CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – The South Range football team lost their final four games of the season in 2018, en route to their first losing season in a decade. But this year, the Raiders are back in a conference and ready to make a statement against bigger schools.
After years of dominating the ITCL as the big school, South Range is now one of the smaller schools as they join the competitive Northeast 8 Conference.
“We were the big fish in the small pond but people forget, the last two years we have been independent,” said head coach Dan Yeagley, now in his 25th season with the Raiders. “We were independent when we made it to the state semis, and last year, we were independent and we scheduled properly. We scheduled up and were playing bigger schools.”
That level of competition made the Raiders better across the board. This year, they return five starters on offense, led by senior QB Isaac Allegretto, who threw for nearly 2,000 yards last season. As for the defense, eight starters are back, including senior tackle Anthony Czap.
“It really helped our defense,” said Yeagley. “Because when we were playing those other schools, all of the sudden the speed of the game increases so our defense has to increase their speed.”
“Size-wise we’re not the biggest kids but we’re just as strong as any other team,” said Allegretto. “We’re going to bring the boom every single week.”
Yeagley said the strength of this team is their senior leadership. But with just 55 players out, depth could be an issue, especially in the trenches in this new league.
“I always have a chip on my shoulder knowing that I want to go out every single week and prove people wrong,” said Allegretto. “This year is going to be a lot of the same things with a lot of teams not giving us the respect we deserve. So we’re going to have to go out there and show them from the very beginning that we belong.”
“I think we work hard in the weight room and I think our strength is along with any of them,” said Czap. “Our conditioning is going to be there and our mental toughness.”
“We’re very versatile, I think we can move the ball, we can pass, we can run,” said Chris Brooks, a senior wide receiver. “It’s just a matter of we gotta stay healthy, injuries will hurt us but I think as a group we have great chemistry together.”
“What are our expectations? You know, whatever happens, happens,” said Yeagley. “We’re going to play hard and we’re going to play South Range football and see what happens.”