LEETONIA, Ohio (WKBN) – In Paul Hulea’s first two seasons at Leetonia, he’s seen the Bears go from an 0-10 club (the year before he arrived) to a 6-win team a year ago. “We’re excited,” exclaims Hulea. “We’re ready to get back outside with our players and get them running around, ready to go.”
The Leetonia football program went through ten consecutive seasons of not posting a winning season (2009-2018) before last year’s 6-4 mark. Prior to coach Hulea’s arrival, the Bears had compiled a 5-45 record (2013-17).
Hulea adds, “We have several starters back which is exciting. The keys for us are taking care of the ball and staying healthy – since we’re the smallest school in the league.”
The goal is to reach week eleven; something which hasn’t been done since 2008.
2019 Record: 6-4 (3-3), T-3rd place in EOAC
Head Coach: Paul Hulea, 3rd season at Leetonia (10-10)
Scoring Offense: 26.1 (26th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 20.0 (19th in Area)
What you need to know about Leetonia’s offense
-Senior Marco Ferry is back after gaining 1915 yards on 205 rushing attempts (9.3 avg) and scored 23 times. Dylan Lennon, the Bears’ quarterback, completed 49.1% of his tosses (28-57) a year ago while throwing for 462 yards and 4 touchdowns. Each of their three leading receivers from 2019 all are back – Jaedon Finley (192 receiving yards), Mike Miller (127 receiving yards) and Jorden Baker (93 receiving yards). Dylan Durick and Jacob McCool both return after rushing for 287 and 157 yards last fall.
Brayden Duko and Gannon Shepherd return along the line as the Bears will try and replace the likes of Connor Hicks and Isaac Thompson.
Last year, the offense saw an improvement in scoring average from 9.2 points to 26.1 – the highest scoring total since 2007 (28.1).
What you need to know about Leetonia’s defense
-The Bears’ defense welcomes back many of their key contributors in 2020 including junior linebackers Mike Miller (85 tackles, 2 forced fumbles) and Jacob McCool (45 tackles, 4 fumble recoveries) as well as senior defensive back Jaedon Finley (5 INTs). Also returning will be the likes of Marco Ferry (57 tackles) and Dylan Durick (35 tackles).
Leetonia did lose a couple of key down linemen in Connor Hicks (58 tackles) and Toby Heckman (27 tackles) to graduation.
Something coach Hulea has gotten out of his defensive bunch has been a commitment to slowing down their opponents efficiency. The unit has allowed just 21.6 points per game to be scored in 2018. Last year, they lowered that average to 20.0.
Leetonia’s Key Player(s)
-Senior Marco Ferry is a dynamic player who should be in store for a big year running the ball.
Aug. 27 – at Sebring
Sept. 4 – Mathews
Sept. 11 – Southington
Sept. 18 – at Wellsville
Sept. 25 – Columbiana
Oct. 2 – at Windham
Oct. 9 – Lisbon
Oct. 16 – at East Palestine
Oct. 23 – United
Oct. 30 – Southern
The Big game on the schedule
August 27 – at Sebring
…Last year’s success in the non-conference schedule helped propel the Bears to a winning record. The opener (at Sebring) is an important game being it’s Leetonia’s launching point to a successful 2020 campaign.