Wellsville ready for new era

WELLSVILLE – Even though he has only been on the job since mid-January, Wellsville head football coach Rich Wright likes what he has seen thus far of the 2013 edition of the Wellsville Tiger football team.

“I really like their work ethic,” said Wright, who built the Beaver Local Beavers into a perennial playoff entrant from 1999-2005, qualifying for the playoffs six times in seven years. “Their speed is outstanding. They are hungry for success.”

Wright, who coached the Beavers to an 83-58 mark from 1999-2011, has assembled a veteran coaching staff to assist him with the Tigers. Members of the staff include Dennis Bowers (RB-OLB), Joe Carr (C-DT), Dan Rovira (OL-Defensive Coordinator), Derrick Spann (TE-DE) and Joe Petrovich (WR-DB).

In regards to the roster, Wright said, “We have seen as many as 40 at some of the weightlifting sessions, but I am hoping for about 32-35 players when practice officially starts. I am concerned about our numbers, but we only have 98 boys in the high school. We will have enough older and younger players that we will be able to play the varsity game on Friday night and the JV game on Saturday, as long as we are healthy. That’s the key; staying healthy, but I’m sure that every team in Division VII has that concern.”

When asked about his schedule and his knowledge of the opponents, Wright said, “I’ve coached with and against Eric Meek (Toronto) and Jim Tsilimos (Lisbon). They were both on our Beaver Local staff (2009) and I know the quality and integrity they instill in their players and also what their philosophies are. I’ve seen a ton of Leetonia games over the years, as I have such a high regard for Matt Altomare and the job he does up there. Mineral Ridge’s new coach is Doug Velasquez, who was an integral member of some of our very successful teams at Beaver Local. The other teams we’ll learn about as the season progresses.”

In an effort for the coaches and players to get to know each other better, Wright made a change in the off-season weightlifting program. “This is the first time since I’ve been coaching that I’ve asked each of our coaches to be at every one of our weightlifting sessions since we started in January. I wanted us to be able to get to know each other. There have been adjustments made by the players and adjustments made by the coaches, as a lot of our players are in other programs, such as basketball and wrestling.”

When Wright was at Beaver Local, his teams were known for their strength. That philosophy has carried over to Wellsville.

“We went to the Columbiana powerlifting meet,” Wright said. “Next year, we’ll increase the number of powerlifting meets. We are getting stronger and stronger.”

As Wright looks ahead to the season, he said, “The players have listened to everything we’ve said to them. They are very good kids. They have adjusted to the change in coaches. They have been a pleasure to work with and I’m really looking forward to the season and being their coach.”