by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Last year, the Streetsboro football team qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 1992.
But this is a whole new year and it's time to forget about the past, right?
Wrong says Streetsboro's head coach John Arlesic, who enters his 10th year with the Rockets.
"We want to feed off our successful season last year," he said. "Our numbers are up and we had a very energetic and successful off-season. We return a great deal of players with a lot of experience."
Arlesic doesn't think his team will fade away after its magical 2012 season.
"For the really great programs, it's all about tradition," he said. "It's about carrying on a legacy. When I came here 10 years ago, it was about building a program for longevity and not just a one-hit wonder."
Streetsboro finished 7-4 in 2012 after losing a 48-35 decision to Youngstown Liberty in the Division IV Region 13 quarterfinal game. The Rockets also finished 4-3 in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division.
But Streetsboro won't have to worry about the Metro Division any more.
The Rockets return to the County Division after a two-year hiatus.
Since Streetsboro held its own in the bigger-school Metro Division the last two years, it's safe to say the Rockets should be a force in the County Division?
Not necessarily, says Arlesic, who is 43-48 at Streetsboro.
"I don't think it really makes a difference," he said. "This conference has sent multiple teams to the state playoffs."
If the Rockets are going to return to the playoffs, they will have to do so without the services of eight graduating seniors. The biggest loss was All-Ohio defensive back/running back Dorian Williams, a Princeton University (N.J.) recruit.
Despite the loss of Williams, Streetsboro should have plenty of speed in the backfield. And of course, another Williams will get a chance to carry the ball.
Junior Prince Franklin and sophomore Johnathan Williams, two state qualifying 800-meter relay standouts, will have plenty of chances to show off their wheels.
"We have a good mix of size and speed," Arlesic said. "There is a difference between football speed and track speed.
'Dorian did a great job as a leader with Prince and Johnathan. They really absorbed Dorian's leadership abilities."
The Rockets plan to run the pistol formation with two quarterbacks.
Expected to take snaps behind center for the Rockets are sophomores Jerry Judd and Avery VanReeth.
Junior Titus Fredd and sophomore Ethan Flick are expected to see plenty of action at the fullback spot.
Another 800-meter relay standout, senior Devin Rencher, will get plenty of looks from his quarterbacks.
Other receivers include seniors Trey Close and Austin Szemacs, junior Dylan Keba and freshman Dakari Carter. T
he tight ends are seniors Kyle Woods and Chad Thompson.
The skill players will be protected by three seniors and two juniors.
Six-foot-4, 295-pound senior Nick Fazio is expected to start at left tackle and Jacob Armbrecht (6-0, 210) plans to be the starting left guard.
Rounding out the starting linemen are senior center Joey Andrasik (5-10, 210), junior right guard Tyler Rowland (5-10, 205) and junior right tackle Thomas Benson (6-4, 220).
Other linemen include senior Landon Robinette (5-9, 240), juniors Seth Reynolds (6-0, 275) and Chuckie Rhome (5-10, 210) and sophomore Ryan Zampounis (5-10, 250).
On defense, Streetsboro plans to run a 3-4 formation.
Fazio, Andrasik, Rowland, Robinette are expected to contribute at the tackle positions, along with sophomore Veshaun Glover. The defensive ends feature Thompson, Woods, Williams and Benson.
The linebackers feature projected starters Armbrecht, Fredd, junior Josh Reyes and sophomore Jeremy Debolt.
A plethora of defensive backs hope to cause havoc for opposing offenses.
The safeties include Flick, VanReeth and Judd. Rencher, Franklin, Close and Carter are expected to see time at the cornerback positions.
Junior Spencer Deevers returns as the team's starting placekicker. Reyes is expected to be the team's punter and Rencher, Franklin, Williams and Carter are expected to return kicks and punts. The long snappers are Andrasik and sophomore Bobby Dixon.
"We have some potential freshmen and sophomores who will get a chance to be on the field," he said.
Arlesic's staff includes John Schumm (co-offensive coordinator, offensive line, TNT); Chris Scisciani (offensive coordinator, quarterbacks, defensive ends); Chris Clift (offensive line, linebackers, co-defensive coordinator); Paul Harris (wide receivers, defensive backs); Anthony Yanulaitis (wide receivers); Jim Lovejoy (running backs, defensive ends, special teams coordinator); and volunteer coaches Frank Diehl and Brian Atkinson.
Arlesic doesn't believe his team will need to wait another 20 years to see another 11th game in its future.
"We want to be a like a Mogadore or an Aurora," he said. "Those teams have been playoff teams for awhile.
"We want to take that next step and become a prominent program year in and year out."
But the coach knows the road will be challenging even though the Rockets are back in the smaller-school division.
"I have a lot of respect for those schools," Arlesic said. "Schools like Southeast, Mogadore and Woodridge have been to the playoffs. We still have our crossover game with Kent [Roosevelt].
"I don't care which division you are. There's no place to hide. The size of your school has nothing to do with how good your football program is."
Arlesic is thrilled about his talented underclassmen, but they will have to mature quickly.
"We may have seven or eight sophomores on the field," he said. "That lack of experience is always a concern."
During a recent scrimmage, Streetsboro showed plenty of promise. The Rockets also showed signs of vulnerability.
"I wouldn't say we had a great scrimmage, but it wasn't a bad scrimmage," Arlesic said. "We found out some things about ourselves. I was proud of the way the guys went out there and competed. It was a good stepping stone for the 2013 season."
Streetsboro is scheduled to visit Champion in its season opener Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.