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The Suburbanite
  • BURNING QUESTIONS: Green's battle begins up front

  • If football success truly does begin on the line, then the Green Bulldogs have a tremendous amount riding on the quick development of their players up front.

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  • If football success truly does begin on the line, then the Green Bulldogs have a tremendous amount riding on the quick development of their players up front.
    With just one returning starter on the offensive line and an overall lack of size on the line, third-year head coach Ed Cybak knows it will be vital to fill the four remaining spots with the right combination of players.
    "For this year, we're pretty inexperienced on the offensive and defensive lines," Cybak said. "If those young kids, with a veteran or two returning, can gel, that's going to be huge. The other thing is that we're not as big as we have been in the past, but that's OK because they need to work their techniques and work together."
    Chemistry, communication and minimizing mistakes will be essential for the offensive line, which will look to use its speed and athleticism against larger opponents.
    While five starters return on each side of the ball, it is the offensive and defensive lines Cybak believes will be the key for the Bulldogs to break through after back-to-back 6-4 seasons.
    The ripple effects from the high turnover on both lines include a greater focus on the play-making abilities of Green's skill position players. Strength and speed testing leading up to the season have the coaching staff encouraged by what they have to work with.
    "We're depending on that athleticism and speed. We've been testing the last few days and we like what we've seen. Although we're not as big, that's OK, you have to be more athletic," Cybak added.
    There have been losses at the skill positions as well, including twins Seth and Zach Wieland. Cybak knows that players such as Andrew Ventura and sophomore speedster James Angel have the ability to be successful, but their opportunities to move the chains and reach the end zone will depend largely upon the play of the line.
    That line play will also show how much of an impact the school's expanded strength and conditioning program has made. Green teams in all sports are working with Akron General Sports Medicine's strength program and the football team has spent the summer trying to increase its power while improving speed and endurance.
    Mitchell Kay is the lone returning starter on the offensive line and is enthusiastic about this season's group. The All-Suburban League senior stands 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, but it is his leadership that will be his most vital quality in the early season.
    "We're looking for the underclassmen to step up big. We might not be the biggest, but we're physical, mean and fast and we're going to get after it," Kay said. "You definitely have to communicate well and we have a great coach who puts us in the best position to win."
    Page 2 of 2 - Like Cybak, Kay views the line's athleticism as a big asset and part of the reason it could be as good or better than last year's unit.
    One of the players stepping in on the line is senior Sean Nischwitz, who is playing the position for the first time. He has suited up at linebacker and tight end, but is one of the bigger bodies on the team and will be counted on to make the transition to his new role quickly.
    "I was moved to the line because we really didn't have any size and it's a new position for me, so hopefully I step up," Nischwitz said.
    Learning the proper footwork for an offensive lineman has been the biggest challenge, Nischwitz said, and it is a challenge that serves as a microcosm for the task ahead of he and his line mates this season. Their success or failure will provide the foundation for where the Bulldogs stand at the end of 2013.
    Reach Andy at 330-899-2872 or andy.harris@TheSuburbanite.com.
    On Twitter: @aharrisBURB