Ohio OVAC linebacking corps deep, talented

WINTERSVILLE — Andrew Connor and his coaching staff didn’t just look for playmakers on the offensive side of the ball when they selected their roster for the 74th annual OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game.

The veteran Indian Creek head coach, who will lead the Buckeye State against West Virginia on Saturday, July 27 at Wheeling Island Stadium, focused on linebacker play because of how instrumental it is to defensive success. “If you do not have good linebackers, the other stuff is all window dressing,” Connor said. “We feel like we’ve selected a really good group of kids. We’ve seen a lot of these kids play and it’s nice to have them on our team now.”

Connor believes the group, which includes Shadyside’s Connor Banco, Shenandoah’s Chase Chicwak, River’s Hunter Dennis, Steubenville’s Erik Lulla and Fort Frye’s Evan Schob, will be able to play both against the run and pass.

“This group can stunt well, gets to the ball well and tackles well in space,” Connor observed. “We’re really excited about these guys.”

Both the Ohio and West Virginia squads report to camp on Sunday at Bethany College.

Here’s a capsule look at the players:

EVAN SCHOB, Fort Frye — This former Cadet did was one of the key contributors on both sides of the ball for Coach Eric Huck’s team that advanced to the Division VI, Final Four.

The 5-9, 200 pounder finished with some 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing. He also logged 90 tackles from his middle linebacker spot.

Schob was named all-Eastern District as a running back, all-PVC, all-OVAC and was a team captain.

Along with football, Schob is a member of the OVAC’s Varsity Board and attended Buckeye Boys State in 2018.

Evan, who plans to attend Ohio Valley University, is the son of Andy and Candi Schob.

CHASE CHICWAK, Shenandoah — This former Zep re-wrote the school records for tackles under the watch of head coach Jesse Wells.

The 6-0, 190 pounder finished his career with a Shenandoah-best 439 tackles.

He was recognized as all-Ohio three times during his illustrious career and twice earned the coveted Eastern District Defensive Player of the Year.

He was an all-Eastern District pick three times.

Chase, who plans to attend Ohio Dominican, is the son of John Chickwak and Lori Chicwak.

HUNTER DENNIS, River — This former Pilot shined on both sides of the ball for Coach Mike Flannery’s team.

The 5-9, 185 pounder had a senior season in which he logged 53 tackles, 27 of which were solo. He also had a sack, interception, three forced fumbles and 15 tackles for loss. On the offensive side, he scored four touchdowns and graded out at 95 percent as a blocking fullback.

Dennis was honorable mention all-Eastern District and all-Valley.

Hunter is the son of Rodney and Erica Dennis.

ERIK LULLA, Steubenville — This former Big Red dandy was a key cog in the success of Coach Reno Saccoccia’s team the last couple of seasons.

The 6-0, 175 pounder was Big Red’s leading tackler as both a junior and senior. He also caught six touchowns from his tight end spot.

Lulla was named all-OVAC and second-team all-Ohio as well as first-team all-Eastern District.

Erik, who plans to attend Eastern Gateway Community College, is the son of Dave and Dawn Lulla.

CONNOR BANCO, Shadyside — This former Tiger was a standout on both sides of the ball for Coach Mark Holenka’s team.

The 6-2, 205 pounder finished his prep career with some 200 tackles and 12 sacks from his linebacker post.

He also accumulated some 2,600 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving to go along with 60 touchdowns.

Banco was twice named all-Ohio and all-Eastern District.

Banco, who plans to attend Wheeling Jesuit, is the son of Thomas and Jennifer Banco.


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