Niles welcomes back 8 starters on each side

Sports

Coach Jim Parry prepares his team this summer for life in the Northeast 8 Conference this fall

Red Dragons begin year #1 in the Northeast 8

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – Niles begins its’ first year in the new Northeast 8 Conference along with Girard, Hubbard, Jefferson, Lakeview, Poland, South Range and Struthers. The Red Dragons’ last winning season came in 2012 (8-3), that’s seven years ago. After a 1-6 start to the 2018 season, Niles finished by topping each of their last three opponents (Howland, Jefferson, Edgewood) by a combined score of 152-6. Coach Jim Parry will have his work cut out for himself as the team lost more than a few standouts from last fall’s group, including Robbie Savin. Although, the Dragons do return 8 starters on both sides of the ball.

Niles Red Dragons
Head Coach: Jim Parry, 2nd season at Niles (4-6)
2018 record (AAC): 4-6 (1-3), 4th place AAC Red; 4-6 (3-3), 4th place AAC White
Five Key Points
1.Since coach Phil Annarella left the program in 2007, Niles has enjoyed just 1 winning season (2012: 8-3)
2.Three of the last four seasons, Red Dragons have been able to post 26-points or better per game (2018: 26.0, 2016: 29.7, 2016: 26.4).
3.Since 2014 (5 years), Niles has registered a 6-20 record in games played at Bo Rein Stadium
4.Dating back to Tony Napolet’s time in Niles (in 1973), each coach with the exception of Brian Shaner (went from 8-3 to 5-5) saw an increase in winning percentage from year #1 to year #2
5.In each of the last 5 years, Niles has had a losing streak of at least 4 games.

Offense
Returning Starters: 8
Scoring Offense: 26.0 (24th in Area)
Rushing Offense: 173.1
Passing Offense: 85.7
Total Offense: 258.8
…The offense must move on from Robbie Savin – as their workhorse runner has since graduated. Savin led the Dragons rushing attack in each of the last three seasons (2018: 1073 yards, 2017: 1135 yards, 2016: 905 yards). The team’s top receiver – Trent Johnson (caught 47 passes through only 5 games for 517 yards over the last 2 seasons) – has graduated as well. There is light at the end of the tunnel though as Niles will have back their starting quarterback (Zack Leonard), a junior running back (Travis Molnar) and two receivers (Kyle Lundgren and Seth McMillon) who each went over 100-yards last fall. Leonard took over for Jordan Soda last year as a sophomore. He threw for 850 yards and 10 touchdowns while completing 49.6% of his 139 passes. Leonard also scored 4 times on the ground. Molnar gained 340 yards on 68 rushing attempts (4 TDs) as he caught 6 passes for 98 stripes as well. “First and foremost, we want must be able to run the ball effectively,” remarks Parry. “We got better as the season progressed and we hope to keep moving (forward) in that aspect. We also would like to eliminate some of the turnovers that really killed our momentum in spots last year.” Lundgren finished 1 catch (16) behind Johnson for the team-high honors. He amassed 164 yards receiving. McMillion led the team in average receiving (7 catches, 135 yards) with 19.3 yards. Niles’ senior tight end David Mays earned 2nd-Team All-AAC honors at the conclusion of last season (4 catches, 37 yards). “Losing (Trent) Johnson was a blessing in disguise as it gave the younger guys the ability to step up and replace his production,” recalls coach Parry. “We feel that we have a good receiving corp and a few running backs with different styles to replace those guys. It’s up to our staff to be creative and get the ball into their hands.” Anchoring the offensive line will be a pair of seniors – Sean Weese and Adam McGinnis. “Our line will be a strength for us,” Parry remarks. “We have a lot returning as we played quite a few guys there this past year. We also have two (linemen) coming back from injury. We feel like we’re a lot stronger than we were a year ago and are excited to see how that translates onto the field.”

Defense
Returning Starters: 8
Scoring Defense: 27.1 (T-39th in Area)
Total Defense: 320.1
…Niles lost two All-AAC performers in defensive back Trent Johnson and defensive lineman Nick Jarvis not to mention their leading tackler Robbie Savin (57 tackles). However, the Red Dragons will return lineman Sean Weese (23 1/2 tackles) as well as linebacker David Mays (43 1/2 tackles) and defensive back Kyle Lundgren (34 1/2 tackles). From a defensive scoring standpoint, Niles lowered their number from allowing 32 points per game in 2017 to 27.1 points last fall. The Red Dragons would prefer to see that even lower as in 2011 was the last time they were able to permit their opponents to below 20-points per game (19.2). “The key to our defense will be getting all the players on the same page,” indicates coach Parry. “So, that they can play fast. We will continue to emphasize tackling and pursuit. The defense has to be the backbone of our team.”

Schedule
Aug. 29 – Howland
Sept. 6 – at Alliance
Sept. 13 – East
Sept. 20 – at Jefferson
Sept. 27 – Poland
Oct. 4 – South Range
Oct. 11 – at Struthers
Oct. 18 – Hubbard
Oct. 25 – at Lakeview
Nov. 1 – Girard

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