Cuyahoga Falls football looks to keep improving on solid base

Roger Gordon
Cuyahoga Falls running back Isaiah Campbell looks for running room during a game against Hudson last season.

The Cuyahoga Falls football team finished with a 2-8 record last season.

That mark may have been a bit deceiving, however, because the Black Tigers lost a number of very close games to Suburban League National Conference rivals.

“We were a handful of plays away from being a .500 team,” fourth-year head coach Shane Parker said. “We missed an extra point at the end of one game, losing 21-20 to Twinsburg. We lost a close one to Nordonia. We had an opportunity to beat North Royalton too.”

“This year, we have a good mix of veterans and new guys,” said Parker, whose team finished 0-7 in the National Conference a year ago.

The Black Tigers’ starting quarterback will be junior Tyler Harris.

“Tyler has a unique skill set,” said Parker. “He’s a good leader and has a good work ethic and ability. I think we can be successful with him calling the shots back there. He has a good arm and is athletic too. He’s matured quite a bit from last year to this year both physically and mentally and has grown up quite a bit.”

Parker said that the running back position will be by committee. Getting most of the carries will be seniors Elijah-Walter Hicks, Isaiah Campbell and Isaac Puchajda. Junior Victor Jackson will be in the mix as well.

“They’re all fairly balanced in regard to speed, athleticism, size and what they’re bringing to the table,” Parker said. “No matter who’s back there, I think we should be in good shape. They’re all fairly experienced backs. Isaac will be a fullback, and the other three will play tailback.”

The wide receiver position will be manned by seniors Christian Casto, Kobe Brown, Tyler Robinson and Xavier Beasley and juniors Jayden Hillier and Isaiah Little.

“Our receivers all have speed and explosiveness,” said the coach. “They have some good size and aren’t afraid to block. They’re all hard workers, too. Christian already has one or two offers from some Division II schools.”

Senior Jared Andrews will be the starting tight end. Junior Daniel Krites will spell him when needed.

The offensive line will be anchored by senior David Pask and juniors Logan Baker, Zak Dalton and Nick Lambis. In the mix also are sophomores Jacob Sanford, Tristan Ohler and Aiden Gibbons.

“Our offensive line is going to be tough to compete with,” Parker said. “They’re all really strong, physical, hard-nosed kids who kind of play with a chip on their shoulder. They’re very physical and never back down. They know their names aren’t going in the papers after games, but they take pride in what they do.”

Defensively, Cuyahoga Falls will be balanced.

“We’ll have some playmakers on all three levels,” said Parker.

Andrews will be the heart of the defense at linebacker. Playing alongside him will be Hicks, Brown, Harris and senior Johnny Cheek.

“Jared is going to kind of be the glue that keeps everything together,” the coach said.

The defensive backs will be Casto, Campbell, Beasley, senior Muhammad Ahmad, junior Victor Jackson and sophomore Vonte Jackson.

“We’ve got some guys who are athletic and some guys who are going to be able to run, some ballhawk type players who are motivated and want to make some big plays on that side of the ball,” said Parker. “I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do under the lights.”

Pask, Dalton, Lambis, Gibbons, Baker and junior Micah Altizer will man the defensive line.

“We’ve got guys who aren’t afraid to pin their ears back and get after the opposing quarterback, who I think are going to help us be very sound against the pass and be stout against the run," Parker said. "We’ve got a talented group of hard-working, young men who are hungry and motivated. I’m looking forward to big things from them.”

According to the coach, the National Conference will be competitive as usual. He thinks his team is up to the task, though.

“Every single team we play is tough,” he said. “They prove that year in and year out. We want to get some wins in the conference and continue our family atmosphere that we have had the last few years. I know it’s kind of a cliché term in the sport of football, but it’s something that we take very seriously. We take a very selfless attitude to our approach. I feel a .500 season is certainly not out of the realm for us.”

Cuyahoga Falls was scheduled to open its season Sept. 4 vs. Copley.