Coaches say roster numbers are a big-time key to success

J. Patrick Eaken and Yaneek Smith

Any prep football coach will tell you that the more players he has come out for the team, the better the chances are for his team to be successful.

From grades 10 through 12, Clay has 52 players, which has dropped from last year. Overall they are at over 90, including 40 incoming freshmen, which coach John Galyas says is “awesome.” Two years ago, there were around 70 players in the entire program.

At Clay depth is always an issue, even though Galyas has nearly 90 players. Competing in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference, sometimes that is not even enough, but his seniors this year could be the difference maker.

“We love our senior group,” Galyas said. “Numbers-wise, it is the largest senior group that we have had. They’ve been great this year in our preseason with the leadership effort. I think last year the way we finished the season, winning our first playoff game in school history, and then in round two we played Brecksville, which is a really good football team, and we played them really tough. 

“Even though we lost, we kind of had some momentum going into the offseason and I think our kids picked up on that and they believe that, ‘Look, we can play.’ We are really excited. August 20 is right around the corner, but we are ready.”

There is enough talent on the Clay team that Galyas could see several players going to the next level after graduating.

“We do not have anyone committed to play at the next level yet, but we have guys who are being recruited and have received offers — specifically (running back/defensive back) Jordan Pettaway, (RB/outside linebacker) Owen Gibbs, (wide receiver/DB) Dominic Marquette and (tight end/LB) Ty Cobb.”

Plus one senior, 6-0, 200-pound Luke Kolinski could be a major difference maker. He will take over the signal calling for the graduated Logan Heintschel, a multi-year starter. Jackson Schultz, at 6-2, 195, is also competing for the quarterback job.

“Luke has developed into a terrific leader and everyday he is getting a better grasp of our offense,” Galyas said. “These first few weeks will determine who is going to win that job and we are finally going to see them under fire a little bit. Seven on sevens are great but it is not the real thing.

“Their skill sets are definitely a little different. Luke is more of a runner where Jackson’s running skills aren’t quite as good as Luke’s, but he can throw it. So, there is a little difference in their abilities.”

At Gibsonburg, second-year coach Joe Wyant says depth is always a problem at a small school.

“I’m hoping we get off to a fast start. We have 31 kids on our roster. We have one small class, only four sophomores. They’ve always been a very small class. We go from our starters to our freshman, 13 of them. They were a pretty good class in junior high. 

“Our problem is depth — we go from a starter as a senior to a freshman backup on the line. We can’t afford injuries. This year, we’ll probably have at least seven players going both ways. Our freshmen are pretty good, but injuries are my concern. I guess that’s the key to everything. I think we have the potential to be very good. We have some good players, but depth and injuries is a concern.”

(The 2021 Press Football Preview featuring 10 area teams can be found inserted into this week’s edition).














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