NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – Coach Greg Lazzari saw an increase in wins (from one to three) in his second season back into his second stint as the Tigers’ leader. Now, he looks to see his program overcome its 13-year drought of finishing seasons without a winning record. The Tigers closed out the 2009 season with a 7-3 mark with Lazzari as the head coach.

Lazzari views this season as one to be excited about.

“The expectations for this team are very high. The players are now familiar with terminology as well as the demands of this coaching staff. We have 21 returning letter winners. We are no longer a young squad and that gives reason for excitement,” he said.

The team’s top tackler Aden Hatcher returns for his senior season as inside linebacker. Last year, Hatcher recorded 98 total tackles, 13 for a loss, and five quarterback takedowns.

“Hatcher has a nose for the ball,” said Lazzari. “He’s a very physical presence in the middle of our defense. He’s taken a leadership role throughout the off-season and has continued into the summer.”

The entire secondary is back, Nick Wright (49 tackles) and Cam Brainard (43 tackles) are back in the fold. Cayden Short (65 tackles) and Carter Rapczak (68 tackles, 8 TFL) both return as well.

Anthony Scaildone (43 tackles) and Drew Montgomery both will return as the Tigers’ defensive ends. Underclassmen Chris Baryak (junior) and Trevor Ruscoe (sophomore) return as letter winners at defensive tackle.

Offensively, the team lost its leading pass catcher (Nick Rapczak) but returns its top rushers (Carter Rapczak and Cam Brainard) and quarterback Alex Pennngton. Carter Rapczak (1050 yards, 9 TDs) and Brainard (711 yards, 8 TDs) combined to rush for 1,761 yards and scored 17 touchdowns on the ground. Pennington threw for 519 yards which accounted for 14.8 per completion (2 TDs).

“Both Carter [Rapczak] and Cam [Brainard] are explosive and have break-away speed that we’ve lacked in recent years,” said Coach Lazzari. “Alex stands 6-foot-2. He has a strong arm and the ability to run as well. He took over in week five as our starting quarterback. We’re excited for him.”

Senior Wyatt Jones will anchor the Tigers’ offensive line.

“He’ll be making the move from right tackle to left tackle this year,” indicates Lazzari. “He has a great deal of upside and is being noticed by several colleges for his ability to play at the next level.”

Newton Falls opens the season against Ashtabula St. John in week one on the road.

Newton Falls Tigers
Fast Facts
Head Coach: Greg Lazzari, 7th overall season at Newton Falls (18-38)
2021 Record: 3-7 (1-6), 7th place in MVAC Grey Tier
Last 5 Years: 14-33 (29.8%)
Home Field: Newton Falls Stadium
League: Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference, Grey Tier
Base Offense: Multiple/Pro
Base Defense: 4-4

Returning Starters
Offense: 9
Defense: 8

2021 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 18.9 (48th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 34.6 (52nd in Area)
Total Offense: 284.9
Rushing Offense: 221.8
Passing Offense: 63.1
Total Defense: 373.3

2021 Individual Leaders
Passing: Alex Pennington – 519 yards, 41.7% (35-84), 2 TDs
Rushing: Carter Rapczak – 1050 yards, 6.4 avg, 9 TDs
Receiving: Nick Rapczak – 247 yards, 19.0 avg, 2 TDs
Tackles: Aden Hatcher – 98
Quarterback Sacks: Adan Hatcher – 5
Interceptions: Nick Rapczak & Nolan Kaehne – 2

2021 Results
Crestview 48 Tigers 20
Tigers 29 Campbell Memorial 22
Liberty 53 Tigers 19
Brookfield 40 Tigers 7
LaBrae 38 Tigers 0
Garfield 49 Tigers 7
Champion 34 Tigers 15
Mineral Ridge 36 Tigers 22
Tigers 35 Jackson-Milton 10
Tigers 35 Waterloo 8

2022 MVAC Grey Tier Regular Season Standings
Brookfield – 7-0 (9-1)
Garfield – 6-1 (8-2)
Crestview – 4-2 (4-5)
Liberty – 4-2 (4-5)
Champion – 2-5 (3-7)
Newton Falls – 2-5 (3-7)
Campbell – 1-6 (2-8)
LaBrae – 1-6 (1-9)

2023 Schedule
Aug. 18 – East Palestine
Aug. 25 – Jackson-Milton
Sept. 1 – at Mathews
Sept. 8 – Campbell Memorial
Sept. 15 – at LaBrae
Sept. 22 – Liberty
Sept. 29 – at Crestview
Oct. 6 – Garrettsville Garfield
Oct. 13 – at Brookfield
Oct. 20 – at Champion