South Range ready for league play


Raiders to face Northeast 8

By Tom Williams

williams@vindy.com

BEAVER TOWNSHIP

After South Range’s two seasons as a football independent, the Raiders now have a league of their own.

And the competition will be fierce.

“It’s so much better being in a league,” South Range head coach Dan Yeagley said. “And the Northeast 8 is a great football league.

“It’s awesome — we’re not struggling to find games. Now we know who we are going to play every year.”

For decades, South Range dominated the Inter-County League and Inter-Tri County leagues. Three years ago, 13 of the ITCL’s 16 superintendents voted to disband the league to form the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference and Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference. South Range and Crestview weren’t invited to join either.

In the Raiders’ first season as an independent, they went undefeated and advanced to the Division V state semifinals.

Last year’s team went 4-6.

“It’s exciting that we’re in a league,” senior quarterback Isaac Allegretto said. “We have something to play for in the regular season.”

OFFENSE

Yeagley (202-69) begins his 24th season as Raiders head coach with five starters returning to run the spread offense.

The other returnees are lineman Anthony Czap and receivers Chris Brooks and Jake Gehring.

“Gehring just makes plays in traffic, a big play-maker,” Allegretto said. “Chris, I’ve been throwing to him since seventh grade. I know what he’s going to do and he know what I’m going to do.”

Yeagley said Allegretto “is battle-tested, he’s ready to go. He had a great year last year — he threw for almost 2,000 yards.

“And’s he’s gotten even better.”

Yeagley said Richard Ferenchak, Colin McCabe, Cade Holmes, Isaac Less, Noah Cannon, Jacob Brooks and Michael Lally will contend for line positions.

Anthony DeLucia, Patrick McCabe, Luke Blasko and Dylan Dominguez will compete to start at running back. Other contenders for wide receivers are Corey Kougher, Sean Manning, Greg Rhoton, Ian Toy, Luke Crumbacher and Trey Pancake.

“We’re a little under-sized up front,” said Rocco DeLucia, adding that the skill players have speed. “Isaac, Chris, Dylan have speed and agility. Knowing that we have those guys who can save us week in and week out is going to help a lot.”

DEFENSE

Gehring and Czap are returning starters on the line.

Three linebackers return — Anthony DeLucia, McCabe and Manning.

Coming back to the secondary are Blasko, Pancake and Dominguez.

Yeagley says the Raiders’ experience is the key to competing against the bigger schools in the new league.

“In a good league like this, we’re going to have to play [strong] defense,” Yeagley said. “That’s a necessity.

“We have a lot of kids who had a lot of playing time [last fall],” Yeagley said. “They are game ready.”

SPECIAL TEAMS

Logan Weaver and Pancake return as placekickers, and Pancake will handle punting, perhaps with Michael Patrone.

“Our kickers are all back from last year,” Yeagley said. “We made some mistakes in our kicking game last year but they’ve gotten better.”

The Raiders will open the season against archrival Springfield and Allegretto expects a tough test.

“They just keep getting better and better,” Allegretto said of the Tigers. “Just because they are a smaller school doesn’t mean that they aren’t as good.”

OUTLOOK

Joining a league that has Poland, Struthers, Hubbard and Lakeview will challenge the Raiders.

“It’s going to take us some time to learn to compete at that level,” Yeagley said. “It’s going to be interesting — we’re going to have to learn on the fly.”

Because the Raiders have never played any of their new league opponents, Allegretto said this year’s team, like the last two, has mysteries to solve.

“These are all teams we haven’t played before,” said Allegretto who passed for 1,958 yards in 2018.

Raiders center Rocco DeLucia said “When you are an independent you don’t know how good [in advance an opponent is]. When you are in a league, you know, the competition is pretty consistent.”

Yeagley said the speed of their new league rivals provides a big change.

“We’re going to have to adjust to that speed,” Yeagley said. “As an independent, we tried to schedule up to prepare us for this league.”

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