Since taking over as the head coach of Warren G. Harding High School, Steve Arnold is now 2-8 in season-opening games (wins in 2015 and 2016). That said, he's 7-2 in the second game of the season, with one of those losses being a forfeit to Howland in 2014. With playoff appearances in six of his nine seasons, it illustrates that him and his staff know how to make the proper adjustments as the season progresses.
If you would've told Arnold before Harding's week 1 game against Medina that his Raiders would limit Drew Allar, one of the highest rated quarterbacks in the country, to just 154 passing yards and two touchdowns, he would've taken that deal while liking his chances to come away with the victory. Unfortunately for him, mistakes proved too costly for Harding, especially in the third quarter, which allowed the Bees score a game-defining 17 unanswered point en route to a 31-14 victory.
Despite the difficult loss, there's plenty of positives for Coach Arnold and his staff to build on. Senior Dom Foster gave Syracuse University a great sneak preview of the versatile athlete that they'll be getting in 2022 as he finished with 174 yards and two touchdowns worth of total offense (42 passing, 48 rushing, and 84 receiving). Junior Dalys Jett also made his presence felt at the quarterback position in his Raider debut as he went 7-of-19 for 131 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Between him and Foster, seven different Raiders caught passes against Medina, who is expected to make plenty of noise in the Division I-Region I playoffs this year. Despite that theory, Harding isn't satisfied with last Friday's results, so they'll look to sharpen their skills this week for a squad that's eyeing some continued improvement of their own.
When it comes to hiring football coaches at the high school and even college level, a popular theory is, "When in doubt, hire an alum from Youngstown Cardinal Mooney." Last December, that's what Youngstown East High School did when they brought in Mark Assion to take over the duties as the head of their football program. Prior to spending the last two seasons on Youngstown Chaney's staff, Assion acumulated a record of 27-45 in seven seasons as the head coach at Jackson-Milton from 2010 til 2016. For many former Raiders who are currently in their early to mid 30's, his name will also ring a bell as he spent time on the coaching staff at Harding in the 2000's.
Last season, East was outscored 204 to 57 and finished the season with a record of 0-7. That wasn't a trend that Coach Assion planned on continuing as last week, the Golden Bears built a 12-0 halftime over East Cleveland Shaw and held on for a 12-8 victory. Seniors Robert Higgs and Delonta Kalaskey are the leaders on the offensive line and they'll look to plow holes for running back and fellow classmate Frank Harris. Sophomore Andrew Blackmon already has plenty of varsity experience at quarterback and he has a couple pairs of experienced hands to throw to in Mario Wright and Luther Bell. Defensively, Harris and Higgs are big playmakers while Wright will lead the charge at linebacker.
Harding and East both have their sights set on capitalizing off of the talent that they have. While the Golden Bears got off to a faster start, Arnold and his staff have a lot to be excited about with the potential on the Raiders' roster. Only will tell just how how high they can climb the ladder of success, but they'll look to put their foot on the first rung this Friday when Coach Assion comes to Warren on Friday seeking his second win as the head coach of East.