Vikings return 4 starters up front on offense
LEAVITTSBURG, Ohio (WKBN) – The Vikings have won more games within the last four years (32) than they had within a four-year period ever. During the first 36 years of the OHSAA playoffs (1972-2007), LaBrae participated just once (1983). Over the last 11 years (2008-2018), the Vikings have advanced to week eleven 5 times. This year, LaBrae must replace a slew of accomplished and talented seniors. “We’ve been able to graduate a lot of talent,” states coach Armeni. “At the same time, keep our production going the following year. We plan on continuing this trend in 2019. We have a lot of talented and athletic skill players. We’re excited to see what this new group can accomplish.”
Head Coach: John Armeni, 7th season (43-23)
2018 record (AAC Blue): 10-2 (5-1), 2nd place
Five Key Points
1.Under coach Armeni, the offense has averaged 26-points or more in each of the last 5 years.
2.Since 2012, Vikings have had 9 different receivers who caught 20-passes or more in a single season.
3.Back in 2013 when John Armeni was hired as head coach – LaBrae only had 5 of their previous 17 years as winning seasons. Now, they’ve accomplished 4 within 6 years.
4.This is the final season of LaBrae competing in the AAC. They’re shooting for their 3rd league championship (2008, 2016)
5.LaBrae has won 6 straight season openers
Returning Starters: 5
Scoring Offense: 45.9 (2nd in Area)
Rushing Offense: 260.5
Passing Offense: 198.4
Total Offense: 458.9
…LaBrae was held below 40-points just once during the regular season, posting 50-plus points 5 separate times. The Vikings saw an increase in scoring average by nearly 16 points (30.2 to 45.9) and in total offensive numbers by more than 133 yards (325.4 to 458.9) within one year (2017-2018). The loss of 2-year starting signal caller (Kent Wolford), top 2 ball carriers (Colton Stoneman & Walt Allie) along with their top 2 receivers (Benton Tennant & Tyler Stephens) will be difficult to replace. Wolford threw for over 3,600 yards over the course of the last two campaigns (3643). Stoneman ran for over 550 yards in each of the last 3 years. Allie caught 23 passes for over 550 yards in both 2017 and 2018. He also gained an average of 13.7 yards (54 attempts, 738 yards) on the ground last fall. Tennant hauled in a team-best 42 receptions for 836 yards (7 TDs). Tyler Stephens caught 28 passes for 542 yards in 2018.
Senior Dom Harris filled in for Wolford nicely a year ago as he connected on 61.5% of his 52 passes (32-52) for 548 yards and 6 scores. “Dom started a few games last year and was able to gather some valuable game experience in the playoffs,” Armeni points out. “He’s a dual threat quarterback who has gotten bigger, stronger and faster this offseason. We’re counting on him to do a lot of damage with his feet and his arm this fall which hopefully will drive defenses crazy.” Sophomore Devin Carter ran for 478 yards on 57 carries (8.4 avg) as a freshman. Coach Armeni talks about his dazzling sophomore runner, “We believe he has the ability to be a nightmare for defenses this fall.” Also look for Tre’von Drake, Aidan Stephens, Nate Ostas and Justin Rutherford to be in the mix to produce for LaBrae this upcoming season as well.
Senior linemen Zion Flanigan and Konner Johnston were named to the All-League First-Team a year ago as juniors. The Vikings return four of five starters up front.
Returning Starters: 6
Scoring Defense: 14.5 (9th in Area)
Total Defense: 241.4
…The defense will have a different look this year without such standouts as Walt Allie (5 TFL), Tyler Stephens (55 tackles, 16 TFL), Riley McCleary and Benton Tennant. However, the group returns senior defensive back Dom Harris and linebackers Anthony Harris (66 tackles), Max Cope and Shaun Miller to pull things together. Despite the 56-points scored by Manchester in the finale last fall, LaBrae held 9 of their 12 opponents to 14-points or less.
“We need to continue to focus on stopping the run,” indicates Armeni. “Anthony (Harris) will man the middle of our defense. We’re counting on him to be a tackle machine. Our strength should be our athleticism and experience in the secondary where we return three starters.”
Aug. 30 – at Beaver Local
Sept. 6 – at Garrettsville Garfield
Sept. 13 – Norton
Sept. 20 – at Campbell Memorial
Sept. 27 – at Champion
Oct. 4 – Liberty
Oct. 11 – Newton Falls
Oct. 18 – at Brookfield
Oct. 25 – Lucas
Nov. 1 – at Crestview