West Shore Conference
By Ryan Kaczmarski
The Rocky River High School football team took its lumps with a young team last season, finishing with an overall record of 4-6 (2-4 in the West Shore Conference). This season, seventh-year head coach Rick Adams has 18 returning lettermen who could propel the Pirates to the last-ever West Shore Conference title.
Included in that long list of returners are 12 returning starters, including senior quarterback Matt Lowry (5-8, 175), senior wide receiver and defensive back Patrick Connors (5-10, 160), senior center and defensive tackle Cam Kysela (6-0, 280), senior wide receiver and defensive back Cam Heider (5-9, 160), senior linebacker and running back Jimi Smith (5-8, 190), senior running back and outside linebacker Travis Smith (5-9, 185), senior linebacker Nick Rodgers (5-10, 185), junior lineman Muji Hakizimana (6-0, 280), junior wide receiver and free safety Evan Nugent (6-1, 175), junior wide receiver and strong safety Eric Jones (6-0, 180), junior lineman Collin Shirley (6-0, 240) and junior offensive tackle and linebacker Dane Shirley (6-0, 225).
“Matt Lowry is the best player in the conference,” Adams said. “Everybody will be gunning for him. Watching him will be worth the price of admission.
“Patrick Connors has great speed and excellent route running abilities, and we are expecting a huge year from him. We are expecting Travis Smith to be a 1,000-yard rusher this year, too.”
Other returners include seniors David Cox, Steve Pappadakes, Rei Basho and Brandon Bouchaya; and juniors Corey Horvath, and Brian Lowry.
The Pirates’ base offense will again be the spread, with three wide-outs and a running back, while the defense will mainly be in the 3-4 formation.
“We have a lot of experience and skill coming back this year,” Adams said. “We need to focus on the end result, not individual stats. Last year we put up great numbers, but went 4-6. So, we need to keep our eyes on the prize.
“We had a good summer offseason program. The team worked hard and we got a lot accomplished.”
According to Adams, tomorrow’s game against Fairview starts off a tough schedule which includes games against perennial favorite Avon, then Westlake, Midview and North Ridgeville, with its star running back DeMario McCall.
“Our motto this year is ‘One goal,’ which means to be playing in Columbus in December,” Adams concluded.