The Akron Tigers suffered a terrible loss last year, even before the first game. Senior Jonathan Fiebelkorn died, tragically with just a week before the Tigers opened up their season. His teammates played on but dealing with the loss of such a beloved student-athlete took its toll.
Akron finished with a 4-4 overall record and lost to Southwestern in the opening round of the playoffs.
Head coach Andrew Clouse, now in his 10th season knows how close his team became last season. This year he wants the commitment to each other to continue and grow stronger.
“If we commit to each other, work for each other and support each other we should have a successful season,” Clouse said
One of the highlights in 2017 was the Connolly Cup nomination of senior Jacob Sarow. The running back finished with over 1200 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns.
Heading into 2018, the Class C North Tigers will be looking to reload at the tailback slot and might have an answer in freshman Aidan Smith. Clouse says he is a similar back to Sarow. “Aidan does a really good job of avoiding tackles and has tremendous speed.”
Adam Mietz is another new face on Varsity. He has an older brother, Austin that had a solid career at Akron and then Edinboro. Adam will be slotted in the free safety position and is being groomed to be the next quarterback. He is also a receiver. Both Smith and Mietz have big upsides according to Clouse.
Returning quarterback Brandon Orr has a trio of good receivers in Timothy Longwell, Millard Young and Jacob Siska. Orr threw for over 1000 yards last year and tossed 8 touchdowns. Robbie Pequeen caught six of them but has since graduated.
Orr is becoming more confident in his game as well. “I was nervous a little last year but had a good first game and that took some of that away,” Orr said. “We want to have fun but more than that we want to win.
Defensively, the Tigers are very athletic. Returning will be Logan Leeds (DL), Orr (DB), Longwell (DE), Young (DE) and Siska (DB). Young and Longwell play as aggressive as any two defenders Clouse has coached. “They’re just nasty guys to play against,” Clouse said.
This season will have its share of challenges. The Tigers open up the schedule with back-to-back road games. They begin at JFK and then head down to Silver Creek before returning home with another solid test against Wilson in week three. “Our biggest challenge is the depth, we’re a smaller school so there are a number of guys you’re counting on that play both ways.”
Clouse understands the commitment his players need to make, he’s a former Tiger himself. “We have to stay healthy and we have to play together. It’s as simple as that.”
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