EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WKBN) – East Liverpool looks to make some traction toward having a successful season. Within the last 16 years, the Potters have enjoyed just two winning seasons (2010 and 2018).
Last year, East Liverpool came close by dropping a pair of games (against EBC opponents) by a total of 13 points, however, it finished 5-5 for the second consecutive year.
In its five wins, East Liverpool scored an average of 36.6 points per game. In its five losses, the team was only able to produce an average of 12.8 points.
This year, East Liverpool will be without its standout quarterback Howie William, who raced for over 1,000 yards on the ground and threw for over 800.
The season gets underway at home against West Branch on Friday, August 20. The Warriors ended the Potters’ playoff run a year ago (43-13).
2020 Record: 5-5
Coach: Josh Ludwig, 8th season (25-45)
Previewing East Liverpool’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 26.0 (T-32nd in Area)
Total Offense: 295.5
Returning Starters: 6
Key Returnees: Mason Ludwig, JR/OL; Devin Toothman, SR/ATH; Eric Williams, JR/ATH
Key Losses: Howie Williams, QB
Name to watch for: Eric Williams, QB/ATH
Howie Williams has since graduated, leaving behind a senior year which saw him complete 53.4% of his passes (63-118) and throwing for 864 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 1,104 yards while scoring 15 times.
Howie’s younger brother, Eric Williams, enjoyed a strong sophomore campaign. In 2020, Williams hauled in 31 passes for 442 yards and 6 scores. He also carried the ball 50 times for 272 yards (5.4 avg) while scoring twice on the ground. Eric will be in competition with Stephen Dorsey this summer to see who will be the team’s starting quarterback.
“Whoever loses the battle won’t be losing time,” said Ludwig. “They’ll still be starters. Eric has the size advantage, but Stephen has played the position much longer.”
Devin Toothman is back for his senior year. Last fall, Toothman ran for 668 yards and six touchdowns. Through the air, Devin snagged 16 passes for 137 yards (3 TDs).
“Devin was an awesome player last year,” Ludwig said. “We’ll look to find ways to use him more to get him in space so he can use his ability to make plays.”
The Potters have plenty of skill players to compete this summer in camp. Jamar Allen (RB/WB), Dashon Slappy (WR), Chance Stull (WR), D’Shawn Kirby (TE) and Gavin Wright (ATH) should all compete for time on the field this year.
East Liverpool lost four starters along the offensive line from last year’s bunch.
“It’s been rough, but we’re working this off-season to make it all click in the fall,” said Ludwig. “I expect to see Timmy Russell step up, along with Darrick Robinson, Jonathan Pritt and junior Mason Ludwig.”
Mason Ludwig, a 6’6” 270-pound junior, currently has double-digit collegiate offers from the likes of Iowa State and Kentucky. Mason’s been invited to work out this summer at the Notre Dame, Ohio State, West Virginia, Pitt, Stanford, Nebraska, Texas Tech and Michigan, just to name a few.
Previewing East Liverpool’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 21.1 (25th in Area)
Key Returnees: Trent Davis, SO/LB; Devin Toothman, SR/DB; Eric Williams, JR/LB
Key Losses: Landon Bailey, DB; Cameron Bryant, DL; Colin Bryant, DL; Devon Keys, LB; Nikki Mapp, DB; Dalton Owens, DL; Howie Williams, DB; Braidyn Wright, DB
Name to watch for: Devin Toothman, DB
“We have a group of young, hungry players on defense,” said Ludwig. “Eric Williams (81 tackles, 2 INTs) and Devin Toothman (62 tackles) will anchor the defensive unit from their linebacker and safety positions. Sophomore Trent Davis has had an awesome off-season and started the final two games at middle linebacker last year.”
Up front, the Potters will look to get production from Peyton Butler and Jonathan Pritt along the defensive front. While in the secondary, Jamar Allen will be at his safety spot, and Marquis Glenn and Stephen Dorsey will be positioned at the corners.
Stability is what Coach Ludwig points to when talking about the strength on defense.
“I think this current staff’s longevity and sticking to what we do schematically with minor turnover is definitely a key. Our players will know auto checks to formations before the season begins, and that allows us to concentrate more on fundamentals and repetitions. We don’t have much installed because we aren’t changing much from year to year, trying to reinvent the wheel. I think we’ll be athletic in the secondary and have good speed on the front 6-7.”
Aug. 20 – West Branch
Aug. 27 – Indian Creek
Sept. 3 – Salem
Sept. 10 – at Beaver Local
Sept. 17 – at Harrison Central
Sept. 24 – NDCL
Oct. 1 – Edison
Oct. 8 – at Warrensville Heights
Oct. 15 – at Oak Glen (WV)
Oct. 22 – at Weir (WV)