CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – South Range won the Northeast 8 Conference title last fall by cruising to a perfect 6-0 mark in league play. For the eighth time in the last 20 years, South Range finished the regular season undefeated. The Raiders fell in the regional final to Kirtland to end the season at 9-1.
Watch the video above to hear from South Range Head Coach Dan Yeagley.
“We played a lot of kids last year. We were young last year, but the whole league was young,” Yeagley said. “It’s going to be really interesting this year because a lot like last year, everybody’s got a lot of returners coming back. Everybody has high expectations. We just got to make sure we play our best week in and week out because our schedule is pretty brutal.”
This year, South Range must get by without the league Player of the Year, Michael Patrone.
The Raiders begin the 2021 season with a much-anticipated clash at New Middletown against Springfield on August 20.
2020 Record: 9-1 (6-0, 1st place in Northeast 8)
Coach: Dan Yeagley, 27th season (219-74)
2020 Big 22: Michael Patrone
Previewing South Range’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 43.5 (1st in Area)
Total Offense: 435.3
Returning Starters: 8
Key Returnees: Jacob Brooks, SR/OL; Chris Colucci, JR/OL; Logan Cormell, SR/OL; Dylan Dominguez, SR/RB; Connor Jones, SR/RB; Michael Lally, SR/OL; Shane Lindstrom, JR/WR; Cory Penick, SR/RB
Key Losses: Luke Blasko, RB; Luke Crumbacher, WR; Jake Gehring, TE; Harley Novak, K; Michael Patrone, QB
Name to watch for: Dylan Dominguez, RB
For the fourth time in the last eight years, South Range went over 40 points per game in a single season (2020: 43.5; 2016: 40.1; 2014: 45.0; 2013: 42.6).
The Raiders must replace quarterback and league Player of the Year Michael Patrone this season. Patrone completed 63.2% of his passes (72-114) for 1,375 yards while tossing 19 touchdowns compared to just two interceptions. Patrone also nearly ran for 1,000-yards (878 rushing yards) as he crossed the goal line nine times and accumulated 9.9 yards per carry.
“It really helps having Dylan Dominguez, Shane Lindstrom, Connor Jones and Cory Penick back,” Coach Yeagley said. “They’re all explosive players and will be a big part of our offense this year.”
Dominguez led the team in rushing with 1,051 yards and 18 touchdowns. Dominguez also caught 11 passes for an average of 15.9 yards per reception.
Billy Skripac (214 passing yards) and Ethan Zinz will be competing this summer for the starting signal caller position.
Blocking back Luke Blasko (441 rushing yards) graduated this past spring, which opens the position for plenty of competition over the next two months. Look for Connor Jones, Cory Penick (73 rushing yards), Tyler Remish, Jake Starkey (three rushing TDs), Barry Pitzer and Hunter Knauff to compete for the open spot.
The Raiders lost their top three receivers (Luke Crumbacher, 535 yards; Jake Gehring, 228 yards; Luke Blasko, 221 yards) from a year ago. Yeagley points out that Ayden Leon, Joey Plunkett, Dean DePizzo and Isaiah Slabach will be in the mix at wide out. JD Crouse and Caleb Agee will see time this summer at tight end as well.
South Range welcomes back four starters up front.
“Having [Michael] Lally, [Jacob] Brooks, [Logan] Cormell and Chris Colucci really helps us. We have some others that had a great winter in the weight room,” Yeagley said. “Beren Laws, Kyle Blough, Bailey Ryan, Braxton Bergman, Ryan Bartholow, Kade Witmer, Ethan Francis, Dominic Tunno and Gus Valentine all have looked good during the offseason.”
Previewing South Range’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 20.4 (21st in Area)
Total Defense: 300.2
Returning Starters: 9
Key Returnees: Kamron Aquisto, SO/LB; Jacob Brooks, SR/DL; Logan Cormell, SR/LB; Dylan Dominguez, SR/DB; Shane Lindstrom, JR/DB; Cory Penick, SR/DB; Tyler Remish, JR/LB; Bailey Ryan, JR/DL; Ethan Zinz, SR/DB
Key Losses: Luke Blasko, DL; Luke Crumbacher, DB; Jake Gehring, DL; Michael Patrone, LB
Name to watch for: Cory Penick, DB
Last year, South Range forced 17 takeaways (11 interceptions/six fumble recoveries) and held the opposition to 16 points or less in five of their 10 games.
“We’re returning nine starters,” Yeagley said. “We played a lot of young men last year on top of those nine. All three linebackers are back and all four defensive backs are returning which is a great place to start.”
Cory Penick, a First-Team All-League selection, finished second in interceptions (three) last fall.
“Besides the nine returners,” Yeagley said, “we’re looking at Connor Jones, Jake Starkey, Gus Valentine, JD Crouse, Caleb Agee, Joey Plunkett, Dean Depizzo, Isaiah Slabach, Braxton Bergman, Ryan Bartholow and Kyle Blough to make an impact this coming season.”
Last fall, the Raiders held their opponents to an average of 21 points or less in five of the last six years.
“We need to replace both defensive ends which will be hard to do but we have some young men that played there some last year and will be ready to fill in full time,” Yeagley said.
2020 Northeast 8 Standings
South Range – 6-0 (9-1)
Poland – 5-1 (7-2)
Hubbard – 4-2 (5-3)
Niles – 4-2 (5-4)
Girard – 2-4 (4-6)
Struthers – 2-4 (2-5)
Jefferson – 1-5 (3-7)
Lakeview – 0-6 (1-7)
Aug. 20 – at Springfield
Aug. 27 – University School
Sept. 3 – Canton Central Catholic
Sept. 10 – at Struthers
Sept. 17 – at Poland
Sept. 24 – Girard
Oct. 1 – at Niles
Oct. 8 – Jefferson
Oct. 15 – at Lakeview
Oct. 22 – Hubbard