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Brooke looks for continued progress

WELLSBURG — It’s always a positive when a coach knows a majority of his team is coming back from the previous season. That is the case for Brooke. After finishing 3-7 in 2019, the Bruins will bring back 18 of their 22 starters from last year’s squad.

“Last season, we probably left a couple of W’s out there that we could have had. We won two of three down the stretch. We have 18 of 22 starting positions coming back and logically, that should pay dividends this coming fall,” Brooke coach Mac McLean said. “That’s really what we’re hoping. A lot of these 12th graders have been starting since they were ninth graders. They’ve taken their lumps. They’ve grown up and they’re ready to win some football games.”

Like with a plethora of schools, Brooke also was prepping for the upcoming season, but had to shut it down due to COVID-19.

“During our three week summer camp, we got a week in and then we got shut down for two weeks, which you can’t gripe about it. It’s been happening to people and it’s going to happen again over the next couple of weeks. The challenge has been on and then off then on and off,” McLean said. “Every time your phone beeps, you think, ‘Is this when I’m going to get the text.’ Like I told the kids, I don’t know if we’re going to play football, but we’re going to prepare every day like we’re going to play football because that’s the only option we have right now.

“The kids are positive; I mean they’re nervous. Everybody is nervous. I think from a head coaching job point and an administrative point, we just want some answers. For the last four months, I’ve been putting my shoulders in my ears and said, ‘I don’t know so many times’ and makes you feel like people lose faith in you. I can’t give anybody and answer and I’m not alone in that. I know there’s a bunch of other coaches around here hoping their phone doesn’t buzz.”

West Virginia will start a week later than it’s normal kickoff week, but if the Mountain State does have a season on the gridiron, the Bruins will see senior Josh Shorts under center.

“He hadn’t played since the city league last year,” McLean said. “He threw some pretty big numbers, we just have to get that interception number down. Like a lot of young quarterbacks do, he had some pretty some four or five pick nights. But he matured as the season went along and has a strong arm. I think he became a better runner. I expect big things out of Josh Shorts.

Seniors Drake Hukill and Dougie Gabbert will take the running back role. “Those are guys who have lettered since they were freshmen,” McLean said. “Dougie and Drake did a great job of coming off the bench to support Max Camilletti last year. I think both of them are just 17, 18 young men are ready to play their senior year and step up. I expect them to be pretty good.”

Another senior, Joey Fuscardo will be the most experienced receiver for the Bruins while classmate Aaron Scipio will give them a 1-2 punch on the outside.

Junior Nick Costlow is the next most experience receiver for the Bruins.

Coming back to the Bruins offensive line is senior Samuel Casto, who McLean said is the biggest and most mature OL player he has.

Junior Jake Donley will also be on the offensive line that McLean has high expectations for.

On the defensive line, Kurtis Leonard used quarantine to his advantage and put on 20 pounds of muscle.

Shorts could also see some time at linebacker along with Gabbert and junior Luke Secrist.

The secondary will be the area where the most holes will need to be filled for the Bruins. Seniors Aaron Scipio and John George along with sophomores Michael Perrone and Logan Gashler will play the roles.

The Bruins will open with Hedgesville on Sept. 4.

“My expectations of this year is we’re not going to get big-eyed,” McLean said.

“We’re going to send 18 kids out there that aren’t going to get distracted. They’ve been out there since they were in ninth grade.”

They know what it’s like and I tell the younger kids to watch how hard the older kids work because they’ve been out there.”

Quinlin Blair, Seth Coburn, Chris Gaston, Stephen Hunter, Jackson Julio, Isaac Lippolli, Brody McCombs, Jacob Ravoex, Jacob Smith and Drew Stewart round out the senior class while the juniors include Jacob Baustert, John Casinelli, Cyrus Harris, Stephan Harris, Ethan Marker, Daniel Rawson, Luke Secrist and Dustin Zeigler.

The other sophomores are Dylan Debnar, Xander Eltringham, Lester Gajtka, Will Garvey, Logan Gashler, Tanner Griffith, Evan Keener, Nikolas Kimball, Bailey Serivicz, Blake Shorts and Caden Stevey.

The freshmen class includes Anthony Bachinski, John Bariska, Bryce Bateman, Jace Campinelli, Joey Clem, Blake Cole, Isaiah Dean, Chase Feluzios, Gus Gilbert, Brycen Hawkins, Robert Henderson, Garrett Hornick, Levi Keuthan, Caden Langley, Gavin Moore, Harley Morris, Tyler Morris, Hunter Mozingo, Cole Palmer, Mason Rees, Braelyn Sperringer, Blake Turner and Tyler Wise.

“Are we going to have a state championship banner here? Odds are that’s not going to happen, but do we have a team where they start playing bonus football at the end of the year? I think we can do that if things go right,” McLean said. “Odds are we are standing in a position where depth hurts us. If we lose four or five of the guys I’ve mentioned, it hurts. But there’s a lot of coaches that have to deal with that.”

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