BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – After two straight playoff appearances, the Spartans took a step back as they failed to register a winning season for the first time since 2016 (4-6). Coach Ignazio begins his 8th season at the helm this fall.
Unlike other off-seasons, this one has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re encouraging our players to think outside the box,” Ignazio points out. “You definitely will find out in times like this who has bought into your program. We always had our workouts on Google classroom for athletes competing in other sports. So, we’ve utilized that. We have done different weekly challenges. We’ve always broken our roster down into teams to compete throughout the off-season. We’re doing things related to leadership.”
We have always had our workouts on Google Classroom for athletes competing in other sports. So, we have utilized that. We have done different weekly challenges. We have always broken our roster down into teams to compete throughout the off-season. We are doing things related to leadership. But, more than anything encouraging them to think outside the box. You definitely will find out in times like this who has bought into your program. We have done Zoom meeting workouts.
2019 Record: 3-7
Head Coach: Joe Ignazio, 8th season (28-45)
Scoring Offense: 23.0 (32nd in Area)
Scoring Defense: 30.6 (47th in Area)
Total Offense: 265.1
Rushing Offense: 117.0
Passing Offense: 148.1
What you need to know about Boardman’s offense
-The offense saw a decline in total yards in 2019, dropping by 39 yards per game. Boardman must replace their starting quarterback (Zach Ryan) and an All-League lineman (David Merdich) in 2020. Ryan completed 47.9% of his tosses (93-194) for 1261 yards and 17 scores.
Boardman does return their leading rusher (Sean O’Horo) and their top two pass catchers (Terence Thomas, Cam Thompson) from a year ago. As a sophomore, O’Horo ran for 825 yards on 190 carries (4.3 avg) and 5 scores. The last time an underclassmen led the Spartans in rushing was in 2014 (Mario Graziani, 843). Thomas hauled in 43 passes for 554 yards and 4 touchdowns. It’s been a while since a Spartan caught 40 or more passes in a season. You have to go back to 2010 when junior Dayne Hammond caught 53. Thompson also had a big year with 26 receptions for 269 yards and 7 scores. “We need to continue to build on our strong run game,” says Ignazio. “We have the receivers that are difference makers. Our quarterback (Jason Triveri) needs to take the job and lead the team.”
What you need to know about Boardman’s defense
-The Spartan defense saw the biggest increase of points scored per game since 2012. In 2018, Boardman allowed just an average of 15.8 points to be scored per contest. Last year, they allowed 30.6 – an increase of 14.8 points. In 2011, Boardman permitted 17.4 points. In 2012, they allowed 34.8 (17.4 increase).
“We weren’t very good on this side of the ball,” Ignazio states. “We played a ton of kids. We need to be way more consistent. We didn’t play Boardman defense. We need to find kids who know what they’re doing, be physical and fly to the ball. At times, it felt like a revolving door at several positions. But, that brings experience. Now, we’ll see who wants to win a job.”
Sparty will have to replace their top 5 tacklers (Connor Miller, Tyler Peterson, Zach Johnson, Rashie Garner, Justin Wagner). Those 5 defenders accumulated 346 tackles last year. Luke Huzicka (53 tackles), a senior linebacker as well as junior defensive back Anthony Hightower (2 INTs) will be looked upon to lead the defensive unit this coming season. Up front, Nick Winsen, Jake Powell and Cortland Love all return. At linebacker, Ritchy Evans and Blaine Strines will join Huzicka.
Boardman’s Key Player(s)
-Anthony Micco, Joe Ferra and Ryan Henry will be asked to anchor the offensive line and protect their first-year QB Jason Triveri.
Aug. 28 – at McDowell
Sept. 4 – Poland
Sept. 11 – Jackson
Sept. 18 – at Howland
Sept. 25 – at Mooney
Oct. 2 – Cleveland Heights
Oct. 9 – Harding
Oct. 16 – Ursuline
Oct. 23 – at Fitch
Oct. 30 – at Canfield
The Big game on the schedule
September 4 – vs. Poland
-You could point to a ton of games as the ‘big one’ for Boardman. The Spartans need to get off to a good start this season to wipe away the thoughts of last year’s 3-win campaign. It starts with their home opener against Poland. Last year, Boardman topped Poland – 27-14.
Since 2010, Boardman’s 1,000-yard passers
2019 – Zach Ryan, 1261
2018 – Mike O’Horo, 1316
2017 – Mike O’Horo, 1233
2011 – Ryan Pollifrone, 1352
2010 – Ryan Pollifrone, 1090