LEAVITTSBURG, Ohio (WKBN) – After making their 3rd appearance in the past 4 seasons in the Regional Semifinal in 2018 – the Vikings fell below .500 for the first time since 2012 last fall. LaBrae lost all four of their contests decided by 10-points or less.
The line play, on both sides of the ball, will be young for coach Armeni. “They won’t be inexperienced, just young. We should be pretty strong and physical. We need our guys upfront to step up and show a lot of grit and determination. We think we have some solid football players there.”
2019 Record: 3-7 (2-4), T-4th place in AAC Blue
Head Coach: John Armeni, 8th season (46-30)
Scoring Offense: 20.2 (39th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 20.9 (21st in Area)
Total Offense: 287.9
Rushing Offense: 230.0
Passing Offense: 57.9
Total Defense: 279.4
What you need to know about LaBrae’s offense
-The Vikings – without the likes of Kent Wolford, Colton Stoneman, Walt Allie, Benton Tennant and Tyler Stephens – were not going to keep pace with their 2018 offense that scored on average of 45.9 points and gained over 458 yards per game. However, last year’s offense was able to land a 1,000-yard rusher who was just a sophomore and the team as a while was able to score 4 or more touchdowns in three games.
Junior Devin Carter is back after racing for 1474 yards on 173 carries (8.5 avg) and scoring 16 times on the ground. “We feel like he’s only starting the scratch the surface of what he’s capable of accomplishing,” says coach Armeni. The team’s second leading rusher Aidan Stephens appears to be the starting signal caller this season. Stephens threw for 196 yards a year ago and completed 42.4% of his passes (14-33) while rushing for 333 yards (4 TDs). Other skill players returning will be Tre’von Drake (9 catches), Shaun Miller (5.4 ypc) and Ashton Dunbar – “all had to play significant roles as sophomores,” points out Armeni. “They took some bumps and bruises against a difficult schedule. Now, we’re counting on that experience and an off-season in the weight room to pay dividends.” A couple of newcomers should provide depth also – Jay’Marion Jethroe, Landen Kiser, Brogan Collins and Stephen Hemberger.
Senior guard Anthony Harris, a three-year starter, returns along the offensive line as he’ll be joined by Adam Pettry and Cam Rabel. Armeni adds, “We need a few to step up and provide much needed depth to replace Konner Johnston, Zion Flanigan and Jordan Brewster.”
What you need to know about LaBrae’s defense
-The defensive unit kept teams close for the most part a year ago. In 7 of their 10 games played, the Vikings held their opponents to 21-points or less. They finished the 2019 season with a sub-21 point average for the 5th time in the past 6 years. This year, they’ll be without defensive linemen Zion Flanigan (56 tackles, 11 TFL), Jordan Brewster (41 tackles) as well as defensive backs Nate Ostas (52 tackles) and Dom Harris (3 INTs).
The team does return their leading tackler Max Cope, a junior linebacker, who closed out the campaign with 96 tackles (10 TFL) and 3 quarterback takedowns. Also back will be Anthony Harris (48 tackles) and Landen Kiser at linebacker. “We’ll need newcomers Clayton Stout and Brogan Collins to step up and provide depth at those positions,” states Armeni.
“We need to replace Nate (Ostas) in the secondary,” Armeni remarks. “We return every other starter including Tre’von Drake, Aidan Stephens, Devin Carter (37 tackles) and Ashton Dunbar (43 tackles) in the secondary. Our speed and experience should be a real strength. Our line played a lot of young guys last year. We’re looking to build on that as we’ll need to get guys like Zaidan Flanigan, Cam Rabel, Erich Winkleman, Shaun Miller and Noah Pettry to step up to accomplish that.”
LaBrae’s Key Player(s)
-Junior RB Devin Carter ran for over 240-yards in three outings last year including a 244-yard game against league winner-Brookfield in week 8. What will he do for an encore?
Aug. 28 – Beaver Local
Sept. 4 – Garrettsville Garfield
Sept. 11 – at Keystone
Sept. 18 – at Campbell Memorial
Sept. 25 – Champion
Oct. 2 – at Liberty
Oct. 9 – at Newton Falls
Oct. 16 – Brookfield
Oct. 23 – at Lucas
Oct. 30 – Crestview
The Big game on the schedule
September 18 – at Campbell Memorial
…Last year, the Vikings opened their league slate with back-to-back losses. They open at Campbell Memorial in their league opener. A big game for a team which returns 7 starters on each side of the ball.
Since 2010, Vikings’ rushers to gain over 1,000-yards
2019 – Devin Carter, 1474
2015 – Keevon Harris, 1661
2011 – Matt Szorady, 1117