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Agresta pleased with first season with Central

WRAPPED UP — Ryan Gorman and the Catholic Central football team concluded their first season under head coach Anthony Agresta 5-5. - Joe Catullo

STEUBENVILLE — All things considered, Anthony Agresta was pretty happy with his first season as Catholic Central’s football coach.

“I’m not disappointed from an overall perspective,” said Agresta, who was hired by Central in April and made the move from Louisiana to Ohio in time to start summer camp. “There were a lot of question marks regarding our season simple because of the fact we didn’t know what the numbers would look like early.

“Several of the kids who committed to play hadn’t played before, so there were people speculating on what our season would be like or what it would not be like. When all was said and done, I couldn’t be more pleased with the kids who hadn’t played before and decided to be part of our program. We put a good product on the field and I am happy about that.”

The Crusaders finished at 5-5 and were in the Division VII, Region 25 playoff hunt until their heart-breaking Week 10 loss to Toronto.

“Once we got into it and we were in the position to make the playoffs — two games and a half dozen or doze plays made the difference of us not getting in. That part still hurts a little.

Of the five losses, four were to teams heading to the playoffs — Lucas, unbeaten Southern Local, Wheeling Central and of course, the Red Knights. Harrison Central dealt Central its other setback. The current combined record of the four playoff opponents is 31-8.

Central finished the season with a 35-man roster and nearly a third hadn’t padded up before or joined the program once the season began.

“They all helped a great deal,” Agresta said. “We had some kids come out actually after school started. A lot of people would say that’s not the way to run a football program but when you have new sparked interest, you want to keep that flame burning.

“Those kids came in and didn’t play immediately. We made them go through some weeks of practice. They were patient, they were understanding and they were valuable when all was said and done.”

Agresta and his staff will be saying goodbye to 15 seniors: Anthony Sprochi, Anthony LeFever, Ryan Manneh, Nick Kissinger, Jeffrey Dawson, Anthony Simmons Jr., Seth Fitzgerald, Cole Maragos, Jayden Keeder, Daniel Kissinger, Matt Orsay, Indy Marcino, Luke Anderson, Alex Ialenti and Connor Mort.

“We have some big shoes to fill there,” Agresta said. “I am extremely thankful to the senior class and proud of my seniors. The attitudes of our seniors with all the transition and uncertainly were absolutely outstanding. They showed maturity beyond their years.”

Dawson was Central’s top ball carrier, collecting 873 yards on 169 carries and scoring 14 touchdowns. Sprochi was the top receiver with 14 catches for 239 yards and four scores.

Simmons, Keeder and LeFever were standouts on the defensive side of the football. From his middle linebacker spot, Simmons made 134 tackles, seven resulting in losses. Keeder, an outside linebacker, charted 114 tackles, forced four fumbles, recovered two fumbles and collecting an interception.

LeFever was a standout in the defensive backfield. He has 65 tackles and seven interceptions. He also took over at quarterback when junior Ryan Gorman went down with a knee injury.

Gorman, one of Central’s players out for the first time, passed for 718 yards and four touchdowns before being injured.

Agresta already is focusing on preparing his Crusaders for the 2020 season.

“I am so thankful that I actually have a winter and spring to work with,” he said. “We’ll get through the mandatory down time. As soon as that passes, we’ll be right back at it. We had 20-some players in our junior high group, seventh- and eighth-grade combined. We also hope to see some new people come in as more people understand both the school and the program are doing well.

“Fifteen is a lot to replace and I’m not sure we’ll have 15 replacements. We’re also taking to some kids that showed interest in football but decided not to play this year but may join us for next season. So, hopefully, we could have another influx there.”

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