LEAVITTSBURG, Ohio (WKBN) – In mid-December, after nine seasons, John Armeni stepped down as the head coach of LaBrae’s football program.

He said in a December 14 post on Twitter, “It’s been the greatest honor of my professional life to serve as the head football coach at LaBrae High School. I’m extremely proud of what we have accomplished. I believe the program is in a good place and will be rooting for its continued success.”

In 2021, the Vikings tied the school record for most wins in a single season with 11 (a record they share with the 1983 team).

The program turned to Jon Elliot to become its third head coach in the past 19 years. The longtime assistant served the past two seasons at Warren JFK.

“I’m truly excited and blessed to be here,” said Elliot. “There has been great support from the community, boosters, and especially, the administration and staff.”

Last year’s offense converted 54% of its third-down conversions (48-89) and was able to move the chains on fourth down 48% of the time (10-21). The offense was led by Aidan Stephens (1180 passing yards; 1202 rushing yards, 28 TDs), Devin Carter (1658 rushing yards, 22 TDs) and Tre’Von Drake (408 rushing yards; 451 receiving yards), who have all graduated.

This season, sophomore Trenton Stehura appears to be the frontrunner to take over the keys to the offense as the Vikings’ signal-caller. Juniors Brogan Collins and Jay McGarry will likely split time at running back. Jay’Marion Jethroe, as well as Collin Davis and Clayton Stout will be featured as receivers in LaBrae’s Spread offensive set.

The offensive line will be anchored by their lone returning starter Chase Jakubec, a two-year letter winner. Blake Kahnell and Preston Ostas, two seniors, will take over at each of the tackle spots along the line. Junior Ethan Smith will be slotted in at one of the guard positions. Anthony Christy is working toward the final starting position with Owen Meeks, and Travis Prokop appears to be in line for playing time as LaBrae prepares for camp.

The defense accounted for 26 turnovers as it held the opposition to just 17.4 points per game last fall. The team’s top tackler – senior safety Jay’Marion Jethroe (103 tackles) – will be welcomed back to lead a defense that is only returning three starters.

Co-defensive coordinators Justin Blair and Carlton Brown will have their unit line up in a 4-2 alignment.

“We’ll be led [up front] by senior Aaron Dewberry,” said Elliot. “He’ll be joined by Anthony Christy, Blake Kahnell and Ethan Smith. Look for sophomore Owen Meeks to compete as well. At linebacker, we’ll have a couple of juniors [in] Davin Derry and Gabe Greene. In the secondary, we have returning starters Jay’Marion Jethroe and Collin Davis at the safety spots and Brogan Collins and Jay McGarry at cornerback.”

LaBrae will open up the 2022 season with a trip to Lakeview on Friday, August 19.

LaBrae Vikings
Fast Facts
Head Coach: Jon Elliott, 1st season at LaBrae
2021 Record: 11-2 (6-1), 2nd place in MVAC Grey Tier
Last 5 Years: 35-20 (63.6%)
Home Field: LaBrae Stadium
League: Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference, Grey Tier
Base Offense: Spread
Base Defense: 4-2

Returning Starters
Offense: 2
Defense: 3

2021 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 40.1 (6th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 17.4 (12th in Area)
Total Offense: 368.5
Rushing Offense: 273.8
Passing Offense: 94.7
Total Defense: 276.0

2021 Individual Leaders
Passing: Aidan Stephens – 1180 yards, 62.5% (82-131), 7 TDs
Rushing: Devin Carter – 1658 yards, 9.0 avg, 22 TDs
Receiving: Tre’Von Drake – 451 yards, 12.5 avg, TD
Tackles: Jay’Marion Jethroe – 103
Quarterback Sacks: Stephen Hemberger – 7.5
Interceptions: Tre’Von Drake & Devin Carter – 3

2021 Results
Mogadore 48 Vikings 42 OT*
Vikings 37 Brookfield 14*
Vikings 48 Trinity 8*
Vikings 56 Campbell Memorial 13
Vikings 41 Liberty 34
Vikings 28 Brookfield 0
Vikings 34 Crestview 13
Vikings 38 Newton Falls 0
Vikings 54 Champion 21
Garfield 35 Vikings 14
Vikings 49 Keystone 20
Vikings 41 Valley Christian 21
Vikings 40 Lakeview 0

2021 MVAC Grey Tier Standings
Garfield – 6-0 (12-1)
LaBrae – 6-1 (11-2)
Brookfield – 4-2 (7-4)
Crestview – 4-2 (5-5)
Liberty – 3-3 (5-5)
Champion – 2-5 (2-8)
Newton Falls – 1-6 (3-7)
Campbell – 0-7 (1-9)

2022 Schedule
Aug. 19 – at Lakeview
Aug. 26 – Valley Christian
Sept. 2 – at Niles
Sept. 9 – Garfield
Sept. 16 – Champion
Sept. 23 – at Newton Falls
Sept. 30 – Crestview
Oct. 7 – at Brookfield
Oct. 14 – Liberty
Oct. 21 – at Campbell Memorial