2014 Mineral Ridge Football Preview

2014 Mineral Ridge Rams’ Football Preview
2013 Record: 5-5 (2-5), ITCL Lower Tier
Head Coach: Jeff Whittaker, 1st Season at Mineral Ridge
Division: 7
Last Trip to Post-Season: 2005
School Playoff Record: 2-3
Last League Title: 2004
5-Year Winning Percentage: 54.0%

2014 Schedule
Aug. 28 – Salem, 7
Sept. 5 – Lisbon, 7
Sept. 12 – at Newton Falls, 7
Sept. 19 – at McDonald, 7
Sept. 26 – Western Reserve, 7
Oct. 3 – Wellsville, 7
Oct. 10 – at Sebring, 7
Oct. 17 – Southern, 7
Oct. 24 – Leetonia, 7
Oct. 31 – at Lowellville, 7

Year in Review: The Rams jumped out to a 3-0 start last fall. Ridge’s first three opponents; however, finished with a 6-24 mark (20%). The black and orange closed out the season winners of just two of their last seven contests. In their five losses, which were by an average of 9 points, they faced off against teams who had a winning record at season’s end.

Coach Doug Velasquez stepped down after a one-year stint in February. Enter a familiar face not only to Mineral Ridge but also to the area in Jeff Whittaker. He graduated from Ridge and went onto have himself a spectacular coaching career at Conneaut (60-41) and at Liberty (100-76). Whittaker will bring an experienced staff to Mineral Ridge led by Dave and Jim Pappada, Karlis Larson, and Tom Cornacelli.

The Rams will open the season on August 28 when they welcome Salem to E.Z. Whittaker Field, which was named after Jeff’s brother.

2013 Team Leaders
Points Scored Per Game: 24.6 (31st in Area)
Rushing Offense: 171.0
Passing Offense: 129.0
Points Allowed Per Game: 20.0 (21st in Area)

3 Things to Watch at Ridge
Improving Defense.
It’s hard to imagine that Ridge’s defense allowed an average of 40 points per game to be scored upon them three seasons ago (2011: 40.0). Taking into account that their defense had held the opposition below 20 points per contest in seven of eight years not too long ago (2002-07, 09). However, that was the reality. They ranked 61st of 62 area teams in 2011. Within two seasons though, they cut that average in half (2013: 20.0). Without their senior class led by linebacker Josh Goss (led the team with 101 tackles), the Rams will have their work cut out for them.

Offensive tune up.
Mineral Ridge has averaged 32 points or more in two of their last four seasons. With that said, losing their top two rushers (Josh Goss & Mike Eaton), top two receivers (Corey Phillips & Ethan Dukes) and three-year signal caller (Jonathan Baker) doesn’t bode well for a team who’d like to see their numbers improve.

Salem and Newton Falls added
Out with Fairport Harding and Jackson-Milton (rejoined the Upper Tier). In with Salem and Newton Falls. The Quakers and the Tigers may give Ridge more opportunities to snag computer points in the long run. The goal is to end the playoff drought at nine years.

Recent Leaders
Passing Yards
2013: Jonathan Baker – 1270
2012: Jonathan Baker – 1212
2011: Jonathan Baker – 577
2010: Jesse Garland – 465
2009: Jesse Garland – 542
2008: Jesse Garland – 367

Rushing Yards
2013: Josh Goss – 765
2012: Devine Redding – 1100
2011: Devine Redding – 926
2010: Dan Skiba – 1647
2009: Dan Skiba – 512
2008: Kyle Skiba – 815

2013: Josh Goss – 101
2012: Josh Goss – 116
2011: Josh Goss & Casey Porter – 65
2010: Ryan Porter – 90
2009: Ryan Porter – 106
2008: Adam Hess – 95

Fact Finder: Ridge has won 8 of their last 10 games played in the month of September. However, the Rams have dropped 8 of their last 11 played in the month that follows (October)…Mineral Ridge tallied a 7-3 mark away from home in their last ten.

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