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2023 Rootstown Rovers Football Preview

2023 Rootstown Rovers Football Preview


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


Chris Knopick

(3rd year, 12-10 career record)



Coaching Staff: Mark Knopick, defensive coordinator and linebackers; Alan Vanderink, special teams coordinator, wide receivers and defensive backs; Tom Hannan, junior varsity coach and running backs; Al Hodakievic, defensive line and tight ends; Kyle Fitzpatrick, quarterbacks and defensive backs; Ben Sherman, strength and conditioning and running backs.

2022 Record: 7-4 overall.

Returning Lettermen (15): Tony Karp, sr.; Ryan Piscitani, sr.; Will McEwuen, sr.; Cohen Schlaubach, sr.; Dawson Morgan, sr.; Kyle Kuharich, sr.; Dominic Silow, sr.; Chris Cooper, sr.; Nic Malek, jr.; Tristan McKibben, jr.; Dominic Duvall, jr.; Mason Fleck, jr.; Brian Youngblood, jr.; Damien Reuting, soph.; Braden Wright, soph.

Lettermen Lost (7): Branden Bobby, Cody Coontz, Luke DeAngelis, Drew Nero, Linden White, Hutton Krieger, Trent Gierke.


The Rovers will predominantly run out of an 11 H-Back, 21 Personnel and Power-I offense.

“We expect to lean on our experienced offensive line to pave the way for us,” Knopick said.


Ryan Piscitani will take over for the graduated Luke DeAngelis. Piscitani was a Second Team All-PTC selection last year as a defensive end, but did start three games at QB when DeAngelis was injured, including a playoff game against United that Piscitani performed well in.

Freshman Blake Mulally is the backup.


Record-setting Cody Coontz, who rushed for a school-record 2,322 yards last season and was named First Team All-Ohio, has graduated.

Next up will be senior Dawson Morgan, who will move into the backfield from playing wide receiver last year.

Junior Dominic Duvall and sophomore Damien Reuting will also both see time in the team’s two- and three-back sets.


The strength of the team, with its size and experience, with First Team All-Ohio performer Tony Karp leading the way.

All five on the line have starting experience, with four of them starting all 10 of last year’s games.

Dominic Siglow and Kyle Kuharich will anchor the guard positions, while sophomore Braden Wright will play at the other tackle spot opposite of Karp.

At center will be senior Brian Youngblood.

Backups include Noah Cross, Peyton Simms and Ben Kline.


Tristan McKibben is the starting H-back and tight end.

Michael Lattimer has earned time during camp, while sophomore Ethan White also provides depth.


Seniors Cohen Schlaubach and Chris Cooper return as starters, with junior Nic Malek also impressing during camp.

Senior Will McEwuen and sophomore Mason Lisi will provide depth.


The base defense will be a 4-3, but expect the Rovers to incorporate multiple fronts.


Three experienced linebackers return in Youngblood and Duvall on the outside and Kuharich in the middle.

Youngblood (8 TFLs) led the team in tackles last year with 72, with Duvall right behind him with 71.

Meanwhile, senior Tyler Paulus is a promising newcomer and has “done well picking up the speed of the game,” according to Knopick.

Reuting has shown promise and will likely get time at both linebacker and in the secondary.

Senior Julian Labriolla provides depth.


“We have a good combination of speed and size,” Knopick said.

Karp (45 tackles), Siglow and Wright will plug up the middle, while McKibben, Lattimer and Mason Fleck will be on the edge.

McKibben finished with 55 tackles a year ago.

Piscitani will be used as a situational defensive option.


Four starters return: Schlaubach, Morgan (48 tackles), Cooper and Malek (53 tackles and 4 interceptions).

“Our experience should translate to big plays in the back end,” Knopick said.

Seniors Colby Scott and McEwuen have “shown growth” and Lisi has also proven to be a productive option.

Reuting will split time between linebacker and safety.

Senior Brock Wise, along with sophomores Chase Duvall, Alex Ely and Javier Sullivan add depth.


“With most small schools, depth is our greatest concern,” Knopick said. “While we have a solid core of returning starters, there is an increased emphasis on getting our younger players ready for varsity time sooner rather than later. Staying healthy, having a solid rotation, being intelligent with our reps and young players growing into varsity roles will go a long way in determining our success as the season progresses.”

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