SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – After failing to register a winning season in four straight years (2011-14), Salem has posted an overall record of 41-24 (63.1%) over the past six years.
“We have very high expectations for this season,” coach Ron Johnson says. With 37 returning letter winners back in the fold, “Our strengths will be team chemistry and experience.”
The Quakers’ season gets underway on Thursday against Crestview.
2020 Record: 5-6 (3-3, 5th place in EBC)
Coach: Ron Johnson, 9th season at Salem (115-117 overall)
2020 Big 22: Jackson Johnson
Previewing Salem’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 26.5 (30th in Area)
Returning Starters: 9
Key Returnees: Blaize Exline, SR/WR; Jackson Johnson, JR/QB; Caleb Stockman, SR/OL; Carson Stockman, SR/OL
Key Losses: Jax Booth, WR; Cooper Gottschling, OL
Name to watch for: Jackson Johnson, JR/QB
For the 6th consecutive year, Salem’s offense has averaged 26-points or more per game.
Junior signal caller Jackson Johnson threw for 2831 yards (a new school record) and 30 scores while completing 64.9% of his passes (238-367). Johnson also led the team in rushing with 1078 yards on 167 carries (6.5 avg) and 8 touchdowns. He was one of 4 signal callers in the area, a year ago, to throw for over 1000-yards (2831) and rush for over 1000-more (1078).
This fall, Jackson will look to lead the Quakers to a better mark in the EBC as he eyes up Trent Toothman’s career record of 5440 yards passing. Johnson’s favorite target Blaize Exline returns after his record-breaking season. Exline caught 112 passes for 1345 yards (12.0 avg) and 19 touchdowns.
Coach Johnson points out, “(Jackson and Blaize) have worked diligently since the season ended to put themselves in position to have a great season. We’ve expanded Blaize’s role to utilize his exceptional speed and become a downfield threat. Jackson will continue to be a dual-threat and will expand his role in calling the offense.”
Brock Young and Dillon Monroy snagged 23 and 20 receptions a year ago. Both return for the 2021 season as well.
Upfront the Quakers welcome back four starters. “We feel the offensive line is our strength this year with 77 starts under their belt,” states Johnson. “We expect to average 6’2″, 271-pounds across the line. Twins, Caleb and Carson Stockman anchor the front. Caleb will be a 4-year starter and Carson a 3-year starter while being one of the strongest players in Salem history.” The other returning linemen are center Noah Marshall and guard Griffin Panezott, who are both seniors.
Previewing Salem’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 29.0 (47th in Area)
Returning Starters: 9
Key Returnees: Ross Davidson, SO/DB; Blaize Exline, SR/DB; Josiah Haas, SR/DL; Jackson Johnson, JR/DB; Dillon Monroy, JR/DB; Corey Riesen, SR/LB; Damon Wolfe, SR/DL
Key Losses: Jax Booth, DB; Devine Allah, DL
Name to watch for: Dillon Monroy, DB
Salem opened the year with a 1-3 mark. The defense allowed an average of 39.3 points per contest. Over their next 7 games, they permitted just 23.1 points per outing. That type of improvement will be needed this season.
Jax Booth has since graduated but leaves behind big shoes to fill as he finished with 153 tackles and 4 picks.
Salem returns lots of experience on the defensive side of the ball led by Jackson Johnson (109 tackles), Dillon Monroy (98 tackles), Damon Wolfe (83 tackles) and Blaize Exline (2 INTs).
“It’s always great to return experienced players,” remarks coach Johnson. “Dillon (Monroy) is going to be a playmaker this year in making the move to safety (from linebacker). Damon Wolfe and Gavin Wilms will both move from linebacker to defensive end. We’ll be led upfront by Josiah Haas. Corey Riesen will be the quarterback of the defense at the Mike linebacker. We have a very deep backend with sophomore Ross Davidson leading us at safety.”
2020 EBC Standings
West Branch – 5-0 (8-2)
Canton South – 4-1 (5-3)
Carrollton – 3-2 (7-3)
Marlington – 3-2 (3-5)
Salem – 3-3 (5-6)
Alliance – 1-5 (2-8)
Minerva – 0-6 (2-8)
Aug. 19 – at Crestview
Aug. 27 – Beaver Local
Sept. 3 – at East Liverpool
Sept. 10 – Firestone
Sept. 17 – at Alliance
Sept. 24 – Minerva
Oct. 1 – at Marlington
Oct. 8 – at Carrollton
Oct. 15 – Canton South
Oct. 23 – West Branch