Seniors ready for Arvin Classic

After just one year leading the Liberty High School football program, Brian Jones announced he was stepping down on June 5. But the 26-year old guarantees that he’ll be back on a field coaching football sometime, somewhere.

Actually, it’ll be tonight at 7 p.m. in Girard’s Arrowhead Stadium.

Jones is coaching the Trumbull County All-Stars in the annual Jack Arvin Classic sponsored by the Mahoning Valley Coaches Association.

“It’s definitely going to be special,” Jones said. “We’ve had eight strong practices with the guys and they want to win. They really gelled together fast and it’s a very talented team. They’re going to be playing to win it.”

The Leopards have five representatives in Cody BuCher, Tyler Evans, John Helms, Tyrell Jethrow and Sherron Walls.

Bound for Clarion to play football, Walls scored 25 touchdowns in his senior year and ran for close to 1,900 yards. BuCher and Evans are off to the Army, Helms will play at Defiance and Jethrow plans to attend Akron.

Liberty broke an 18-game losing streak in 2013 and won the All-American Conference, National Division, title with a 9-3 record.

“It was a special season,” Jones said. “I really felt like they were my kids. They really bought into what we were trying to do and it paid off with a successful run.”

Niles’ Stefan Yuhas, Howland’s Eric Lockney, Hubbard’s Brandon Harb and McDonald’s Christian Rusinowski will rotate at quarterback with Lakeview’s Elijah Henderson and Drew Bell as inviting targets at wideout. On defense, Girard’s Brandon Martuccio and Casey Porter of Mineral Ridge will anchor the defense.

“We have some playmakers,” Jones said. “And we’re going to get everyone some reps.”

Lowellvile head coach Jeff D’Altorio also plans to get in every player from the Mahoning-Columbiana squad. He, too, was part of a drastic regular season turnaround.

The Rockets went 1-9 in 2011 and improved to 4-6 in 2013. They upset Columbiana and Southern and just lost four games by seven points or less.

“We went from last place to second place in the Inter-Tri County League Lower Tier,” the second-year coach said. “It really was remarkable and if we stay injury-free, we’ll definitely be riding that momentum into the fall.”

D’Altorio is joined by his Lowellville players Geno Moore, Drew McLaughlin and Ryan Previtte. The Mahoning team boasts several quick and powerful running backs as Cardinal Mooney’s Justus Ellis-Moore, Struthers’ David Stewart and Youngstown Christian’s Ryan Grier all went for well over 1,000 yards on the season.

“We’re going to get the ball around,” D’Altorio said. “We haven’t gone easy on them just because it’s the summer. We’re using sandbags, jump ropes, running hard sprints and they’re doing great.”

Jones is assisted by Liberty coaches Dave Davis, Marc Bjelac, Jerron Jenkins and Joe Simon, along with Girard’s John Foster. Tim McGlynn, Dave Hodge, Dennis Peeples, John Falconi and Tab Greenly, all assistants for Lowellville, will be alongside D’Altorio. Former Rockets assistant, Joe McConnell, will also coach in the game before he joins the coaching staff at LaBrae in the fall.