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By Mike Copper, Tom Reisenweber, Jeff Kirik Erie Times-News staff bloggers
The Varsity blog is the 2013 winner of an international EPPY award for best sports blog. EPPYs are awarded to media-affiliated websites by Editor & Publisher, an industry trade publication. Varsity is primarily maintained by Times-News sports writers Mike Copper and Tom Reisenweber and sports editor Jeff Kirik.   Read more about this blog.
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Summer Huddle – North East

Jordan Bryan is likely to have an expanded role in North East's backfield this season.

Brendon Tinko

Mike Macaulay

Matt Shesman

North East Grapepickers

Coach: Matt Shesman (20th season, 105-90-1)
2012 overall record: 7-4
2012 region record: 4-3 (tied for third)
2012 playoff results: Lost to Grove City 56-14 in the District 10 Class AA quarterfinals.

Top players lost: Corey Voorhis, Tyler Koszewski, Rocky Owens, Tyrus Murphy, Brett Swan, Steve Kocher, Chase Doyle

Top returning players: Jordan Bryan, Josh Gillespie, Jeff Smith, Mike Macaulay, Brendon Tinko, Ben Stritzenger, Craig Zuccolotto, Jarod Rathman, Grayson Hill

Assistant coaches: Shawn Humes, Bill Renne, Joe Shesman, Curtis Bailey, John Beaumont, Tom Pyle, Steve Righi, Bob Sensor

Outlook: North East had another season with two 1,000-yard running backs and a trip to the playoffs in 2012. The Grapepickers will need to rebuild quickly to return to the postseason this fall. North East lost Corey Voorhis, Tyler Koszewski, Rocky Owens, Tyrus Murphy, Brett Swan, Steve Kocher and Chase Doyle to graduation, while defensive starter Hunter Emerson transferred to Cathedral Prep. Voorhis ran for 1,125 yards and scored a total of 11 touchdowns to be voted to the all-region first team at all-purpose and defensive back. Owens ran for 1,490 yards and scored 20 total touchdowns. He was voted to the all-region second team at running back and linebacker. Koszewski, a first-team defensive lineman and punter, hauled in five catches for 90 yards and one touchdown and had six sacks as a defensive end. Murphy and Swan were voted to the all-region second team on the offensive line, while Kocher had two interceptions and Doyle connected on 29 extra points and two field goals last season.

With plenty of size and production gone, the Grapepickers will look for playmakers in camp. Jordan Bryan, Josh Gillespie, Jeff Smith, Mike Macaulay, Brendon Tinko, Ben Stritzenger, Craig Zuccolotto, Jarod Rathman and Grayson Hill are all back to lead the young team. Macaulay took over at quarterback last fall and threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns and collected two interceptions on defense. He will be back under center, while Bryan looks like a starting running back. Bryan ran for 70 yards on 12 carries. Tinko is back at wide receiver after hauling in six catches for 140 yards last fall, while Bryan caught three passes for 14 yards. Gillespie, Stritzenger and Andrew Phelps are back to anchor the offensive line, while Stritzenger and Rathman are returning starters on the defensive line. North East has a strong linebacker corps back with Hill, Zuccolotto, Macaulay and Smith, while Tinko and Bryan are back to start in the defensive backfield. North East could also receive contributions from up and coming underclassmen Jonah Sargent, Josh Hecht, Kevin Cooney, Trey Tanner, Tyler Carris, Matt Huntley, Kyle Helffrich, Logan Reynolds, Garrett Owens, Luke Still and Nic Hupp. Tom Rust transferred in from Titusville and could be a starter in the defensive backfield this season. North East needs several running backs to step up this season for the ‘Pickers. North East will open at developing rival Greenville before its home-opener against Corry. The ‘Pickers have a loaded schedule, including East and Strong Vincent, but they will get to host Fairview, Girard and Northwestern. If North East can develop as a team and find some steady backs before the second half of the season, the ‘Pickers could be headed back to the postseason, once again.

30 at Greenville 7
6 Corry* 7
13 at Harbor Creek* 7
20 Fairview* 7
27 at Fort LeBoeuf* 7
4 Girard* 7
11 East 7
18 Northwestern* 7
25 at Seneca* 7
1 at Strong Vincent 7
*Region 4 games

Monday: Northwestern
–Tom Reisenweber
Posted in: Football, Summer Huddle

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