LEETONIA, Ohio (WKBN) – Leetonia enjoyed back-to-back winning seasons (2019: 6-4, 2010: 7-2) before faltering last year in an uneven 2-5 campaign which saw the opener delayed until September 10 (week four) and another game cancelled later in the year due to the pandemic.

In February, the Bears’ program hired coaching veteran John Protopapa. Last year, he was an assistant at East. He’s made stops in three different counties in Ohio, most recently at Mathews in 2020.

“I’ve been impressed by how well our players have picked up on the passing game,” says Protopapa. “The line seems very motivated, and I think will be very solid.”

This summer the Bears – who return sixteen letter winners – will have Carson Brock, Tatum Finley and freshman Ethan Mathia all competing for the starting quarterback position. “Whoever does not win the job,” points out coach Protopapa. “They’ll be talented enough to start at another offensive position.”

Noah Riffee, Hayden Cibula and Andrew Bulford are leading the charge to receive carries out of the backfield as we approach the month of July.

A year ago, the defense saw their scoring numbers increase from a unit which allowed 17.8 points in 2020 up to 27.7 points in 2021.

Protopapa points to the defense as the unit that must show progress. “Looking at last year, that appears to be the area that we must improve the most. They must show me that they can tackle.”

Leetonia is set to host Jackson-Milton on Thursday, August 18 to begin the new season.

Leetonia Bears
Fast Facts
Head Coach: John Protopapa, 1st season at Leetonia
2021 Record: 2-5 (1-5), 7th place in EOAC
Last 5 Years: 19-27 (41.3%)
Home Field: Leetonia Bears Stadium
League: Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference
Base Offense: Spread
Base Defense: 3-4

Returning Starters
Offense: 5
Defense: 4

2021 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 17.1 (50th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 27.7 (38th in Area)

2021 Results
Bears 20 Sebring 8
Wellsville 35 Bears 8
Lisbon 19 Bears 12
Southern 49 Bears 14
Valley Christian 34 Bears 14
United 33 Bears 0
Bears 52 East Palestine 16

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. 18 – Jackson-Milton
Aug. 26 – at Martins Ferry
Sept. 2 – Mathews
Sept. 9 – at East Palestine
Sept. 16 – at United
Sept. 24 – at Valley Christian
Sept. 30 – Southern
Oct. 7 – at Lisbon
Oct. 14 – Columbiana
Oct. 21 – Wellsville