Western Reserve High School football preview

High School Football Previews

Coach Jason Lude is excited to have an off-season unlike last year

Western Reserve Blue Devils, High School Football

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BERLIN CENTER, Ohio (WKBN) – It was a wild ride for Jason Lude in his first season as the Blue Devils’ head coach.

“I didn’t get hired until the middle of June last year,” Lude said. “While everyone else was in helmets in July, we were finally able to open the weight room. The first time we picked up a football was the last week of July heading into the start of the season. I’m very proud of how hard last year’s team worked to learn from their third coach in a calendar year.”

Last year, the Blue Devils got by Columbiana, 37-14, in their playoff opener.

Coach Lude is excited to get back at it after having an offseason unlike last year.

“This year, I get to see our guys outside of football, at their basketball and baseball games or track meets. We get to hold one-on-one player meetings. Even more importantly than myself getting to know our kids, our kids are getting to know me,” Lude said. “We wanted to open the weight room at 6 a.m. and we had guys showing up so early and eager to lift, that we began starting at 5:30 a.m. We have an elite group of senior leadership that are very hungry to play football. It’s a right and privilege to wear the Blue Devil helmet. We want to make sure we’re always competing at an elite level in the classroom, weight room and on the football field.”

Western Reserve will begin the 2021 season with a road trip to Liberty on Friday, August 20.

2020 Record: 6-4 (4-3, 4th place in MVAC Scarlet Tier)
Coach: Jason Lude, 2nd season (6-4)

Previewing Western Reserve’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 27.1 (29th in Area)
Total Offense: 320.6
Key Returnees: David Altiere, SR/RB; David Ashburn, SR/WR; Dean Coman, SR/OL; Adam Wise, SR/OL
Key Losses: Russ Adair, RB; CJ Berlin-Bates, OL; Nick Cavoulas, QB; Alex Mayorga, WR
Name to watch for: David Altiere, RB, runs wild in debut of new head coach

“At times last year, we fell in love with the pass too much and need to get more balanced. It’s Berlin Center, folks know we’re going to run the football and take pride in doing it,” Lude said.

David Altiere returns after amassing 1,800 all-purpose yards as a junior after switching positions from wide out to running back. Altiere gained 1090 yards rushing (7.6 avg) and scored 13 touchdowns (17 total TDs) on the ground. Justin McLain and Josh Stamp should also see carries this season.

Altiere also finished second on the team in receptions a year ago (18 catches, 340 yards). David Ashburn (15 catches, 289 yards) and Ethan Cannon (three catches) will be expected to take on a bigger role this fall from their receiver positions.

Nick Cavoulas has since graduated after he threw for 1191 yards, connecting on 50.9% of his passes (85-167) and finding 12 targets good for touchdowns.

“It’s always hard to replace your quarterback,” Lude said. “Especially one with the arm talent of Nicky. I wish we got here a little sooner because I feel like we were finally clicking with Nick down the stretch as he ran the show. The thing I am most proud of those seniors is their selflessness. There were many times Nick could’ve went all in for himself and didn’t. He took his pre-snap read and dialed up what was best for the team.”

Who will be Western Reserve’s signal caller this fall? Sophomore Luke Henning – brother of Reserve-great Todd Henning – completed a pair of passes a year ago and both went for touchdowns. He’ll be competing against freshman Dom Ricciardi, who led the Blue Devils’ junior high team to their second straight undefeated season.

Look for Dean Coman and Adam Wise to anchor the offensive front. Senior Justin Musch started at left tackle a year ago. This year, he’ll play an H-Back position. Sophomores Nathan Fusillo, PJ Beres and Matt Farelli all started games last fall. Kieran Pellin and Beres have separated themselves, according to Coach Lude, as two of the strongest linemen throughout their offseason weight room workouts.

Previewing Western Reserve’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 23.7 (29th in Area)
Total Defense: 294.6
Key Returnees: David Altiere, SR/DB; David Ashburn, SR/DB; Brogan Biery, JR/LB; Caleb Durig, SR/LB; Justin McLain, SR/LB; Noah Shaffer, SR/LB
Key Losses: TJ Hively, LB; Alex Mayorga, DB; Brock Miller, DB; Seth Phillips, DL
Name to watch for: Caleb Durig, LB

“The biggest strength of the entire defensive unit is tackling,” Lude said. “I love the way our kids strike. We just have to be more consistent this season. If we can create some more turnovers, get home on the quarterback, and get off the field on third downs, we have worked ourselves in a position to be elite again.”

Reserve does not return a starter up front on the defensive unit.

Senior Caleb Durig was a First-Team All-Tier selection a year ago at inside linebacker.

“Caleb makes our job as coaches easier,” Lude said. “He calls the defense, sets the front, makes the adjustments, fixes the mistakes, all while leading the team in tackles. His instincts are some of the best I’ve ever been around and I had the privilege to coach some elite linebackers at Salem. The best thing is he’s only scratching the surface of how good he can be. “

Flanking him on the outside will be seniors Noah Shaffer and Justin McLain. Junior Brogan Biery will be in the middle along with Durig.

In the secondary, David Altiere and David Ashburn return. Luke Henning, Jimmy Burgy, Josh Stamp, Brock Wellman and Ethan Cannon each will play a significant amount of time in the defensive backfield.

2020 MVAC Scarlet Tier Standings
Springfield – 6-0 (11-1)
McDonald – 5-1 (7-2)
Jackson-Milton – 4-2 (6-3)
Western Reserve – 4-3 (6-4)
Mineral Ridge – 3-3 (6-4)
Lowellville – 2-5 (4-6)
Sebring – 1-5 (2-8)
Waterloo – 0-6 (4-6)

Schedule
Aug. 20 – at Liberty
Aug. 28 – at Warren JFK
Sept. 3 – Brookfield
Sept. 10 – at Jackson-Milton
Sept. 17 – Waterloo
Sept. 24 – Mineral Ridge
Oct. 1 – at McDonald
Oct. 8 – at Springfield
Oct. 15 – Sebring
Oct. 22 – at Lowellville

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