EAST LIVERPOOL - First-year head coach Josh Ludwig admits that he is very anxious as the East Liverpool Potters get ready to host the Carrollton Warriors Friday night at Patterson Field. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
"I am very anxious. I hope that what we've worked on all summer works for us," said Ludwig, who graduated from East Liverpool in 2000. "This is my first game as head coach at East Liverpool. 'Potter Blue' runs through my veins. I love Patterson Field. It holds so many great memories for me."
One player that should help relieve Ludwig's anxiety is three-year letterwinner Kade Reynolds. A starter at quarterback the past two years, Reynolds has been moved to tailback this season.
"Kade is our leader," Ludwig said. "The majority of the time he will be the best athlete on the field on both sides of the ball. We want to be able to get the ball to Kade in a variety of situations."
Taking over at quarterback is sophomore Austin Mayfield. In football terminology, Mayfield possesses "a gun" for an arm. He can throw both short and long with a deft touch on the ball.
"We have all the confidence in the world in Austin," Ludwig said. "He may be a sophomore, but he has a man's body. The sky's the limit for what he can accomplish here at East Liverpool."
The offensive front that is charged with the responsibilities of giving Mayfield time to throw and opening holes for the running backs sports a mixture of size and experience.
Two-year letterwinners Dalton Cornman, Ryan Lilly and Jared Yanik are stalwarts up front. Sophomores Zach Gill and Ryan Tanner fill out the starting front. Dillan Reynolds opens at fullback. Mayfield has a number of talented receivers to choose from including both of the Reynolds, tight end Austyn Dozier and wide receivers Aaron Bombich, Ryan Bombich, Raeqwon Eilam, Jason Kutzner and Austin Vranesevich.
The Potters' three scrimmages enabled David Locke the time to recover from a wrist injury and to break into the starting lineup at right defensive end.
"David had been our leader in the weight room throughout the offseason," Ludwig said. "But then, he hurt his wrist and missed some time. He has really come on over the course of the three scrimmages. He's ready to go."
Sophomore Freddie Plum will man the other end spot with Nick Cotter and Cornman inside of them at the tackle posts.
DeShawn Golding and Mayfield will hold down the outside linebacking spots with Dillan Reynolds and Dozier on the inside. Ryan Bombich and Eilam will man the cornerback spots with Kade Reynolds at safety.
Junior lineman Charles Iacobucci will miss the Carrollton game with a knee injury that he suffered early in the Aug. 22 scrimmage versus Crestview.
"We are hoping to get Charles back quickly. He's a quality young man," Ludwig said. "We are just waiting to see what the MRI shows."
Carrollton defeated the Potters 24-6 at Carrollton. Kade Reynolds completed 6 of 13 aerials for 111 yards for the Potters. Zack English rushed for 68 yards on eight carries.
Tyler Dodd paced Carrollton with 107 yards rushing on 10 tries. Zane Deitz connected on 10 of 14 passes for 191 yards. He also picked up 53 yards rushing.
The Warriors went 6-4 in 2013 under coach Eric McCort. With Deitz at the controls, Carrollton runs a spread offense. Defensively, they play a 3-4.
"Altogether, Carrollton returns a total of 10 starters," Ludwig said. "They are senior heavy. They have a good offensive line that they run behind. Deitz is a dual-threat quarterback. He can run the ball and also throw it. Tyler Dodd is one of the better players in the area."