Meadowbrook not shying away from expectations
By SETH STASKEY
Times Leader Sports Editor
BYESVILLE — As it pertains to what he thinks about his 2018 Meadowbrook Colts, head coach Jeff Twiddy isn’t bashful.
“From day one (when I was hired), the expectation has been to win a state championship and I don’t want to sound cocky or arrogant, but the expectation of this team (in 2018) is to win a state title … 100 percent,” Twiddy said.
To many, especially from a program that’s never won a playoff game and qualified for the postseason only three times, including 2015 and 2017, that may sound like a pipedream. But, when you take a step back and really look at Meadowbrook, a really strong season could be on the horizon.
“We’ve made it very clear (to our players) that the expectation is to get it done,” Twiddy said. “They own it. They’ve put in the work, we believe we have the talent and we do not lack the toughness.”
The Colts return a boatload of talent on both sides of the ball and they’ve dropped down to Division V for the first time in school history.
“We’re four years into this program, our weightroom, the offensive and defensive schemes have been in place and we’ve had basically the same coaching staff,” Twiddy pointed out. “Our numbers are up, a lot of our seniors have played quality snaps since they were freshmen. We’ve raised the bar and demanded a lot of these kids and it’s time for that to start paying dividends.”
While a lot of coaches may have the long-range goal of a state championship, Twiddy and his staff have been open with their players about it.
“The kids are handling the increased expectations and maybe the bullseye on their backs well,” Twiddy said.
“We’ve tried to teach the kids to be leaders. Kids are kids, though. You can put the bar as high in the air as you want it and they’ll still try to jump up and touch it. They’ve done what we’ve asked of them during the offseason, throughout the summer and in camp.”
The Colts roster is basically the same as last season when they finished 8-3, losing, 55-20, to Indian Valley in the opening round of the Division IV tournament. The graduation casulaties did include both Bobby Feyko and Easton Black, who both played in the OVAC All-Star Game last month. Others to receive their diplomas were Kyle Blair, Elijah Martin, Wade Colvin and Bryson Eubanks.
Meadowbrook’s offense will once again run through quarterback Davis Black, who is coming off a season in which he threw for 2,371 yards and 29 touchdowns. He’s drawing interest of numerous Division I, FBS schools, but according to Twiddy has yet to land a formal offer.
“He’s been everywhere visiting,” Twiddy said. “I’ve coached a lot of good quarterbacks and every one I’ve coached has gone on to play college football. He’s an extremely elite kid who has the tools you can’t teach. He’s smart, loves the process of football and plays with enthusiasm.”
Junior Timmy Ferguson had a brilliant season last year, almost single handedly beating Shadyside in a game in Byesville.
He will be the primary ball carrier.
When Davis goes to the air, Boston Black and Addy Black, who stands 6-5, will be the primary targets. Senior Devon Norman is another who can provide depth there.
The skill players should have time to throw and room to run thanks to a talented and veteran offensive line, which includes Wyatt Rossiter at left tackle. Senior Carl Moore will anchor the line at center, senior Tyrek Mitchell is penciled in at right guard. Senior Josh Tomplait, who weighs 293 pounds, is at left guard.
“Those guys are athletic and quick,” Twiddy said.
There’s no doubt that the Colts are going to score points in bunches. After all, they averaged 37.6 a game last season. However, will they be able to get stops on the defensive side? Because, Meadowbrook — even in several of its eight wins — was gashed defensively at times.
It surrenered 23 points a game.
“The main thing about our defense is we’ve gotten a year older,” Twiddy said. “We still had some babies out there last year and most our team was underclassmen. The weight they’ve gained and the physicality they have should definitely help this year.”
Up front, Moore and Norman return at the defensive end spots, while Rossiter and Mitchell are at the defensive tackles. Senior Brady Blattner returns to lead the linebacking group after earning all-Ohio accolades last season. Brady Hlad is back at another linebacker.
In the secondary, Boston Black roams at free safety, while Addy Black and Ferguson are the corners.
“Though our numbers are up, like most small schools, depth is a concern,” Twiddy said. “If we’re able to stay healthy, the sky is the limit.”
Along with just the sheer difficulty of being the last team standing at Canton’s Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in late November, the Colts’ quest for the brass ring will certainly be earned during the regular season against a “meat grinder” of a schedule.
Perennial Ohio power Mogadore along with talented Linsly have been added to the slate, replacing River and Louisville Aquinas.
All told, Meadowbrook will line up against four 2017 playoff entrants in the opening half of the season.
It will once again close with arch rival Cambridge in Week 10.
Twiddy’s coaching staff includes former Beallsville High standout Taryn Jarrett.