CORTLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – In early January, Lakeview hired their former offensive line coach Derrick Bush as the program’s next leader.

“As an assistant, it can become easy to sit in your silo, coach up your positional group and go about your role on the team. Now being a first-year head coach, my biggest focus is laying the foundation on what I believe makes a successful team and program,” Bush said. “Throughout the summer, my focus will be finding out who the leaders of the team are, who’s willing to prepare mentally and physically, and who’s going to execute their job play-after-play in all three phases of the game.”

The Bulldogs return 14 letter winners from last year’s team.

Senior Samuel Gillis will take on the reigns as Bush’s signal caller.

“He’s been fully dedicated this off-season and we feel good about his ability to lead, learn and play hard,” Bush said.

Lakeview welcomes back exceptional depth at the running back spots with Nolan Toth (277 rushing yards) and Hayden Bartram (275 rushing yards). They’ll also have transfers back into the district in Thomas Easton and Oniah Russo.

Bush points out, “We’re looking to create competition at running back to bring the most out of our stable.”

Sam Harper (6 catches), Andrew Brown, Leo Parise, Isaiah Warner, Jason Campana, Jadon Warner and Caleb Hnat could all see time in the receiver slot. Senior tight ends Jake Nicholas, Kyle Somich and Aiden O’Rourke are also back in the fold this summer.

The offensive unit will rely on the play of seniors Sam Balest and Tyler Hovance in addition to sophomore Gunner Derr along the front line.

“The offense has struggled for us these last few years,” Bush said. “We have to find a way to put points on the board, plain and simple. With simplicity and better preparation, we’ll get our best players in a position to make positive plays.”

Just last year, the Bulldogs’ defense saw an improvement from the previous year in points allowed (2021: 36.7; 2022: 25.9) and total yards permitted (2021: 349; 2022: 283.9) per game.

Toth (46 tackles) and Nicholas (50 tackles) will be key contributors on the defensive side as well this season.

“Both have started the last two years and we need their leadership and knowledge to keep improving,” Bush said. “As a unit, we need to get all eleven hats to the football every play. We’ll be leaning on our experience to continue growing and bring more toughness to our team. Continue to focus on the fundamentals and finish the job every second of the game.”

The Bulldogs begin the 2023 season with a matchup with LaBrae on Friday, August 18.

Lakeview Bulldogs
Fast Facts
Head Coach: Derrick Bush, 1st season
2022 Record: 3-7 (1-6), 7th place in Northeast 8
Last 5 Years: 10-38 (20.8%)
Home Field: Don Richards Stadium
League: Northeast 8 Conference
Base Offense: 11 Personnel
Base Defense: 3-4

2022 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 9.9
Scoring Defense: 25.9
Total Offense: 146.9
Rushing Offense: 100.1
Passing Offense: 46.8
Total Defense: 283.9

2022 Individual Leaders
Passing: Damien Natali – 412 yards, 35.3% (30-85), 4 TDs
Rushing: Damien Natali – 364 yards, 3.9 avg, 4 TDs
Receiving: Andrew McRoberts – 175 yards, 21.9 avg, 2 TDs
Tackles: Hayden Newton – 60
QB Sacks: Seth Shipman – 5.0
Interceptions: Andrew Brown – 3

2022 Results
Jefferson 27 Bulldogs 7
South Range 66 Bulldogs 6
Poland 9 Bulldogs 0
Hubbard 22 Bulldogs 0
Struthers 41 Bulldogs 3
Girard 49 Bulldogs 0
Bulldogs 21 Niles 13
Bulldogs 21 Liberty 8
Garfield 17 Bulldogs 7
Bulldogs 34 LaBrae 7

2022 Northeast 8 Standings
South Range – 7-0 (16-0)
Struthers – 5-2 (7-5)
Girard – 4-3 (8-4)
Jefferson – 4-3 (11-4)
Poland – 4-3 (5-6)
Hubbard – 3-4 (6-5)
Lakeview – 1-6 (3-7)
Niles – 0-7 (2-8)

2023 Schedule
Aug. 18 – at LaBrae
Aug. 25 – at Jefferson
Sept. 1 – Liberty
Sept. 8 – South Range
Sept. 15 – Niles
Sept. 22 – at Girard
Sept. 29 – Struthers
Oct. 6 – Hubbard
Oct. 13 – at Poland
Oct. 20 – at Beaver Local