Lakers look to take the next step

Row 1:  Taylon Molnar, James Dorko, Cooper Eller, Tyler Dray, Cody German, Jim Chamberlin, John McClellan & Jon Brooks.
Row 2:  Ryan Miller, Seth Vargo, Kain Lucas, Austin Holmes, Eden Flynn, Geraldo Salinas, Donnie McCune, Mike Stys & Shay Rickard.
Row 3:  Sam Tyson, Dylan Harris, Zyan Barrere, Jarod Koenig, Tre' Michael, Connor McClellan, Avery Nowak & Nick Bossetti.
Row 4:  Coaches Bryan Dudash, Tim Heffernan, Jeff Lewis & Gene Peluso.

Head Coach: Bryan Dudash, 2nd year
Last Year: 2-8 (1-6 TAAC)

Outlook: Now in his second year as head coach of the Danbury Lakers, head coach Bryan Dudash has built the football program into a competitive group that can battle with many of the area's smaller schools.

But now he's looking to lead Danbury to a more respectable level, one that sees them winning at least five games per year and competing against the best teams in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference. And Dudash, with the help of defensive coordinator Tim Heffernan, believes this could be the year in which the Lakers take that next step.

As usual, Danbury will operate its offense out of a spread formation that typically features three- and four-wide receiver sets. However, Dudash notes, there will be some run-based formations, specifically out of the Wing-T, that features running backs Cody German (6-1, 190) and Taylon Molnar (6-1, 215). Dudash is confident that the twin backs can help the offense to establish a stout rushing attack. He expects German to get 20-25 touches per game and Molnar to get 10-12 touches in each contest.

“We have added a little bit of a Wing-T look, but it will still be out of the shotgun. We've added a little bit more because of our two running backs. We have to be creative.”

Dudash is also excited about freshman QB Seth Vargo (6-2, 190).

“He loves football and loves to learn,” Dudash said. “He will get better each week, he's got a good arm and we're going to try and control his throws. He can be one of the best quarterbacks we've had at Danbury.”

The primary receivers will be Jimmy Chamberlain, John Brooks and James Dorko, who will also handle the kicking and punting duties.

“Chamberlain can put up some numbers, he can be a threat,” Dudash said. “He could set up numbers that rival (former receiver) Cody Schenk.”

Dudash also notes that Brooks, who previously played tackle, could see some time at tight end and that Dorko will run the ball at times, too.

The offensive line, which has its share of returning starters, features Kain Lucas (6-2, 260), John McClellan (6-0, 205), Mike Stys (5-11, 195), Cooper Eller (5-11, 225) and Shay Rickard (6-1, 205). Dudash has said that Tyler Dray is still battling for a starting spot on the line and that he will likely serve as the utility guy with Geraldo Salinas also seeing some time.

“We have a lot of guys coming back (on the line),” Dudash said. “That's our strength — we've got some size there and some depth. We've got talent.”

The base defense, meanwhile, is a typical 4-3. Brooks, Eller, McClelland and Rickard will start on the defensive line with Salinas and Dray rotating in and out.

Molnar, German and Stys are the linebackers and Dorko, a cornerback, will join fellow cornerback Jared Koenig and Chambers and Sam Tyson at the safety positions.

“We have some athletes and we'll be moving some people around. We'll run some cover-3, some cover-1 and try to take advantage of some of our speed.”

The Lakers open with a non-conference slate that includes Open Door Christian Academy, located just outside of Cleveland, Holgate and St. Mary CC. Last season, Danbury went 1-2 against those teams, but Dudash is hopeful that his squad can turn that around and possibly go 3-0.

In the TAAC, Dudash sees perennial league power Northwood as the favorite with Gibsonburg as the second-best team and Edon in the top-three. The question for the Lakers is whether or not they can take the next step and join the likes of Toledo Christian and Ottawa Hills in the middle of the league.

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