LEETONIA, Ohio (WKBN) – Coach Paul Hulea and his Bears treated the school and the community to a season they hadn’t seen in over a decade. Leetonia finished 7-2, their best record since 2008 (8-3).
The Bears went through five seasons (2013-17) where they recorded at least seven losses. Leetonia combined to compile a 7-43 during prior to Hulea’s arrival. In his first three seasons at the helm, the Bears have improved each year.
This year will be a challenge without the likes of many seniors who helped lead the team back to prominence – one being Marco Ferry, their record-breaking ball carrier.
Leetonia opens the season slate with a home date against Sebring on Friday, August 20.
2020 Record: Paul Hulea, 4th season (17-12)
Coach: 7-2 (5-1, T-1st place in EOAC)
2020 Big 22: Marco Ferry
Previewing Leetonia’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 30.8 (17th in Area)
Key Returnees: Joe Guido, JR/QB; Jake McCool, SR/WR; Mike Miller, SR/FB; LJ Rosa, JR/OL
Key Losses: Jordan Baker, WR; Brayden Duko, OL; Marco Ferry, RB; Jaedon Finley, WR; Dylan Lennon, QB; Mason Mellinger, OL; Gannon Sheperd, OL
Name to watch for: Joe Guido, QB
The offense will have some big shoes to fill including the loss of standout Marco Ferry to graduation. Last year, he ran for 1,716 yards on 201 carries (8.5 avg). That’s 214.5 yards per game as he scored 22 touchdowns on the ground.
“We’ll find out if there’s life after Marco,” Coach Hulea said. “It’ll be interesting to see who replaces him at running back. Jake McCool, Cody Beck, Hayden Cibula and Mike Miller – who moved from tight end – will be in the running.”
The Bears must also replace their starting quarterback Dylan Lennon and their top receiver Jaedon Finley. Lennon completed 52.8% of his passes for 441 yards and seven touchdowns. Finley averaged 19.6 yards per reception (13 catches, 255 yards) and scored three times.
“Our quarterback is Joe Guido,” Hulea said. “Wide outs, we’ll have Timmy Finch, Noah Riffee and Tatum Finley. Timmy Johnson, Andrew Bulford and Ashbee Merritt will share tight end duties. Up front, LJ Rosa will be our anchor. Kalieb Randolph, Brogan Lease, Andrew Hendricks, Eric Dicross, Alex Cameron, Cliff McFarland and Molly Gibson will compete on both the offensive and defensive lines.”
Previewing Leetonia’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 17.8 (11th in Area)
Key Returnees: Jake McCool, SR/LB; Mike Miller, SR/LB; LJ Rosa, JR/DL
Key Losses: Jordan Baker, DB; Brayden Duko, OL; Dylan Durick, LB; Marco Ferry, LB; Jaedon Finley, DB; Mason Mellinger, DL; Gannon Sheperd, DL
Name to watch for: Mike Miller, LB
Senior linebacker Mike Miller led the team with 97 tackles and five for a loss last year. Miller will be joined by Jake McCool, Timmy Johnson and Hayden Cibula at linebacker. Defensive lineman LJ Rosa is back for his junior season. Cody Beck and Joe Guido will return in the secondary to give the Bears a solid foundation to work with this summer.
Under coach Hulea, defense has always been a staple to their success. He’s seen his defense improve their scoring from a unit in 2018 which allowed 21.6 points to a group that permitted 20 points and 17.8 points over the last two years respectively. An impressive three-year run on the defensive side of the ball.
2020 EOAC Standings
United – 5-1 (7-3)
Leetonia – 5-1 (7-2)
Southern – 5-1 (5-3)
Wellsville – 3-3 (4-6)
Columbiana – 3-3 (4-5)
Valley Christian – 2-4 (2-6)
Lisbon – 1-5 (4-7)
East Palestine – 0-6 (1-9)
Aug. 20 – Sebring
Aug. 27 – at Mathews
Sept. 3 – OPEN
Sept. 10 – East Palestine
Sept. 17 – United
Sept. 24 – Valley Christian
Oct. 1 – at Southern
Oct. 8 – Lisbon
Oct. 15 – at Columbiana
Oct. 22 – at Wellsville