Boardman seeks 3rd straight playoff appearance; must replace a lot

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Coach Ignazio has seen his team make the playoffs in 3 of the past 4 years

Boardman Spartans High School Football

Spartans have 3 returning starters along the defensive side

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Boardman advanced to the post-season, a year ago, for the first time in back-to-back years in school history. This year, coach Joe Ignazio’s bunch is looking for a third consecutive run. In Ignazio’s 6 years at the helm, the Spartans have made the playoffs three times (3 of the last 4 years) but have lost 5 or more games in each season. This year, the team must replace 6 First-Team All-League recipients – not an easy task when you take into account that they’ll have a total number of 7 returning starters (on offense/defense).

Boardman Spartans
Head Coach: Joe Ignazio, 7th season (25-38)
2018 record (AAC Gold): 6-5 (1-2), 3rd place
Five Key Points
1.The defense has held the opposition to an average of 18.6 points per game over their past 55 contests (2014-18).
2.Devin Campbell in 2011) was the last Boardman ball carrier to run for 1,000-yards in a season (1285 yards on 159 carries).
3.Boardman’s last playoff win came in 2007 (def. Euclid, 14-7)
4.Graduated QB Mike O’Horo threw for 3,464 yards and 21 TDs over the last three years. The last time Boardman had a starter in back-to-back seasons before O’Horo was Ryan Pollifrone (2010-11).
5.Spartans are 2-10 in their last 12 matchups versus teams who finished with a winning record (dating back to Sept. 15, 2017).

Offense
Returning Starters: 4
Scoring Offense: 22.4 (29th in Area)
Rushing Offense: 167.4
Passing Offense: 136.3
Total Offense: 303.7
…Not only did the Spartans lose their starting QB (Mike O’Horo) and their top two rushers (Joe Ieraci and Josh Ridriguez) but also 4 of their top 5 pass catchers including Che Trevena – who caught 33 passes for 444 yards and 2 scores. O’Horo, a three-year starter, completed 53.1% of his passes a year ago (101-190) for 1316 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also scored 9 times on the ground while gaining 324 yards. Ieraci led the team in rushing yards with 600, scored 6 touchdowns, and earned First-Team All-AAC. Rodriguez picked up 575 yards by land and scored 6 times.

Jimmy Hoffman has also since graduated after being named All-League Honorable Mention as a lineman. Ignazio points out, “Guys need to step up and replace kids that had been three-year starters. We have a good core of skill guys, but they are young. They are going to have to play.” Wrentie Martin (14 of 21 passing, 183 yards, 2 TDs) and Zach Ryan are set to compete for the starting quarterback position this summer. Nate Thompson (146 yards rushing) and Sean O’Horo will be at running back. Aidan Slocum (8 catches, 99 yards) returns at wideout as the coaching staff expects sophomore Cam Thomson to step into a more prominent role this season. Returning linemen Dave Merdich and Isaac Land also return along with the team’s tight end/H-back Connor Miller (19 catches, 340 yards, 2 TDs).

Defense
Returning Starters: 3
Scoring Defense: 15.8 (14th in Area)
…The defense graduated their top 7 tacklers from last year’s group including All-League performers – Kareem Hamdan (85 tackles, 9 TFL, 4 QB sacks, 2nd all-time tackler in school history), Alex Huzicka (62 tackles, 16 TFL), Tino Arcuri (59 tackles, 6 QB sacks) and Zach Hillard (96 tackles, 3 QB sacks).

“We have shoes to fill on this side of the ball,” says Ignazio. “It’ll be hard to replace guys like (Tino) Arcuri, (Alex) Huzicka, (Zach) Hillard, and (Kareem) Hamdan. We have to find guys. Our returners are the key to our success.” On defense, the Spartans return linebackers Connor Miller (40 tackles, 7 TFL) and Nate Thompson (23 tackles, 6 TFL) as well as defensive back Tyler Peterson (23 tackles, INT). Dave Merdich, Isaac Land and Rashie Garner (11 tackles, 1 QB sack) will be asked to step into a leadership role this fall along the defensive front.

Schedule
Aug. 30 – McDowell
Sept. 6 – at Poland
Sept. 13 – at Jackson
Sept. 20 – Howland
Sept. 27 – Cardinal Mooney
Oct. 4 – at Garfield Heights
Oct. 11 – at Harding
Oct. 18 – at Ursuline
Oct. 25 – Fitch
Nov. 1 – Canfield

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