BERLIN CENTER, Ohio (WKBN) – After spending the past nine years at LaBrae, John Armeni is set to begin the new season as the leader of the Blue Devil program. He compiled a winning percentage of 64% (63-36) in Leavittsburg and took the Vikings to the playoffs five times.

The Devils graduated a large senior class which included David Altiere (1702 rushing yards), Caleb Durig (107 tackles), Justin McLain, Noah Shaffer and Adam Wise.

However, the Blue Devils will welcome back sixteen letter winners. “Western Reserve has had a tradition of winning,” points out Armeni. “Our kids have been working hard to write their own chapter in that tradition. We have a veteran staff who’s eager to get to work. We all are aware of the recent struggles but we’ve been preaching to our players to focus on the work and trust the process. It hasn’t been easy to block out the noise but we have a core group of guys that have been willing to embrace the process.”

The offense returns Luke Henning, who’ll be a key cog to the unit this fall. As a sophomore, he threw for 501 yards and also scored six rushing touchdowns. “Luke is one of our strongest, fastest players,” coach Armeni states. “He has a great work ethic. Our offense coordinator (Mike Schneider) has been working with the guys [who are competing for the quarterback position] to develop an understanding of our offense and arming them with the skills that will be necessary for success in our scheme. We’re focused with developing several guys at each position so that eventually we can become an offense that is harder to defend.”

Josh Stamp, Dom Ricciardi, Jack Darney (17.6 yards per catch) and Henning are expected to be the main ball carriers this season. Receivers such as Luke Ramsey, Chris Pater, Alec Abrams and junior Ethan Cannon (13 catches) should develop into a formidable core of pass catchers.

“Upfront we’ll be leaning heavily on PJ Beres and Nathan Fusillo to be our rocks,” says Armeni. ”We have some strong, athletic guys we’re counting on to step up like Isaac Burnett, Fischer Himes, Evan Slaven, Dylan Krut, Alex Violette and Sincere French.”

On the defensive side, the Blue Devils will be installing a new aggressive alignment which will complement their athletic linebackers.

“Jake Grindley (77 tackles), Jack Darney (40 tackles) and Joey Sigworth (21 tackles) love contact,” Armeni adds. “They fly around the field. We’re counting on them to lead us. We also think we have a special group at defensive end with Mitchell Butts, Isaac Burnett and Josh Stamp. We’ll feature Luke Henning, Dom Ricciardi, Luke Ramsey, Chris Pater, Alec Abrams and Ethan Cannon in the secondary.”

Western Reserve has advanced to the post-season in thirteen of the last sixteen years. Their path back begins at home with a showdown with Liberty on Friday, August 19.

Western Reserve Blue Devils
Fast Facts
Head Coach: John Armeni, 1st season at Western Reserve
2021 Record: 5-6 (5-1), 2nd place in MVAC Scarlet Tier
Last 5 Years: 35-18 (66%)
Home Field: Western Reserve Stadium
League: Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference, Scarlet Tier
Base Offense: Pro-Style
Base Defense: 4-2-5

Returning Starters
Offense: 5
Defense: 6

2021 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 21.1 (40th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 25.8 (30th in Area)
Total Offense: 264.6
Rushing Offense: 216.5
Passing Offense: 48.1

2021 Individual Leaders
Passing: Luke Henning – 501 yards, 45.1% (41-91), 2 TDs
Rushing: David Altiere – 1702 yards, 8.0 avg, 19 TDs
Receiving: Jack Darney – 158 yards, 17.6 avg, TD

2021 Results
Springfield 38 Blue Devils 0*
Rootstown 42 Blue Devils 8
Blue Devils 56 Sebring 22
Springfield 42 Blue Devils 0
Blue Devils 28 Lowellville 27
Blue Devils 28 Mineral Ridge 0
Blue Devils 34 Waterloo 8
Blue Devils 26 Jackson-Milton 0
Brookfield 31 Blue Devils 12
Warren JFK 44 Blue Devils 28
Liberty 30 Blue Devils 12
*-playoff

2021 MVAC Scarlet Tier Standings
Springfield – 7-0 (13-2)
Western Reserve – 5-1 (5-6)
Lowellville – 4-2 (7-3)
McDonald – 3-2 (3-6)
Mineral Ridge – 2-4 (4-5)
Waterloo – 2-4 (3-7)
Jackson-Milton – 1-5 (2-7)
Sebring – 0-6 (1-7)

2022 Schedule
Aug. 19 – Liberty
Aug. 26 – Conneaut
Sept. 2 – at Brookfield
Sept. 9 – Jackson-Milton
Sept. 16 – at Waterloo
Sept. 23 – at Mineral Ridge
Sept. 30 – McDonald
Oct. 7 – Springfield
Oct. 14 – at Sebring
Oct. 21 – at Lowellville