LOWELLVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – Lowellville is entering the second year under head coach Andrew Mamula.
“This is almost like year 1 1/2 for us. Year 1A,” Mamula said. “It almost felt like last year, it was just kinda a training year, which was good as a first-year head coach. That’s kinda the way I looked at it. You kinda get this buffer year to kinda see what works and what doesn’t work. Whereas now we’re gonna hit the ground running with our feet running.”
The Rockets averaged nearly 30 points per game last fall, which was their highest scoring output since 2002.
Watch the video above to hear Coach Mamula’s thoughts heading into the season.
2020 Record: 4-6 (2-5, 6th place in MVAC Scarlet Tier)
Coach: Andrew Mamula, 2nd season (4-6)
Previewing Lowellville’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 29.6 (21st in the area)
Total Offense: 349.2
Returning Starters: 8
Key Returnees: Vinny Ballone, JR/QB; Brady Bunofsky, JR/WR; Max Jones, SR/OL; Anthony Lucente, JR/TE; Anthony Lucido, SR/OL; Kyle Miller, SR/OL; Alex Modelski, JR/WR; Francisco Rivera-Ocasio, OL
Key Losses: Cole Bunofsky, WR; Taz Sanchez, RB
Name to watch for: Vinny Ballone, QB
Lowellville averaged the most points in a single season last year (29.6) since their last league championship and the undefeated regular season of 2002 (33.0).
As a sophomore, quarterback Vinny Ballone completed 54.7% of his passes (181-331) while throwing for 2,472 yards and 34 touchdowns. Ballone also led the team in rushing with 368 yards on 87 totes (4.2 avg).
His favorite target was Brady Bunofsky, who caught 63 balls as a sophomore. Bunofsky was 16 yards shy of 1,000 receiving yards for the season (984). He hauled in 10 touchdowns.
Expect to see the likes of Alex Modelski (26 catches, 289 yards), Anthony Lucente (25 catches, 264 yards), Braylen Dabney (3 catches), Jim Clinton (7 receptions) and Tino Rivera-Occasio to contribute as well.
Previewing Lowellville’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 37.2 (57th in the area)
Total Defense: 299.1
Returning Starters: 7
Key Returnees: Brady Bunofsky, JR/LB; Braylen Dabney, SO/DB; Vinny Layko, SR/LB; Anthony Lucido, SR/DL; Matt Lucido, SO/LB; Tino Rivera-Ocasio, SO/LB
Key Losses: Cole Bunofsky, DB; John Loshuk, DL; Francisco Rivera-Ocasio, DL; Taz Sanchez, DB; Ricky Snyder, LB
Name to watch for: Vinny Layko, LB
The Rockets have allowed their opponents to average 31 points or more in four of the last six years.
“We expect to be able to get to the ball,” Mamula said. “We need to do a better job of finishing this year. We’ll be undersized again, but our speed will allow us to be a bit more exotic with blitzes and bring pressure from different areas to counteract our lack of size up front. We’ll have a lot of speed, especially in the secondary and our outside linebacker core.”
Linebacker Vinny Layko returns after posting the third highest tackle total on the team (47).
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)
Aug. 20 – at Columbiana
Aug. 27 – Campbell Memorial
Sept. 3 – at Wellsville
Sept. 10 – Springfield
Sept. 17 – Jackson-Milton
Sept. 24 – at Waterloo
Oct. 1 – at Sebring
Oct. 8 – McDonald
Oct. 15 – Mineral Ridge
Oct. 22 – Western Reserve