They have one of the best golfers in the conference on their team.
As for the rest of the Blue Devils? Let’s just say there will be quite a learning curve.
That’s just fine with Jon Shomo. The Tallmadge 17th-year head boys golf coach is much more focused on how his players perform when they’re wearing more clothing and the leaves are no longer green.
"We are obviously going to struggle a bit this season due to lack of varsity experience," said Shomo, who has led the Blue Devils to a 109-57 record and five league championships during his tenure. "We strive to be much better in late September than we are today."
Shomo has been around the block long enough to understand how these situations work. He has seen many quality golfers come and go.
Despite such a cold, hard fact, Tallmadge has always managed to exceed expectations. Why should that change now?
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a gifted junior on your side. Junior Darin Hudak hopes to take his game to another level after reaching Division I district play last fall.
Does Hudak have plans for a trip to Columbus? Absolutely. Playing in the state tournament is the ultimate goal for the talented teenager, who has been the team’s top golfer ever since he joined the Blue Devils.
But if Shomo has his way, he’ll be determined to erase such thoughts from his top player’s mind.
"It’s the only step he has not yet made as an individual," Shomo said. "I really want him to focus on one day and one shot at a time. That’s how you succeed in this sport."
Hudak earned first-team American Conference and second-team All-Northeast Ohio District recognition.
He had a nine-hole scoring average of 39 and shot a score of 78 at last season’s sectional and district tournaments.
The good news is, Hudak had some talented players who pushed him to excel last fall. The Blue Devils finished 6-4 overall and 2-4 in the Suburban League American Conference in 2018.
The not so good news?
Tallmadge lost six quality seniors to graduation. They are Noah Bowser, who was the team’s medalist a few times in 2018, Luke Caruso, Brandon Gray, Jake Reifsnyder, Liam Tokash and Nate Zappola.
Therefore, other than Hudak, the Blue Devils’ varsity team will feature an abundance of new faces.
Those new faces are junior Christian Rutan; sophomores Logan Phillips, Isaiah Ulrich, Ethan Shahan, Casen Frisbee and Nathan Boyd; and freshmen Caleb Fairhurst, Ty Kester and Drew Dalton.
Revere also was devastated by graduation, according to Shomo. However, the conference will be as formidable as ever.
"The American Conference saw many quality golfers graduate," Shomo said. "Highland lost some good players, but should reload. Roosevelt will challenge for the title, as well. Aurora and Barberton should be OK. Copley, Revere and us will be looking to get better as we go."
The Suburban League will have a new look this season. Instead of playing preseason and postseason tournaments, along with six conference matches during the regular season, Suburban League teams from both conferences will play in four tournaments to accumulate points.
"I have mixed feelings," Shomo said. "My problem with it is, instead of deciding league champs and individual honors over 90 holes, we are now going to do it over 72 holes. Also, if one tournament is on the wrong day and we get weather, it would be virtually impossible to reschedule a 15-team event anywhere.
"The positives are that we can get more tournament experience and that these courses are where Suburban League teams play their sectional or district tournaments, so it gets us on those courses once more."
The junior varsity team will be led by Jon Karnuth, who enters his ninth season with the team.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.