RIVERSIDE — Second year Carroll High School football coach Ben Rulli isn’t going to sugar coat things when it comes to the status of the Carroll program.
After four straight losing seasons, the former Patriot standout isn’t ready to say everything is back to where it was under massively successful former Coach Steve Bartlett.
“The culture doesn’t change in one year,” Rulli said. But there is a big difference between the ears of his players.
“The attitude is good,” Rulli said, as has been the work ethic.
Winning always helps, but Rulli wants his team to take things one game at a time.
The Patriots will look to run the ball behind a tough line. Senior Gavin Tom has been a “staple” on the offensive line and will help open holes for senior running back Cory Hastings. Who will hand the ball off is still a question. Senior Jacob Severt, who started last year, is being pushed by junior Nick Riley.
“We’re excited for that,” Rulli said. “There’s nothing wrong with competition.”
While the emphasis will be on the ground, Rulli knows passing will be important. Senior Daniel Sommers looks to be the top pass catcher.
Other stars will emerge but Rulli, like Bartlett, doesn’t like to throw a bunch of names out there.
“It’s a team-first mentality,” Rulli said.
If the first scrimmage is any indication, the 50 slant defense will be a strength for Carroll.
“I don’t know if they gained positive yards,” Rulli said.
The front seven will be solid with senior defensive end Jason Pierce and junior linebacker Lamont Harris leading the way. The Patriots have enjoyed some depth on the stop side with many players contributing.
“Sometimes the best defenses are the no-name defense,” Rulli said.
While the run defense looked good, the secondary does need a bit of work.
“We’ve just got to shore up some things in the defensive backfield,” Rulli said.
The Patriots need to replace All-Ohio punter Thomas Barnes, but junior Alex Story has been able to step in and uh, put his best foot forward.