WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – December 3rd, 2016 will hard to forget for the Warren JFK football team. That’s the day the Eagles claimed their second state title in school history. This year, they’ll look to defend that championship with a new group of young men who are looking to make their own mark at Kennedy.
“You call it once in a lifetime. We’re trying to get that again,” Senior Quarterback Greg Valent said.
Head Coach Jeff Bayuk is looking towards the future, not into the rear-view mirror.
“Nobody cares what you did yesterday. What are you gonna do today, what are you gonna do tomorrow?” asked Bayuk.
Bayuk has done a masterful job in his last three years at Kennedy culminating with his first state title in 26 years of coaching. But, he made it clear, his work is not done.”
“If just winning a state championship was all I was working for, I probably wouldn’t be standing here talking to you right now. So, although it’s a great memory, that’s what it is. It’s time to move on and I’m a little worried about that,” Bayuk added.
“This year’s team is up for that challenge. 43 players are out, and once again, defense will be the strength. Last year’s team gave up seven points per game all postseason. But, after losing seven starters, repeating that effort will not be easy.”
“To expect that from these kids, they’re not gonna have that same personality. They may be stronger in some other areas,” sadi Bayuk.
It’s a unit that will count on Senior Linebacker Alec Burzynski.
“It just depends on how hard we work. We’re working pretty hard right now. So, we gotta stay with the same mentality. Hard-nosed, physical, run to the ball. And, we’ll see where it leads us,” he said.
Senior Greg Valent is a returning starter at quarterback as a dual threat for the Eagles. Speedy classmate Hiland Burton also brings back plenty of experience on the outside as their primary playmaker.
“You can’t win a championship unless you’re well-rounded, which means you need to be able to support the team on defense, offense, and special teams. If you don’t have that, trio then you’re not gonna win a state title,” said Valent.
Fellow Senior Tom Yanovich says the key is staying focused.
“We either did better or worse every day. Never stay the same. We have to come here and just bust our butts to get better. We never want to get worse,” explained Yanovich.
Warren JFK will kickoff the regular season on Thursday August 24 on the road at Champion.
“We have to be ready, and we have to play with that same hunger that we had. A lot of these kids were around that, so they know what our expectations are,” Bayuk said.