Saturday, February 17, 2018

Wolverines Start New Era with Strong Seniors
August 23, 2017 by Jamie Ward | No Comments

“Experience is definitely the best teacher.” - Jax Shenkel

Brian Craemer is no stranger to Geauga County or the Chagrin Valley Conference. The 2004 Berkshire graduate coached at Newbury, NDCL and Kenston as an assistant before leading Harvey the past two seasons.

Brian Craemer is no stranger to Geauga County or the Chagrin Valley Conference. The 2004 Berkshire graduate coached at Newbury, NDCL and Kenston as an assistant before leading Harvey the past two seasons.

He is now teaching at West Geauga High School, replacing longtime staple Lou Cirino, a West Geauga institution who left for Strongsville in the offseason.

“It’s been good,” Craemer said. “I’ve been blessed to have a lot of parents, and the administrative team, that have made this transition as easy as possible.”

The team was implementing a new offense and defense in the preseason. Craemer said he is happy with the progress over the past four months. The players were making the adjustment.

A New System on Offense

The Wolverines want to run a no-huddle shotgun offense but still focus on running the football and controlling the game clock. The team will run multiple formations and packages.

Craemer admires the offense his rival Mark Iammarino has run at Chagrin Falls, and will implement some of those motion principles.

Jax Shenkel, a senior, returns as the starting QB. Shenkel threw for over 1,000 yards last season and 10 touchdowns as the team’s every-game starter. He also ran for seven. Shenkel will have a chance to run the football this year in the team’s spread offense.

“Experience is definitely the best teacher,” Shenkel said of his comfort level this season. “You know everything to expect.”

“He’s going to do great things in this offense,” Craemer said.

Senior Michael Osters will be the team’s feature back. He said the team is working hard in the preseason.

“I’m just looking to help my team, whether it’s catching the ball, or blocking,” Osters said. “We pass a lot, we run a lot. I’m looking forward to it.”

Senior Christian Dibra also returns as a starting runningback.

Frank DiPaola (8 catches for 175 yards and 1 touchdown last season) will be the team’s tight end again this season.

A.J. Coneglio and Klevi Rybak are the team’s wide receivers.

The offensive line will be anchored by senior Nathaniel “Big Cat” Grabinski at center. Matt and Shaun Podojil, Joe Camino and Noah Ickes also return to the line. Craemer thinks this line has a lot of talent.

Returning Starters a Strength

Last season, the Wolverine defense was its strong point. The unit held opponents to seven points or less four times, and only gave up an average of 17 points per game.

A strong core return on defense, led by juniors Gino Fornaro, Matt Stewart, Michael Lyman and Bobby Jakubs.

The team’s base will be a 4-3.

“We came into this season open-minded with the chance to change things up,” said Stewart, the team’s starting middle linebacker. “We are looking forward to this year because we have a lot of guys coming back. We all work hard, and we’re all friends. So it’s good this team has bonded.”

Ickes will start on both lines.

“We have experience from last year because so many of us are returning starters,” Ickes said. “We all have good chemistry together.”

Stewart thinks the defense will be a team strength.

Gabe Molnar and Matt Podojil are the team’s starting defensive ends. Anthony Leonard and David Kless are both seniors in the center of the defensive line.

The secondary will be led by Lyman and include Drew Bennett, Preston Melkerson and Tyler Hackelman.

Extra Points

• West G has added two Geauga County schools to its non-conference in Kenston (Week 3) and NDCL (Week 2). “That will be fun,” Craemer said. The Wolverines now play the four biggest Geauga County high schools this season.

• After a long losing streak, the Wolverines have beaten Chagrin Falls the last two seasons — a streak that means a lot to West Geauga.

• Because of the OHSAA competitive balance rules, the Wolverines drop to Division IV, Region 13.

• Nathanial Grabinski and Jax Shenkel pace the Wolverines the classroom with 4.4 grade point averages. Matt Steward, Bobby Jakubs and Michael Osters are all over 4.0, as well.


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