Conneaut Valley Indians
Coach (season): Pat Mattera (1st season)
2010 overall record: 4-6
2010 region record (place): 2-6 (seventh)
2010 playoff results: Did not qualify for the District 10 playoffs.
Top players lost: Casey Baker, Bobby Harris, Andrew Butterfield, Jake Conley, Sam Smith
Top returning players: Nolan Varee, Travis Foster, Nolan Griffin, Nik Griffin, Jordan Krause, Alex Kimble
Assistant coaches: Bill Braden, Jeremiah Conley
Outlook: Conneaut Valley will look for a fresh start under new head coach Pat Mattera. The Indians’ head coach spent the past three years as an assistant at Valley and is focused on the team concept this season. Valley doesn’t have the numbers other schools do but Mattera believes the Indians have the ability to move the ball on offense and play solid defense.
The Indians return a powerful passing attack that produced 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2010. Nolan Griffin completed 100-of-194 for 1,484 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore and could have a breakout season this fall. His favorite target, Nolan Varee, caught 46 passes for 754 yards and eight touchdowns last year. Varee is being looked at by several colleges as a defensive back. Griffin, whose twin brother Nik Griffin is the starting center, won’t have the height of 6-foot 4-inch Casey Baker to throw to this year. Baker caught 43 passes for 708 yards and nine TDs, but has graduated.
Although Valley didn’t have a strong running game last year, the Indians won’t have any experience back. Valley’s top four rushers are gone and only Jordan Krause, who ran for 62 yards on nine carries, is back. Krause will be in the mix for carries this fall as well as several underclassmen.
Another hole the Indians need to fill in is on defense. Jake Conley (95 tackles) and Sam Smith (63) led Valley in tackles last season but graduated. Alex Kimble looks to anchor the defense at defensive end after collecting 51 tackles last fall, while Nik Griffin had 49.
More than anything, Valley will look for a few leaders to step up and score points. Baker had 106 points last year and his production needs to be replaced. Valley starts off with three brutal games before a bye week that opened up with Conneaut Lake’s program being consolidated with Linesville. Valley will travel to Linesville on Oct. 14 for a showdown that is usually a rivalry game anyway, but will mean even more with Lake athletes competing at Linesville.
2 Cochranton 7
10 at West Middlesex* 7
16 at Lakeview* 7
30 at Farrell* 7
7 Kennedy Catholic* 7
14 at Linesville* 7
21 Mercer* 7
28 Sharpsville* 7
4 at A.C. Valley 7
– Tom Reisenweber