LOWELLVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – At 6-foot-4, Vinny Ballone stands tall behind center as Lowellville’s starting quarterback. Last fall, he tossed for 2,114 yards and led the team with 870 yards on the ground, with 39 total touchdowns.
Now entering his senior season, Ballone has shattered the Rockets’ record book and is firmly entrenched as one of the top players in program history.
“He has every school record to date, and he’s, you know, he still has a year to play,” said Lowellville Head Coach Andrew Mamula. “I adapted to him and his strengths, and because of that, I think he’s kind of revitalized this program, and we owe a lot to him for that.”
Ballone said that he’s grown as a quarterback during his high school career.
“Just from like when I was younger, I used to be like not really a big guy, like, not real strong,” Ballone admitted. “And I’ve started to work on that a little more and be able to throw some, like some heat behind the ball, get some strength behind it, never throw a deeper, harder, faster and get these receivers the balls.”
Receivers such as senior Brady Bunofsky. He headlines a spread offense returning nearly intact. It’s a unit that averaged nearly 32 points per game a season ago, with eight starters back in the fold this fall.
“They’ll be one of the best offenses in the area. I mean, any division where our offense is really good,” Bunofsky predicted.
Coach Mamula has high hopes for his senior wideout.
“I think he’s a Division I athlete, and you don’t get many of those down here. And I know every coach thinks that about their best players, but it’s when you watch film of him, he looks different than everybody else on there,” Mamula said. “He hates losing, and it’s that competitive spirit that really, I think, separates. I mean, you know, it’s you know, guys have that where they just hate losing so much that they just won’t let it happen.”
He is clearly Ballone’s favorite target.
“He’s really like the main receiver out there,” admitted Ballone. “When we need that big play, we already know it. We all, we always know we can go to him. He’s going to make the play when we need it.”
It’s a winning culture that has become contagious in the Rockets’ program, which has posted a pair of winning seasons since 2019.
Mamula offers the following preseason message to his team heading into year three of his tenure as head coach.
“We want you to be the best that’s ever come through here. And the kids, they know that they’re not shying away from their greatness. They understand that, and it’s our job to achieve it, and anything less than that, it will be a disappointment down here.”
Lowellville will kickoff the season on Friday, Aug. 19 on the road at Columbiana.