Linsly set to face daunting schedule
WHEELING — Linsly is no stranger to tackling demanding football schedules over the years. The Cadets’ 2019 slate, however, is one of the most challenging yet.
Coach B.J. Depew’s charges are coming off a 6-4 campaign and two years removed from a 9-2 OVAC 2A championship season. Despite losing a strong senior class, the Cadets have a quality group returning and primed to continue the success it has enjoyed during Depew’s 13 years at the Black & Orange helm.
A 47-member squad that boasts 21 returning lettermen will be challenged by a daunting schedule that features West Virginia Class AA power Point Pleasant, two-time reigning state Class A champion Wheeling Central, OHSAA playoff participant Martins Ferry, Class AAA playoff entry Morgantown and capped with a trip to four-time state champion Steubenville Big Red in Week 10.
Taxing to say the least.
To his credit, Depew is embracing the tall task at hand.
“Our kids are used to playing a demanding schedule. They come to expect it and look forward to the game-to-game preparation for a quality opponent,” he said. “We feel playing such competition brings out the best in us. We take pride in our schedule.
“Our numbers are good this season, and even though we lost a very good senior class, we have a lot of veteran players returning,” he continued. “The big thing is replacing the great leadership that Eli (Petho), Jules (Giovengo), Steve Snyder and some others provided. They were excellent players but also excellent leaders. We need some people to step up and do the same this season.”
Linsly will be looking to retool its offense somewhat with the loss of a trio of key performers.
In addition to losing Petho, who led the team in rushing the last two campaigns, as well as the big-play specialist Giovengo, the Cadets lost veteran starting quarterback Wyatt Hirt. The latter two played in last month’s OVAC Rudy Mumley Football Classic.
Stepping into the starting quarterback role will be athletic Hunter Kelley (6-4, 175). The talented junior comes well prepared to take the Cadets’ offensive reins as he saw time last year as Hirt’s backup. Kelley, who is also a standout in hoops and baseball for the Cadets, has sparkled as a starting safety the past two seasons.
“Hunter is an outstanding athlete. He has great upside at quarterback. We have a lot of confidence in him,” Depew said.
Kelley will be backed up by juniors Jack Weir (5-11, 145), Bruno Leal (5-11, 170), Gabriel Werlang (6-0, 160) and sophomore Collin Paull (5-10, 160).
Kelley will have a deep and talented wide receiving contingent, topped by speedy Trevin Tush (5-8, 165). The three-year lettermen is the Cadets’ home-run threat as he is blessed with superb speed to go with sure hands. Tush can also be utilized at tailback as he was in last year’s season final against Kiski. In muddy conditions, he rushed for nearly 200 yards and two TDs in a Cadet victory.
Classmate Joe Zaccirey (6-3, 190) will start opposite Tush. He boasts ideal wideout size and is a major presence in the red zone. Like Tush, he is a three-year letterman.
Kobe Hill (5-9, 150) will also see regular duty at wide receiver. He is a two-year letterwinner.
Glue-fingered Lee Paull (5-10, 140) will also see quality pass-catching time, enabling the Linsly offense to open up with a four wideout look. He is a two-year letterman.
“I really like our wide receivers. We have some exceptional talent there as well as great depth,” Depew said.
Dylan Ruvebana (6-1, 190) is another senior wideout while junior wideout candidates are letterman Spencer Knight (5-8, 155), Gunnar Kernik (5-8, 160), Nico Hoellwarth (6-1, 180), Charles Austin (5-9, 140) and Dylan Hill (5-10, 150.).
Sophomore receivers include Felix Reitter (5-11, 155) and Henri Suikki (5-6, 160). Nathan Coleman (6-0, 150), Luca DiLorenzom (5-5, 135) and Kaden Hiryok (5-4, 110) are freshmen receivers.
Linsly is sitting well at tight end where two seasoned veterans hold forth.
Seniors Lee Cartwright (6-0, 170) and Paul Cook (5-10, 165) will both see ample time. Cartright is a three-year letterman while Cook has two letters to his credit.
Additional depth is provided by senior letterman Fabian Egger (6-4, 190). The tight end of the future is rising sophomore Brodie Selmon (5-8, 150).
A couple of battle-tested ball-totting tailbacks will look to void the void created by Petho’s departure.
Speedy Carl Nyh (5-10, 195) and Logan Gill (5-5, 140) will share time at tailback. Both are two-year letter-wnning seniors. Junior Zachai Simmons (5-8, 160) is next in line. He is a two-year letterman as well.
Sophomore running aspirants include Marc Kaufmann (5-5, 155), Alco Smith (5-11, 205) and Adam Och (5-10, 170).
Solid junior Steven Felton (6-0, 200) will be the Cadets’ fullback. He is a two-year letterman. Junior Jake Stern (5-11, 170) will be his understudy.
Linsly has been blessed with physical, effective and nice-sized offensive line the past few seasons. Nothing will change this fall as three talented performers return up front.
Nils Braun (6-7, 330), Chance Knight (6-3, 225) and Kevin Espinoza (6-4, 360) are a solid trio returning for one final fall of opening holes and protecting their QB. Knight is a three-year letterman, Braun has two and Espinoza one.
They will be joined on the starting unit by classmate Florian Hirsch (6-4, 255). He earned a letter as a junior.
Senior letterman Dominik Ondra (6-6, 320) is leading the way for landing the final starting O-line berth.
Junior line candidates are lettermen Anthony Andy (5-11, 195), Marco Aprea (5-10, 170), and non letter-winning juniors Justin Jokovich (5-11, 160) and Anthony Defazio (5-8, 195).
Sophomore linemen include: Colton Cybulksi (5-9, 190) and Hayden Bozich (6-4, 225).
The freshman class provides three line hopefuls: Landin Blakely (5-10, 140), Wyatt Haynes (6-1, 200) and Aiden Christ (6-1, 220).
Linsly should be strong up front defensively.
Chance Knight and Hirsch are anchors on the defensive line. Ondra will also see regular duty with quality depth provided by Aprea, Andy, Cybulksi and Bozich. The Cadets will have ample linemen to develop a nice rotation.
The second level of the Linsly defense will see Felton and Nyh manning the two linebacker spots. They will be supported by Cartwright, Och and Stern.
Kelley and Zaccirey are blue-chip defensive backs. Kelley was one of the interception leaders in the Ohio Valley as a frosh.
Tush will be a likely starter in the secondary while the final spot is a battle amongst several aspirants.
In the mix are Spencer Knight, Simmons and DiLorenzo.
Junior Joao Lima (5-9, 175) looks to handle the placekicking and punting chores for the Leatherwood-based crew.
“We had a very up-and-down season last year. We realize we have no weak programs on our schedule this year,” Depew said. “But our kids like to rise to the occasion. The Mogadore game last year is the classic example of that.
“We return some talented skill people and we have some good size on the line again, although depth there is a question,” he continued. “Like most schools in the OVAC, injuries are always a concern. If we can stay healthy, I feel we have the pieces for a successful season.”
Depew put his charges through a pair of quality scrimmages – John Marshall and Weir.
Graduation claimed a deep and talented class. Gone are Thomas Aronokhale, Brad Bin, Divo Cerjan, Bastian Gehrer, Jules Giovengo, Will Harris, Cyrus Hill, Wyatt Hirt, Reese Jacbs, Jesper Korkalainen, Neville Krueger, Eli Petho, Stephen Snyder and Mikal Warfield-Payne.
The Cadets’ schedule has undergone massive change. Gone are Mogadore, Carrick (Pa.), Meadowbrook, Crestview and Beaver.
Linsly opens its campaign Friday night at Pittsburgh Westinghouse, a team that Depew says has much prime-time talent, including a defensive end who has committed to Pitt.
The Cadets travel to Martins Ferry in Week Two before welcoming Wheeling Central for their home opener in week three.
Depew is assisted by a quality staff.
James Wallace is a top-notch defensive coordinator while Chris Kiedaisch is the offensive coordinator. The remainder of the varsity staff includes Brian Valentine, Gee Lofstead, Luke Mueller and former Bishop Donahue head coach John Durdines.
“I am really excited to have John join our staff,” Depew said. “He will be a big help for us and he has a great rapport with players.”
The junior high coaches are Doug Tush, Jay Cartwright, Joe Giovengo and Tim Blue. Tom Giovengo and Chelsea Kelly are the athletic trainers.
Depew has realized much success guiding his alma mater. He enters the season with a sparkling 79-54 record.