guard post.

Moore will be a force at middle linebacker.

Bradley Moats and Gouveia will be the outside ‘backers.

Falkenstein and Louden will be quality cornerbacks while Stephen looks to roam the deep zone at safety.

Pletcher will do the placekicking and Falkenstein is penciled in as the punter.

Lucas’s staff, in addition to Kanzigg, features Josh Pittman Dave Wiles and Tim Trip.

“We are excited about the season. Our big key, like most schools, is to stay healthy. We cannot afford to lose anyone,” Lucas noted. “But we are expecting to win this season.”

On Aug. 7, the OHSAA voted to shorten the regular season to six games with all teams qualifying for the post-season. The Blue Devils are slated to kick off the season Friday, hosting Hemlock Miller.

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