Potters were upended by a total of 22 points last year in 4 games
EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WKBN) – For a program which became synonymous with playing winning football – from 1996 to 2002 accumulating 56 wins – East Liverpool has only had 3 winning seasons in the past 16 years. As a matter of fact, for the first time in 8 years the Potters were successful in posting a winning record (6-4) last fall. This season, they’ll look to replace key figures on defense along with their starting quarterback (Peyton Reed).
Coach Ludwig likes what he has in camp this summer, “This is the strongest and fastest team we’ve had here. Going 6-4 and losing 3 games by a total of 8 points and all 4 by a total of 22 has given us motivation. These players are hungry.”
East Liverpool Potters
Head Coach: Josh Ludwig, 6th season (15-35)
2018 record: 6-4
Five Key Points
1.East Liverpool seeks their first back-to-back winning seasons since 2001 (7-3) and 2002 (8-4).
2.Potters scored 40-plus points in 4 of their final 7 games a year ago. It took East Liverpool 26 games prior to tally 4 games of 40-plus points.
3.East Liverpool, a season ago, had averaged more points scored (30.7) than points allowed (19.3). Last time that happened was in 2002 (20.1 to 13.9)
4.Prior to last season, East Liverpool had averaged above 30-points per game was in 1998 (32.5)
5.Derek Carter led the Potters in rushing in each of the last two seasons (2018 – 636 yards; 2017 – 552 yards)
Returning Starters: 7
Scoring Offense: 30.7 (T-16th in Area)
Rushing Offense: 196.5
Passing Offense: 154.1
Total Offense: 349.6
…Big increase in offensive output last fall from 213.2 yards of total offense to 349.6. Can that number see another surge this year? The offense will have their 2nd-year coordinator Jason Duke back at the controls. “Winning the line of scrimmage will be key,” adds Ludwig. “We need to hit big plays with our skill kids”.
The Potters must replace their QB Peyton Reed – who completed over 70% (73.7%) on his 186 throws for 1486 yards and 13 TDs. A pair of juniors appear to be battling it out this summer in camp – Nate Davis and Howie Williams. However, they’ll return their top rusher (Derek Carter) and their prolific receiver (Nick Woodyard). Carter ran for 636 yards and 8 TDs while hauling in 38 passes for 404 stripes. Woodyard earned First-Team All-OVAC honors as a junior while catching 43 balls for 489 yards and 6 scores. Timmy Neal is also back in the mix after hauling in 26 passes for 335 yards (4 TDs).
Up front, senior guard Kaz Zubay graded out last fall at 92% efficiency on his run blocking. Zubay did not allow a quarterback sack all season while dishing out 28 pancake blocks. Ludwig says of his 265-pound guard, “He’s tough as nails and goes after his assignment with intent and passion. He’s one of the best offensive lineman I’ve seen in this area in a long time.”
Returning Starters: 7
Scoring Defense: 19.3 (21st in Area)
Total Defense: 242.5
…Defensively, East Liverpool saw their defense post a record breaking season as they held their opponents to an average of 19.3 points – which was their best since 2004 (18.2). The defense must replace Justin Watkins (43 tackles) along with linebackers Aidan Watkins (104 tackles, 3 QB sacks), Lane Kopras (62 tackles), and Cory Weyand (65 tackles) and defensive back Noah Wheaton (6 INTs). Senior safety Nick Woodyard is back after leading the team in tackles (119) and picking off a pair of interceptions. Senior Timmy Neal (55 tackles, 3 INTs) is also returning at his corner spot. Both Woodyard and Neal are receiving attention from a number of FCS schools.
Defensive lineman Kaz Zubay is also back in the fold after amassing 73 defensive stops. Defensive ends Skylor Wooley (68 tackles, 3 QB sacks) and Koby Plum – is back after suffering an injury which ended his junior campaign following his All-State performance as a sophomore – are both back. As coach Ludwig indicates, Wooley commanded double teams all year as a junior.
Ludwig says, “A real key is that we’re bringing back our whole defensive line and secondary. We’ll need to find some linebackers who can step in and fill the void. We need to lean on our experience and make sure their strengths are in our 4-2-5 defensive alignment.
Aug. 30 – Cleveland JFK
Sept. 6 – Indian Creek
Sept. 13 – Salem
Sept. 20 – at Beaver Local
Sept. 27 – Oak Glen
Oct. 4 – at Martins Ferry
Oct. 11 – Edison
Oct. 18 – at Buckeye Local
Oct. 25 – at Weir
Nov. 1 – at Wellsville