By Charles Grove



Numbers are up this year at East Liverpool, and so might the win total when it’s all said and done.

“In recent years our numbers have been down,” East Liverpool head coach Johsua Ludwig said. “But we’re got over 50 kids this year and 17 of those are seniors. They really understand football so that’s key.”

The Potters sputtered to a 3-7 record a year ago. After a opening week win over Edison (27-20), East Liverpool dropped five straight before bouncing back to defeat Oak Glen (28-7) and Buckeye Local (41-14). The season ended with losses to St. Clairsville and Weir.


Three-year starter Austin Mayfield returns to lead the Potters’ offense one more time. He and seven other starters make up what should be one of the most experienced units around.

Ryan Tanner, Danny Wells and Freddie Plum return to the offensive line alongside two converted fullbacks. Junior Jake Cornell and sophomore Aiden Watkins were asked to move to guard this year and so far so good.

“Neither of them were very excited when we asked them to move to guard,” Ludwig said. “But they’re really picked it up well. They’ve both got great footwork and lots of power.”

The skill positions all feature experience as well. Kyle Walker, who Ludwig says is the fastest player on the team, returns at running back and Aaron Bombich, Zach Gill and Dakota Ice all will see plenty of the ball as well.


Seven returning starters on defense should provide a tough task for opposing offenses. Plum, who’s 6-foot-5 will see playing time at defensive end and tackle. He’s had 72 and 74 tackles each of the last two seasons and racked up 14 tackles for losses a year ago.

“He’s really fast and really strong,” Ludwig said. “He should get some Division I looks for college at the line.”

David Locke, the strongest kid on the team according to Ludwig, will play defensive end and Bombich will return to his spot at cornerback. Sophomore Lane Kopras will get the start at linebacker alongside Cornell.

special teams

Dylan Kidder returns for his senior season and is expected to be a big boost on both kickoffs and in the red zone.

“If we’re inside the 20 and the drive stalls on a fourth and short, we’re very capable of taking the points instead of going for it, which is a really nice feeling,” Ludwig said. “He’s also able to boot the ball on kickoffs inside the five so that’s really going to help with field position this year.”

Mayfield, who averaged more than 40 yards per punt a year ago, will be back to those duties as well.

Ice and freshman Derek Carter, who’s impressed the coaching staff all camp long, will be returning kickoffs.


Ludwig said the team has high hopes and expects to improve on last year’s record.

“The first goal is to win the [Buckeye Eight] conference,” Ludwig said. “We should know if we’re capable of doing that by Week Five. This team has a ton of confidence and that’s key too. We’re going to spread teams out, air it out and surprise some people.”

Dropped from last year’s schedule is Wilmington (Pa.) and replacing it is Southeast in Week Four. The Potters have an unusual start to their schedule as well, playing their first three games on the road before coming home weeks four though six.