COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – The Clippers haven’t suffered through three straight losing campaigns under coach Bob Spaite since he took over in 1994. This group will attempt to avoid that from happening this fall.

The offense must replace their starting quarterback and leading rusher in Tony Kocanjar (314 passing yards; 287 rushing yards) as well as their top pass catcher in Eddie Clancy (8 catches, 163 yards).

Spaite indicates, “Most positions along our [offensive] line returns. We [welcome back] our fullbacks and we have a much stronger team. Questions [abound] regarding our offensive skill positions.”

However, the cupboard isn’t bare. Quarterback Joe Guido transfers over from Leetonia. Landon Lippley begins his first summer with the Clippers after playing for Crestview last fall. The team also has a pair of sophomores Liam Surgenavic (116 rushing yards) and Spencer Pruitt to go along with their returning fullbacks Kian Hartley (91 rushing yards, 2 TDs) and Jesse Szmara.

Junior Bransen Graham will anchor the offensive line from his center position after being recognized by the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference a year ago. He’ll be joined by senior guard Luke Booth and junior tackles Trevor Dragon and Bryce Ebben.

“Our strength on defense,” points out Spaite. “We have a front seven of veterans. They’re much stronger and have a better knowledge of the system.”

The defensive unit welcomes back their top tacklers in linebackers Kian Hartley (47 tackles) and Cameron Clancy (29 tackles) who should be a solid foundation in their efforts to get the Clippers back on track.

Up front, Columbiana will be led by Bransen Graham, Luke Booth, Jesse Szmara (20 tackles) and Tyler Witherstine to go with senior Landon Lipply (24 tackles with Crestview).

In the secondary, the Clippers will have a grouping that features the likes of Liam Surgenavic, Nick Gallo, Caleb Buccheight and Joe Guido.

Coach Spaite is one-win shy of reaching 200-wins for his career as a head coach (199-141-4). Columbiana will make their season debut on the road at Lowellville on Friday, August 19.

Columbiana Clippers
Fast Facts
Head Coach: Bob Spaite, 29th season at Columbiana (186-108)
2021 Record: 3-6 (2-4), 5th place in EOAC
Last 5 Years: 27-22 (55.1%)
Home Field: Firestone Park Football Field
League: Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference
Base Offense: Spread Gun Triple
Base Defense: 50

Returning Starters
Offense: 6
Defense: 6

2021 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 19.5 (44th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 31.1 (46th in Area)
Total Offense: 299.0
Rushing Offense: 219.3
Passing Offense: 79.8

2021 Individual Leaders
Passing: Tony Kacanjar – 314 yards, 43.8% (21-48), 2 TDs
Rushing: Tony Kacanjar – 287 yards, 5.9 avg, 2 TDs
Receiving: Ed Clancy – 163 yards, 20.4 avg, TD
Tackles: Kian Hartley – 47
Quarterback Sacks: Jesse Szmara, Ethan Clark & Mike Seeger – 2

2021 Results
Clippers 35 East Palestine 14
Clippers 21 Lisbon 6
Valley Christian 35 Clippers 20
United 33 Clippers 12
Southern 48 Clippers 12
Wellsville 47 Clippers 18
Wellington 37 Clippers 3
Clippers 36 McDonald 20
Lowellville 50 Clippers 27

2021 EOAC Standings
United – 6-0 (8-2)
Southern – 6-1 (8-3)
Valley Christian – 5-1 (7-3)
Wellsville – 4-3 (4-4)
Columbiana – 2-4 (3-6)
Lisbon – 2-5 (2-7)
Leetonia – 1-5 (2-5)
East Palestine – 0-7 (0-10)

2022 Schedule
Aug. 19 – at Lowellville
Aug. 26 – McDonald
Sept. 2 – Conneaut
Sept. 9 – at Wellsville
Sept. 16 – at Southern
Sept. 23 – at United
Sept. 30 – Valley Christian
Oct. 7 – East Palestine
Oct. 14 – at Leetonia
Oct. 21 – Lisbon