NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – The Tigers have lost an average of 8 games per season over the last 11 years (2010-20). Newton Falls’ last winning season came in 2009 when they finished 7-3.
Coach Greg Lazzari is in his second season of his second stint at Newton Falls. “There’s reason to be excited about this squad. A reason for optimism is that we’re bringing back experience on both sides of the ball. The players now care more about each other in this program and this team than they have. Attendance in the off-season has been tremendous and we have players adopting their leadership roles and skills.”
Last year’s Tiger team opened the year on the losing end of three highly contested games against Liberty (lost by 11), Campbell Memorial (fell by 13 but only allowed 20 points) and in their home opener against Brookfield (fell by 8). Later in the year, they lost a heartbreaker to Jackson-Milton – 22-20.
“Although we’re not yet where we need to be,” states Lazzari. “We’re getting closer. The team believes in what we are doing as a staff and they believe in each other. That mindset will carry them through this summer and into the season.”
Newton Falls begins the 2021 season by hosting Waterloo on August 20.
2020 Record: 1-6 (0-3, 7th place in MVAC Grey Tier)
Coach: Greg Lazzari, 6th overall season (16-31)
Previewing Newton Falls’ Offense
Scoring Offense: 15.1 (49th in Area)
Returning Starters: 8
Key Returnees: Carter Rapczak, SO/RB; Nick Rapczak, SR/QB; James Whisonant, SR/OL
Key Losses: Luke Dickey, WR; Ian King, QB; Nick Oyster, ATH
Name to watch for: Nick Rapczak, QB
Senior Nick Rapczak will be back in the fold at quarterback while he’ll have a trio of running backs all vying for time in Nick Brown, Cameron Brianard and Carter Rapczak.
Nick Rapczak completed 75% of his 36 passes (27 completions) while throwing for 290 yards and 2 scores. He also finished second on the team in rushing with 246 yards (2 TDs). Carter Rapczak led the team in rushing as a freshman by recording 279 yards on 40 attempts and a team-high four touchdowns.
Each of the team’s top four receivers have since graduated led by Luke Dickey – who had 22 receptions for 334 yards (2 TDs).
The Tigers return all five starters along the offensive line as well as a tight end. “With a good off-season from some younger players, it looks to have created depth upfront (on offense and defense),” points out Lazzari. “This may allow us to cut down on having the big guys being forced to play both sides of the ball. Seniors Hunter Jones, James Whisonant, Nick Ball and Carter Miller as well as juniors Anthony Scaildone, Konner Keys and Nick Henle will also be factors.”
Previewing Newton Falls’ Defense
Scoring Defense: 27.6 (42nd in Area)
Returning Starters: 7
Key Returnees: Nick Brown, SR/DB; Carter Miller, SR/LB; James Whisonant, SR/DL
Key Losses: Luke Dickey, DB; Joe Gossick, DL; Cole Marquette, DL; Nick Oyster, DB; Jordyn Pizzulo, DB
Name to watch for: Carter Miller, LB
Newton Falls’ top tackler Carter Miller is back for his senior campaign. Miller finished 2020 with 81 tackles, 1 ½ quarterback sacks and 11 ½ tackles for a loss. “Carter was a very important part of our defense last year,” indicates Lazzari. “His development as a leader – not just on the field – but off the field as well this offseason has been very encouraging.”
“Having players like Carter returning for another season on defense encourages others to want to be a part of something great,” Lazzari says. “Leadership on the field and in the weight room is a key factor in developing younger players and to improving the program. Coaches coach and they do their best to inspire their players. Players lead players and that’s what we expect from Carter and the other seniors on this team.”
Nick Brown returns in the secondary after making 30 ½ defensive stops. James Whisonant will play upfront again for the Tigers. Last year, the rising-senior tallied 21 ½ tackles.
2020 MVAC Grey Tier Standings
Brookfield – 5-1 (6-4)
Crestview – 4-1 (7-2)
LaBrae – 3-2 (6-4)
Champion – 2-2 (2-3)
Memorial – 2-3 (2-5)
Liberty – 1-5 (1-6)
Newton Falls – 0-3 (1-6)
Aug. 20 – Waterloo
Aug. 27 – Jackson-Milton
Sept. 3 – at Mineral Ridge
Sept. 10 – Champion
Sept. 17 – at Garrettsville Garfield
Sept. 24 – at LaBrae
Oct. 1 – at Brookfield
Oct. 8 – Liberty
Oct. 15 – at Campbell Memorial
Oct. 22 – Crestview