Consistency is the key in Columbiana

Columbiana Clippers High School Football

After suffering through back-to-back losing seasons in 2013 (3-7) and 2014 (4-6), the Clippers have rebounded nicely to post 7 or more wins in each of their past three years including two playoff appearances. Coach Bob Spaite has his program back on solid ground as another post-season trip is within reach this year.

2018 Columbiana Clippers’ Football Preview

Head Coach: Bob Spaite, 30th season overall (173-117-4)

Record: 7-4 (6-1), 2nd place in EOAC

What you need to know about the Columbiana Offense

There’s a lot to be excited about this coming season – junior quarterback Jakob Cross returns after completing 52.7% of his passes (97-184) for 1351 yards a year ago and 15 touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 709 yards on 132 carries (5.4 avg) and4 scores. Junior Chase Franken is also back in the fold after eclipsing 750-yards of total offense last year (486 receiving yards, 280 rushing yards). He led the team in catches (24) and touchdown grabs (9). Joey Bable returns as well after a season which saw the junior score 4 touchdowns offensively (3 rushing, 1 receiving) and compiling 449 yards of total offense (301 rushing, 148 receiving).

Key to the Columbiana Offense

“We’ve got to find some consistency,” says coach Spaite. “We must find our run game in the red zone and our receivers must be able to beat man coverage.”

What you need to know about the Columbiana Defense

Three of the team’s top six tacklers return in Erik Hopenziz, Brandt Virden, and Cody Miller. Hopfenziz accumulated 100 tackles and an interception a year ago. Virden, from his defensive back spot, finished with 72 tackles (3rd best on the team). Defensive lineman Cody Miller had 50 defensive stops as a sophomore. Jakob Cross had a team-high 3 picks also. The Clippers did lose their linebacker Frank Rupert who had collected 208 tackles over the course of the past three years.  

Key to the Columbiana Defense

“Again, we have to be consistent,” indicates Spaite. “We need fewer alignment and assignment busts, we’ve got to increase our percentage of winning third downs and we’ve got to get off the field.”

Offensive player to watch for

Junior/QB, Jakob Cross

…Not an easy assignment to be the replacement of one of the school’s best quarterbacks/playmakers in Mitch Davidson. However, Cross held his own by leading the team in rushing and connecting on 52.7% of his tosses. “It’s always a plus when any offense has it’s QB, stat leader and most visible player returning,” points out Spaite. “He now has a better understanding of our offensive structure, what to look for in opponents defenses. He has set some very high personal and team goals – hopefully he will make those around him also reach their potential.” 

Defensive player to watch for

Senior/LB, Erik Hopfenziz

…Hopfenziz became the 5th player in the past 6 years to amass 100-tackles in a season. “Now that (Erik) fully understands the scheme,” coach Spaite says. ”he needs to bring those around him up. His role will expand this year and should be one of our senior leaders.”

2018 Schedule

Aug. 23 – Western Reserve, 7

Aug. 31 – at McDonald, 7

Sept. 7 – Springfield

Sept. 14 -at Leetonia, 7

Sept. 21 – at United, 7

Sept. 28 – Toronto, 7

Oct. 5 – at Wellsville, 7

Oct. 12 – Lisbon, 7

Oct. 19 – at Southern, 7

Oct. 26 – East Palestine, 7

Key Game

What a way to begin the season with matchups against Reserve, McDonald and Springfield. The opener is always a toughie especially when it’s against Western Reserve. These two teams have been pitted against one another in the lid lifter for five straight years now. Each team coming away with a win twice.

2017 Team Stats

Scoring Offense: 26.7

Total Offense: 306.7

Passing Offense: 122.8

Rushing Offense: 183.9

Scoring Defense: 22.0

2017 Statistical Leaders

Passing: Jakob Cross – 1351 yards, 52.7% (97-184), 15 TDs

Rushing: Jakob Cross – 709 yards, 5.4 avg, 4 TDs

Receiving: Chase Franken – 24 catches, 486 yards, 9 TDs

Tackles: Frank Rupert – 113*

Quarterback Sacks: Frank Rupert – 4*

Interceptions: Jakob Cross – 3


Big 22 Recipients

2016: Mitch Davidson (3)

2015: Mitch Davidson (2)

2014: Mitch Davidson

2011: Austin Barbato

2007: Josh Hertel & Ryan Williams

2006: Joe Winters

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