Several 2014 North Olmsted High School senior standouts will follow the emotions of football’s strong traditions when they continue their gridiron careers at the college level in 2014.
Quarterback Brad Novak and center Beau Bilinsky will attend and play together at Mercyhurst University, a Division II school in Pennsylvania. In addition, tackle Jeff Rotheram will be on the field for Youngstown State University. The trio revealed their plans on a snowy national signing day Feb. 5. In addition, three other Eagle athletes announced their plans as well. Fellow gridder Chris Lewis said he will be playing linebacker and defensive line at Georgia Prep Academy.
In addition to the football signees, softball standout Erica English said she will be headed to Wheeling Jesuit College in West Virginia to play shortstop, and top volleyball hitter Tia McCord is headed to New York to attend and compete at Molloy College.
For Novak and Bilinsky, they’re continuing several traditions.
“We’ve played together since the seventh grade and known each other since the fourth grade,” Novak said. “We’ve known each other a long time, and I’m glad we’ll be continuing together.”
Bilinsky, who committed to Mercyhurst first, said he’s pleased to continue the duo’s time on the field and in the classroom together.
“It’s great, I was thrilled when Brad called me to say he would be coming to Mercyhurst, too,” Bilinsky said. “It will help having someone you know out there with you when we go on the field the next few years.”
Both North Olmsted players will be following in the footsteps of their Eagle head coach, Tim Brediger, who went on from a career at North Olmsted to Mercyhurst, where he was again a standout on the field as well as in the classroom.
“It is special as a coach when you see your players succeeding and getting an opportunity, particularly when you are familiar with the place as well,” Brediger said.
In addition to Brediger, Novak’s father, Glenn, also played at Mercyhurst from 1988 to 1992, and was a three-year starter at free safety.
“It was a D3 (Division III) program back then, and wasn’t nearly as competitive as they are at the D2 level today,” Glenn Novak said.
He said he has maintained friends from the program, citing fellow Northeast Ohioan Chris Dicola, a wide receiver who graduated from North Canton Hoover High School in 1992.
He said right now, the coaches have indicated Brad could play at several positions.
“They have recruited him as an ‘Athlete,’ but they have a need at wide receiver,” Glenn Novak said. “He will more than likely come in as a wide receiver.”
Novak said he’s proud of Brad and all the North Olmsted athletes.
Jeff Rotheram is also following tradition since his older brother Matt was a top lineman for the Eagles before him and is now starting on the offensive line for the University of Pittsburgh Panthers.
The younger Rotheram said he first really began to consider Youngstown State as a school when it knocked off the Panthers at the beginning of the 2012 football season.
“It seems like a good fit for me,” he said, while grinning when asked if there was a rivalry with his older brother.
Scott said he wanted to go to someplace warm, and that the Georgia academy will help him prepare himself to continue his athletics career.