A Page -- Aug. 3, 2011

Rangers have risen to league heights under Riesen; Ridgeville should again be contenders in seventh year of WSC football

By Norm Weber

Student/Athlete-Cleveland Editor


NORTH RIDGEVILLE – Now in his fourth decade in and on-off-and-on-again relationship as the head coach of North Ridgeville football, Jeff Riesen more than just about anyone knows what makes Student/Athletes in this county-line city tick.

That’s exactly why Ridgeville administrators brought him back again a few years ago to kick start a program that has also been on again, off again, on again, etc.

The Rangers had a winning season in 2010 at 6-4, which was fairly acceptable but certainly did not reflect the best record the Rangers have posted in the past since years, the lifetime length of the West Shore Conference.

Now about to begin its seventh season as a league, the WSG has undergone its first change as the two Fs – Fairview and Firelands – have left the league and been replaced by Lakewood and Elyria Catholic. Now instead of two Fs, the league now has two teams nicknamed the Rangers – Lakewood and Ridgeville.

It also might be the first league in the Cleveland area to have both schools of the public school and Catholic school variety since the Senate had St. Ignatius and Holy Name in the West Senate and Benedictine and Cathedral Latin in the East Senate until the early 1970s.

Also, off again and on again for North Ridgeville, is school size, and this season the Rangers are back up to Division I for football. The Rangers join them as the only two in D-I in football.

Season Preview

In addition to a long-lasting familiarity with the families and S/As of Ridgeville, Riesen, with two masters’ degrees, is the ideal guy to have in the major decision making in and management of a program in a sport the size of football.

“We have Team Unity and is that has grown the guys have continued in working hard together,” Riesen said. “Our No. 1 goal is to be the best team ‘WE’ can be in 2011, and simply continue the winning tradition.”

Since Riesen has returned, the Rangers have had nothing but winning seasons with a combined record of 28-12: (2007 Record W-7, L3;  2008 Record W-6-L-4;  2009(W-8 L2 Conf. Champions-State Play-offs; 2010 Record W-7, L-3).

Also in an independent game, the Rangers have added Garfield Heights, which for a number of decades was in the Lake Erie League with Lakewood and also in the east part of the WSC’s Rangers in the Northeast Ohio Conference.

Moreover, Ridgeville has acquired another new opponent by going to the Holiday Lakes area to get Willard, which will also be a non-conference affair.

“I do feel we have enough returning starters as well as young, talented players to compete in our WSC conference,” said Riesen.

The key returning players (All Starters) are Nick Hauck – Center,  Mitch Bugala – Tackle/D.Line,  Christian Watkins – WR/DB,  David Bowden -- TB,  Eric Knoblauch -- D. Line,  David Riley -- LB,  Jacob Lavelle -- WR/DB, P.J. Bunevich -- DB/QB,  Matt Dawson  Lb’er/TE, and Josh Hudson -- WR/DB.

Among the promising newcomers are Paul Sonego -- FB/D.Line,  Matt Alewine -- O.Line/D.Line,  Isaac Reed -- D.Back/RB,  Zack Bowden -- WR/DB,  Anthony Petsas -- O.Line,  and Derek Mills -- FB/Lb’er.

Rocky River, Avon and North Ridgeville have dominated the league during the first six campaigns and this year all three should again be at the least in the mix near the top.

Former Mount Union Running Back Nate Kmic Shines in Finnish Debut But Team Falls

Former Mount Union running back and current assistant coach Nate Kmic (Delta/Delta) rushed for 135 yards and scored three touchdowns for the Lappeenranta Rajaritarit in a 48-45 loss Friday to the Porvoo Butchers during a Finnish Maple League contest.

Kmic's overseas professional debut included three catches for 35 yards and one of his touchdowns. He signed with Lappeenranta after being named Most Valuable Player of Team USA's gold-medal finish in the 2011 IFAF Senior World Championship in Austria earlier this month. Lappeenranta has two more regular season games remaining before the Finnish playoffs.

Kmic scored his team's first touchdown on an 86-yard kickoff return with 7:15 left in the first quarter to even the score at 7-7. He added a 40-yard touchdown run with 3:03 left in the third quarter and a 7-yard scoring pass with 37 seconds left that put the Rajaritarit (translated as Border Knights) on top, 45-41.

Lappeenranta kicked onside after taking the late lead because the Rajaritarit lost to the Butchers by 7 earlier in the season, and the head-to-head matchup determined home field advantage in the playoffs. The Butchers recovered, taking over at the Lappeenranta 30 after a penalty, then retook the lead with a 29-yard pass and a short TD run with 27 seconds remaining.

Kmic is the NCAA's all-time leading rusher with 8,074 yards. The three-time All-American also holds all-division college football records for all-purpose yards (9,651), career points (780), career touchdowns (130), touchdowns in a season (44 in 2008), points in a season (264 in 2008). The 2005 Stagg Bowl MVP was part of three National Championship teams at Mount Union (2005, 2006, 2008) and scored a touchdown in 51 of his 56 career games and had rushed over a 100 yards in 36 different games.



















Case Reserve soccer hoping to build upon back-to-back nine-win seasons

CLEVELAND (U District) Building off of back-to-back nine-win seasons, the 2011 Case Western Reserve University women's soccer team features 18 letterwinners and 11 returning starters as the squad aims to earn the first University Athletic Association Championship and NCAA Tournament berth in program history. 

Last season, the Spartans finished at 9-8-1 overall and were ranked as high as seventh in the NCAA Great Lakes Region. The team also produced five All-UAA selections while facing a competitive schedule that featured four top-25 opponents.

"Returning such a large portion of the team led to an extremely purposeful and productive spring season," said fifth-year head coach Tiffany Crooks. "The spring essentially began our preseason and laid the foundation for the fall.  This group is very ready to raise the bar.  They want to contend for a UAA championship and fight for an NCAA tournament bid." 

All five of Case's All-UAA selections are back, including three second-teamers in junior midfielders Deena Levey (Columbus, Ohio/Bexley) andKendra Simmons (Medina, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) and senior defenderKristina Vaci (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor).

Also back are a pair of honorable mention All-UAA performers in senior goalkeeper Anna Kennedy (Evanston, Ill./Evanston) and sophomore forward Leah Levey (Columbus, Ohio/Bexley).

Deena Levey, also an honorable mention All-UAA pick in 2009, finished third on the team with 11 points on four goals and three assists. She also tallied a pair of game-winners. Leah Levey recorded six goals and an assist with a team-high three game-winners as a freshman.

"The Levey sisters are both key players," noted Crooks.  "Deena has great vision and is one of our strongest tactical players, as well as being one of our most technical players.  She's incredibly versatile and can play in many positions on the field.  One of the keys to our success this year will be putting her in a position to be a playmaker in each game.  Leah is equally strong and very comfortable with the ball at her foot and going at players.  I expect her to have an even stronger season now that she has a year of college and a year of soccer behind her.  The greatest thing about Deena and Leah is how they make each other better.  They have a very healthy sense of competition and are each other's greatest supporter all at the same time."

Simmons was the team-leader with 18 points and eight goals in 2010.

2011 Spartan Women’s Soccer Preview

"Kendra (Simmons) had a great sophomore year," said Crooks. "She is strong in the air and was especially dangerous on set pieces.  I expect her to be an even greater offensive threat this year driving out of the midfield and getting more scoring opportunities in the run. She's also one of the most competitive players on the team."

Vaci helped lead the defense to eight shutouts en route to a second-straight All-UAA season.

"Vaci is one of the best individual defenders I have coached," said Crooks. "She's very reliable in the back and has learned to take chances getting forward and has become a critical piece of our attack."

Kennedy, a two-time All-UAA pick, posted a 6-6 record with 48 saves, five shutouts and a 0.86 goals against average.

"Anna has consistently been one of our most prepared players coming into each season," noted Crooks.  "She loves to work hard and has spent this summer training at Northwestern University alongside Division I goalkeepers.  She loves to compete and is constantly looking to improve.  She's a very strong goalkeeper and has the ability to make game-changing saves.  She'll also be looked upon for her leadership as she was voted captain in the spring.  Her teammates respect and trust her a great deal."

Crooks' squad also returns six more starters from last year – three up front and three on the backline.

"It's a great luxury to return such a high number of quality players," noted Crooks. "The experience factor alone is tremendous.  Everyone will be a year older, a year stronger and a year hungrier."

Senior forward Rebecca Vaughan (Parma, Ohio/Normandy) as well as junior midfielders Devyn Lee(Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa./State College) and Erica Sackett (Independence, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) are all back for the Spartan offensive attack.

Vaughan was third on the team with 11 points on four goals and three assists. Lee tallied two goals, including a game-winner, and five assists. Sackett scored a game-winner and led the Spartans with seven assists.

Returning to the backline are seniors Sammy Sarett (Huntersville, N.C./Cannon) and Laura Gabster(Mount Laurel, N.J./Bishop Eustace) and junior Maeve Goede (Westlake, Ohio/Westlake). The trio played in every game last year with 17, 16 and 17 starts, respectively.

Additional letterwinners that saw significant time last year are junior forward Ashley Debeljak (Beachwood, Ohio/Beachwood), junior midfielder/forwardAlyssa Lauzau (Pickerington, Ohio/Bishop Hartley) and sophomore midfielder Rachel Bourque (Newton, N.H./Central Catholic).

Debeljak scored a goal in 17 games and five starts. Bourque played in all 18 games with three starts and totaled five points on two goals and an assist. Lauzau played in each contest for the defense.

Crooks also expects major contribution from senior midfielder Alexandra Litofsky (Columbia, Mo./Rock Bridge) and sophomore defender Katie Chapin (Basking Ridge, N.J./Villa Walsh Academy). Litofsky was an All-UAA performer with two goals as a sophomore in 2009, but she missed all of last season due to injury. Chapin played in nine matches as a freshman and made significant strides during spring practice.

Even with a roster full of experienced players, Crooks is also looking forward to working the Spartan freshman class into the mix.

"I expect our freshmen to come in and compete right away," said Crooks. "There are some very strong players in this group and I expect them to contribute on the field very early.  Preseason will be intensely competitive with players battling from day one.  I expect us to be deeper than we've ever been."

The Spartans open the season on Thursday, September 1 at Westminster College (Pa.) at 5:00 p.m. The team's home-opener is set for Wednesday, Sept. 7 versus Denison University at 7:30 p.m. at Case Field and the ultra-competitive UAA schedule opens on Saturday, October 1 at New York University. In addition to Denison (2010 Elite Eight participant), Case's non-conference slate features Otterbein University (2010 Final Four participant) and the College of Wooster (North Coast Athletic Conference Regular Season Champions).

"The UAA is arguably the best women's soccer conference in the country," noted Crooks. "Last year, five of the eight teams made it to the NCAA postseason, with Emory advancing to the Elite Eight.  Every team has a large number of quality returnees and has added more impact players through recruiting. I expect every single team in this conference to be competing for a championship. 

Our non-conference schedule is very challenging, and we are excited to have home games with top-tier competition like Otterbein, Denison and Wooster.  There are no easy games on the 2011 schedule.  Every game will be a challenge and we'd have it no other way."

College/HS S/As welcome to run in Mastick races; several Cleveland Student/Athletes already signed up

In an effort to preserve prize money at the Mastick race, this years race is still wide open, and while nobody sets out to beat up on high school runners, it is easy money. For 2012, Prize Money will either be increased or done away with.
The past few years, a majority of the money, while not a big purse for winners, has been defered by athletes with HS or NCAA time left. 
"Being away from the racing scene for almost 3 years has left me out of the loop and out of contact with many of the area's top studs," said long-time Cleveland road runner John Nakel. "Neither 2011 winner is entered as of yet."

Entry deadline is Wednesday at midnight. All entries must be postmarked by 11:59 P.M. Wednesday.
Entry forms are available on the below link.  They can call John's cell with any questions.
440-476-0018 (cell)

Gilmour Academy has several coaching openings 

Gilmour Academy has the following head coaching positions available:
Middle School volleyball
Middle School coed soccer
Middle School boys basketball
Middle School girls basketball
Freshmen boys basketball
Varsity boys lacrosse
Varsity girls lacrosse
Interested applicants should send a resume to athletic director Kristy Booher at booherk@gilmour.org