POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Tom Pavlansky became the first head coach at Poland to finish his first season with a winning record since Rick Shepas accomplished that feat in 1993 (8-3). Last year, the Bulldogs began the season dropping three of their first five games before finishing with an 8-4 record. Their four losses came against teams who combined for a winning percentage of 88.7% (47-6).

“I believe we’re on the right track here in year two,” says coach Pavlansky. “Each day, we’re working hard to build the best opportunity for success in 2022. Our kids continue to build their understanding as to what is expected as a Poland Bulldog, and what is expected to be able to compete against a very challenging schedule.”

Poland lost eight All-League recipients to graduation including four First-Team members.

From an offensive standpoint, the Bulldogs must replace their starting quarterback (Jack Fulton), 89.5% of their rushing yards from a year ago and their top two receivers (Ross Dedo and Gavin Wess). Fulton was one of six area quarterbacks to throw for over 1,000-yards (1340) and rush for over the millennium-mark (1369). Poland had three ball carries who gained over 450-yards last fall (Fulton, 1369; Dom Parker, 609; Dillon Smith, 477). Dedo hauled in 37 passes for an average of 20.6 yards and 9 scores.

Fulton’s replacement appears to be a two-man race between senior JP Genova and junior Dominic Pagano. “We believe each has the ability to do what the team expects from the quarterback position,” states Pavlansky. “We’ll have lots of competition between senior Bryce Barringer (returning from injury), and juniors Cole Fulton, Elias Diamandis, Danny Nittoli, Matt Boccieri and Ryan Snyder at running back. We expect this group to push each other and continue to get better throughout the season. At wide receiver, seniors Matteo Melone and Luke Generalovich return. Up front, we’ll have two returning starters in Dom Pagan and Stephen Solic. Fellow seniors Stazi Efthimiou and Joe Gentile, along with juniors Antoni Efthimiou, Tyler Sanders, Vince Zuccaro, David Olson, Alex Stefek and Logan Hackstedde are all going to be competing for spots along [the line of scrimmage].”

The defensive unit must replace their top 11 tacklers – who combined for 41 tackles for a loss, 12 quarterback takedowns and 7 interceptions.

Senior defensive end Stephen Solic and junior safety Cole Fulton are the two returning starters. Linebacker Tommy Kushner and defensive lineman Joe Gentile played significant roles last season. “Those four will be counted on to lead a young group that we expect to get better,” says Pavlansky. “Seniors Dennis McCully, Jonah Zuzan and Luke Generalovich are also expected to compete for playing time this fall.”

The Bulldogs will welcome Chaney in week one of the 2022 season.

Poland Bulldogs
Fast Facts
Head Coach: Tom Pavlansky, 2nd season at Poland (8-4)
2021 Record: 8-4 (5-2), 3rd place in Northeast 8
Last 5 Years: 40-16 (71.4%)
Home Field: Dave Pavlansky Field
League: Northeast 8 Conference
Base Offense: Spread
Base Defense: Multiple

2021 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 30.5 (20th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 19.1 (18th in Area)
Total Offense: 364.4
Rushing Offense: 243.9
Passing Offense: 120.5

2021 Individual Leaders
Passing: Jack Fulton – 1340 yards, 49.4% (87-176), 14 TDs
Rushing: Jack Fulton – 1369 yards, 7.1 avg, 15 TDs
Receiving: Ross Dedo – 762 yards, 20.6 avg, 9 TDs
Tackles: Christian Colosimo – 79
Quarterback Sacks: Dom Parker – 4
Interceptions: Cole Fulton & Gavin Wess – 2

2021 Results
West Branch 33 Bulldogs 21*
Bulldogs 35 Fairless 14*
Bulldogs 41 Struthers 27
Bulldogs 35 Jefferson 7
Bulldogs 40 Lakeview 0
Bulldogs 42 Girard 21
Bulldogs 35 Niles 7
South Range 42 Bulldogs 34
Hubbard 27 Bulldogs 23
Bulldogs 27 Howland 14
Bulldogs 21 Louisville 13
Canfield 24 Bulldogs 12

2021 Northeast 8 Standings
South Range – 7-0 (13-1)
Hubbard – 6-1 (10-2)
Poland – 5-2 (8-4)
Girard – 4-3 (7-5)
Niles – 2-4 (4-5)
Struthers – 2-5 (4-6)
Jefferson – 1-5 (4-6)
Lakeview – 0-7 (0-10)

2022 Schedule
Aug. 18 – Chaney
Aug. 26 – at Louisville
Sept. 2 – at Canfield
Sept. 9 – Hubbard
Sept. 16 – at South Range
Sept. 23 – Niles
Sept. 30 – Girard
Oct. 7 – at Lakeview
Oct. 14 – Jefferson
Oct. 21 – at Struthers