WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Tigers have improved in each of the past two seasons (2018: 1-9; 2019: 4-6; 2020: 5-4) with coach Steve Boyle posting his first winning campaign last fall.
Traditionally, Howland follows up a winning season with another. Only one time in the history of the program has the Tigers not had consecutive winning seasons (1995: 7-3).
Last October, Howland won their playoff opener over Buchtel (27-0) – before falling the next week to eventual Division III state champion Chardon (49-14).
The 2021 season gets underway at Bo Rein Stadium in Niles on August 19.
2020 Record: 5-4
Coach: Steve Boyle, 4th season (10-19)
2020 Big 22: Eric Babinchak
Previewing Howland’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 21.3 (40th in Area)
Total Offense: 393.2
Returning Starters: 6
Key Returnees: Gage Gibson, SR/OL; Luca Massucci, SR/ATH; Grant Myers, SR/OL; Matt Woomer, SR/RB
Key Losses: Eric Babinchak, RB; David Burman, QB; Mason Gentile, WR; Brayden Gibson, TE; Keagan Landfried, OL; Stone Walters, OL
Name to watch for: Luca Massucci, ATH
The Tigers must replace the production of Big 22 standout Eric Babinchak and their signal caller David Burman. Babinchak gained 1775 yards on 252 carries while scoring 18 times on the ground. Babinchak also led the team in receptions (11), receiving yards (232) and yards per catch (21.1). Burman threw for 501 yards on 36 completions.
This summer, the competition for the quarterback spot will come down to a four-man race with Luca Massucci, Gavin Caldwell, John Perry and Nolan Rudesill all up for the nod. Stepping in for Babinchak at running back will most likely be Michael Goussios, Matt Woomer and Marco Massucci. As a junior, Woomer was able to gain 503 yards rushing and haul in 9 passes for 88 yards. He scored a total of 6 offensive touchdowns.
Coach Boyle points out, “The offensive line is looking good. We’ll have to move a few guys around but our core guys who we can hang our hats on will be Grant Myers, Gage Gibson, Gabe Badea and Carter Baugher.” Gibson was named to the First-Team All-Conference a year ago. Myers was an honorable mention candidate.
In week 9 a year ago, Howland scored 42 points. It was the first time that a Tiger team had scored 40 or more points in a game since October 12, 2017 – when Howland also scored 42 against Niles.
Previewing Howland’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 26.3 (T-37th in Area)
Total Defense: 213.3
Returning Starters: 5
Key Returnees: Ethan Snyder, SR/LB; Matt Woomer, SR/DB
Key Losses: Nick Mijavec, DL
Name to watch for: Ethan Snyder, LB
The defense returns a pair of all-conference recipients in defensive back Matt Woomer and linebacker Ethan Snyder.
“This off-season, we’ve been impressed with Ethan (Snyder) as well as juniors Simon Merkel (defensive lineman), and Michael Goussios (defensive back),” indicates Boyle.
The Tigers’ playoff win against Buchtel (27-0) was the first shut out that Howland had posted since the first Friday of October 2017 (against Perry Traditional Academy, 30-0).
“We plan on coming at our opponents with a relentless swarm to the football,” says coach Boyle. “Our defensive line has to be our strength on defense.”