Struthers seeks three consecutive playoff trips in 2018

Sports

The days of Struthers failing to register a winning season is well in the past. During an 11 year period (2001-11), the Wildcats didn’t have a winning season once. Struthers compiled 5 seasons of 8-losses or more. Since coach Curt Kuntz took over, the  ‘Cats have had just one losing campaign (2014: 4-6) and they’ve advanced to week eleven three times in six years. Just last Fall, Struthers qualified for the post-season in back-to-back years for the first time in school history.

2018 Struthers Wildcats’ Football Preview

Head Coach: Curt Kuntz, 7th season (40-24)

Record:  7-4 (4-2), 3rd place in AAC White Tier

What you need to know about the Struthers Offense

The offense saw a dip in the scoring output from the year prior (2015: 29.9; 2016: 23.5) without the likes of A.J. Musolino, Regal Reese, Jacob Shaffer, Adam Sedznick and Christian Carson. However, the offense still was able to churn out 297.3 total yards of offense and scoring average of 24 points per game (23.5). All-League linemen A.J. Iarussi and Jimmy Stefanski both graduated from the team this past Spring. Same can be said of Nick Adams (24 catches, 360 receiving yards). Senior quarterback J.D. Hall returns after taking over for Musolino. Hall threw for 1103 yards and a completion percentage of 56.4% (92-163) and 8 scores. Keyshawn Chism and Adrian Brown both had strong campaigns last year. Chism, as a junior, ran for 299 yards. Brown, as a sophomore, carried the ball for 238 yards. Senior receiver Tommy Kopnicky caught 19 passes a year ago for 12.6 yards per reception. Junior Jake Vlosich is back to anchor the offensive line.

 

Key to the Struthers Offense

Without their top two playmakers (Willie Mitchell at RB; Nick Adams at receiver) – the offense will have to find skill players to contribute early and often.

 

What you need to know about the Struthers Defense

The defense under coach Kuntz has been especially strong at limiting the amount of points their opponents have been able to come by. Since 2012 – foes have averaged 23-points or more just once during a season (2015: 27.9). Unfortunately, the Wildcats must replace a couple of First-Team All-League performers in Ben Santana (4 ½ QB sacks, 47 tackles) as well as Conner Calabrette (75 tackles, 9 QB sacks) and Nate Richards (61 tackles). Struthers returns Adrian Brown (59 tackles), Brandan Serrano (6 QB sacks) and Tyrese Hawkins (21 tackles).

 

Key to the Struthers Defense

Replacing a couple of standouts in the front seven (Conner Calabrette, Ben Santana & Nate Richards) will be difficult to do. The Wildcats must win the line of scrimmage.

 

Offensive player to watch for

Senior/QB, J.D. Hall

…It’s never easy to replace a 3-year starter especially at the quarterback position. Hall threw a total of 10 passes (completed 4) during his first two seasons on the varsity level. Last year, he finished with a quarterback rating of 119.7 and threw for over 1000-yards (1103).

 

Defensive player to watch for

Senior/CB, Tommy Kopnicky

…On October 13, Kopnicky clinched Struthers’ win against Hubbard (20-14) with an interception in the fourth quarter. He finished with the team-lead in interceptions (2) and pass breakups (5) in 2017.

2018 Schedule

Aug. 24 – Liberty, 7

Aug. 31 – at Crestview, 7

Sept. 7 – Niles, 7

Sept. 14 – at Jefferson, 7

Sept. 21 – Canfield, 7

Sept. 28 – at Poland, 7

Oct. 5 – at Campbell Memorial, 7

Oct. 12 – at Hubbard, 7

Oct. 19 – Edgewood, 7

Oct. 26 – Lakeview, 7

 

Key Game

A year ago – Struthers jumped out to a 4-0 start after knocking off Liberty (41-8), Crestview (16-9), Niles (41-23), and Jefferson (36-6). Those first four matchups are back intact in 2018. The Wildcats must start the season with the same fire they did last Fall. That begins with week one, playing in front of the home crowd, against Liberty.

 

2017 Team Stats

Scoring Offense: 23.5

Total Offense: 297.3

Passing Offense:  102.1

Rushing Offense: 195.2

Scoring Defense: 18.1

 

2017 Statistical Leaders

Passing: J.D. Hall – 1103 yards, 56.4% (92-163), 8 TDs

Rushing: Willie Mitchell – 791 yards, 5.6 avg, 11 TDs

Receiving: Nick Adams – 24 catches, 360 yards, 3 TDs*

Tackles: Conner Calabrette – 75*

Quarterback Sacks: Conner Calabrette – 9*

Interceptions: Tommy Kopnicky – 2

*-Graduated

 

Big 22 Recipients

2016: A.J. Musolino

2012: David Stewart

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