Leek takes over the reins at Cambridge
CAMBRIDGE – Control what we can control.
That’s the attitude of the Cambridge Bobcats as they prepare to embark on the 2020 football season under the guidance of first-year coach Ray Leek.
Leek, a graduate of the University of Mount Union, was head coach at Mapleton High School last year after previously serving as an assistant at Southington Chalker, Marlington, Mogadore Field, East Canton and Waterloo.
He replaces Josh Lowery, who departed after a two-year stint as the Bobcats’ head coach with a 9-11 record. He is now an assistant coach at Thomas Worthington High School under Bridgeport High product Michael Picetti.
“It’s a very exciting opportunity,” said Leek of joining Bobcat Nation. “The community and the administration support have been great and the overall history of Cambridge sports is exciting as well.”
The ongoing restrictions and uncertainty due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are particularly tough on a new coach, but Leek says both he and his players have adjusted well.
“It’s important for me to build a relationship with the kids and that’s been a bit challenging,” he admitted, “but I’m also fortunate that a lot of my assistants have been around them in the past to help us get started.”
A 12-member senior class has also stepped up, according to the coach.
“Our senior class does a good job of making sure the other kids are doing things the right way,” said Leek. “They’re almost like an extension of the coaching staff. It’s their turn, and they’ve taken that responsibility and run with it.
“The kids have bought in to our program and they do what we ask of them,” the CHS coach added. “Our message to our kids is ‘control what you can control’, especially now because you never know what play is going to be your last, especially for the seniors. We tell them to work hard and give everything you have for as long as you can.”
Look for the Bobcats to deploy a diverse offensive attack.
“We’ll be a multi-formation offense and try to be as balanced as we can,” said Leek. “We’ll spread the ball out at times, but we can also line up with three backs and power the ball when we need to…whatever puts our kids into the best situation to be successful.
“Defensively, we’ll run a base 4-5, but we can bounce to other sets depending on who we’re facing,” he continued. “We’ve got a great mix of kids with experience and several young, talented ones in the sophomore and freshman classes, too.”
The ‘Cats enter the season with some uncertainty at quarterback, with senior two-year letterman Kaden Whaley (6-0, 195) and sophomore Caden Moore (5-10, 155) in a preseason duel.?“With scrimmages taken away, both might get reps in Week 1 until we iron things out,” said Coach Leek. “Each one has different strengths, so who’s in there will dictate a lot of what we do.”
Whaley could also see time at running back or receiver where he caught 17 passes for 169 yards and a TD last fall. A third QB is freshman Easton Jones (5-11, 170).
The bulk of the ball-toting duties will go to a pair of two-year lettermen – senior Logan Mobelini (6-0, 185) and junior Kaden Kenworthy (5-10, 175).
Additional running backs are senior two-year letterman Blake Brumfield (5-11, 185; juniors Jakob Capehart (5-11, 170), Zairek Bell (5-9, 165) and Parker Long (5-11, 165); sophomore Conner Mobelini (6-0, 155); and freshman Andrew Waugh (5-7, 130).
The wide receiver group features a handful of possibilities, including freshman Devin Ogle (6-0, 170); sophomores Trey Stottsberry (6-0, 170), Beau Stottsberry (6-0, 170) and Xander Caldwell (6-1, 165); and junior Dalton Moore (5-9, 155).
A solid target at tight end is senior two-year letterman Justin Bartlett (6-0, 200), a first team all-Ohio Division IV selection on defense last year. He landed seven passes for 154 yards and four TDs in 2019.
Senior two-year letterman Roman Jeffrey (6-0, 200) and junior Levin Polasky (6-2, 200) are additional tight ends.
The ‘Cats will have a solid O-line averaging around 240 pounds.
Senior lettermen Brock Valentine (6-4, 285) and Collin Conte (6-5, 290) will open at the tackle spots (Valentine was second team all-East District and honorable mention all-ECOL Gray last year).
The trio of senior two-year letterman Case Wilson (5-11, 200), senior letterman Luke Stillion (5-11, 230) and senior letterman Raekwon Lathan (5-9, 250) will share duty at the guard posts; and center is a battle between sophomore lettermen Andy Ogle (6-0, 210 and Angelo Rocco (5-10, 210).
Defensively, the all-Ohioan Bartlett leads the charge after recording 24 tackles for loss including 8.5 quarterback sacks a year ago. In addition to all-state, he was first team all-East District, all-ECOL Gray and all-OVAC Class 4A.
The other defensive end will be Wilson, with junior Braidyn Jackson (6-1, 185) also seeing action. Lathan and Stillion are among the frontrunners at tackle.
Mobelini and senior two-year letterman Hayden Burris-Jones (6-2, 210) provide a solid linebacking duo. Mobelini was second on the team with 78 total tackles to go with three interceptions last season, earning special mention all-Ohio along with first team all-East District, ECOL and OVAC. Burris-Jones had 57 stops with four sacks.
The leading contenders at cornerback are Roman Jeffrey, Saft, Moore and Beau Stottsberry.
A solid trio of safeties – equally effective against the run and pass – features veterans Whaley, Kenworthy and Logan Mobelini.
Junior two-year letterman Andrew Fillippis (5-9, 135) returns as the kicker, backed by junior Connor Theodosopoulos (5-9, 150) and sophomore Lucas Parsons (5-6, 120).
Leek doubles as the team’s co-offensive coordinator and is joined by several familiar faces including defensive coordinator Tim Wilson, co-offensive coordinator Jake Tharp, Devin Nicholes, JR Fox, Jalil Carter, Bob Mascolino, Tony Jones, Mark Abels and former CHS head coach Kevin Gunn.
This marks Cambridge’s final season in the East Central Ohio League (CHS was a charter member of the league in 1987). The ‘Cats will join the 10-team Buckeye 8 Athletic League.
next year, and will compete in the South Division with Martins Ferry, Bellaire, St. Clairsville and Union Local.