PAINESVILLE, OHIO -- The 2008 defensive unit battled valiantly
in its first season of varsity competition, and there were
both great individual and team defensive performances, but Lake
Erie was frequently done in by the mix of inexperience, injuries
and inconsistency. The Storm defense looks forward to the new
campaign fortified by another year of weight room, a year of
experience under its belt and another class of outstanding
Junior captain and leading tackler Bill Finucan (Rocky River, OH/Rocky River/Mercyhurst) leads a talented group of linebackers into battle. Finucan, named to the D2.com All-Independent team in 2008 after recording 89 total stops (19 for loss), will be joined by a very deep group of players looking for time in the middle of the Storm defense. Dave Heck (North Lima, OH/South Range) and Gus Armbruster (North Royalton, OH/North Royalton)) shared starting duties and gained valuable experience, combining for 49 tackles. Cameron Bryant (Lorain, OH/Admiral King), Zack Strause (Vickery, OH/Margaretta Local), Sean Lopez (Chardon, OH/Chardon) and Matt Spelich (Cleveland, OH/Lutheran West) all have the capability to figure into the linebacker picture. Transfer Garrett McMullin (Brookfield, OH/Brookfield/Clarion) had a very strong spring and will be a big factor somewhere in the linebacking corp.
Several outside linebackers return in 2009 with at least part-time starting experience in 2008. Scott Given (Elyria, OH/Midview), Kevin Chapman (Cincinnati, OH/Anderson) and Andy Kurzinger (Chardon, OH/Chardon) all had turns as a starter in 2008. Given was second on the team with 81 tackles, with 10 going for losses, including a pair of sacks. Chapman made 38 stops while Kurzinger added 12 in 10 games. Devon Ludwig (East Liverpool, OH/Beaver Local)- moving forward from strong safety- Matt Lott (Newark, OH/Newark Catholic) and Carl Bowers Jr. (Kenton, OH/Upper Scioto Valley) also saw considerable time on defense and special teams and will be counted on to compete for opportunities. Add to this group transfer Dan Nebraski (Madison, OH/Madison/Edinboro) and there should be quite a battle for playing time at outside linebacker.
Versatile sophomore Josh Freeman (Mentor, OH/Mentor) should be the cornerstone of yet another group that returns several players with considerable time as starters in 2008. Freeman had a pair of sacks last year and will be joined by Taylor Jonard (Galena, OH/Walnut), who started a majority of contests in 2008 and has the maturity and weight room strength to handle the rigors of a DII schedule. Another group of players who saw significant time last year consists of Derrick Clement (Seville, OH/Cloverleaf), Nico Sharp (Twinsburg, OH/Twinsburg) and Chaz Brown (Euclid, OH/Euclid). That trio will definitely be a big factor in the defensive front. T.J. Cage (Warren, OH/Champion), Alex Kayza (Concord, OH/Notre Dame Cathedral Latin) and Matt Olszewski (Indiana, PA/Marion Center Area) used strong performances in spring ball to make the coaching staff notice that they also have the ability to be in the mix in 2009. Mike McElligott (Warrensville, OH/St. Peter Chanel) returns after missing the 2008 campaign with injuries and has the tools and size to also be a factor.
Sophomores Kenneth "Rudy" Glenn (Shaker Heights, OH/Shaker Heights)and Aaron Gaines (Akron, OH/Buchtel) return to there familiar positions at corner for the Storm defense. The pair combined for 73 tackles and two picks last season and both should benefit from a year of experience and weight room. Cavan Smith (Brooklyn, OH/Padua Franciscan) and Brett Bonde (Willowick, OH/Lake Catholic) should provide quality depth at the corner position. A log jam at safety exists where several players return with experience in the starting line up. Leading the group is Ryan Studer (Painesville, OH/Riverside) who had a breakout season after making the switch from corner with 78 tackles and a pair of interceptions. Also returning at the safety position is Dave Dunne (Rocky River, OH/Rocky River), who had 58 tackles and two picks. Against The Apprentice School, both Studer and Dunne returned interceptions for scores. Gerald Still Cleveland, OH/Cleveland South), Tom Dempsey (Stow, OH/Western Reserve Academy) and Jon Zyznar (Boardman, OH/Cardinal Mooney) are also back in the deep secondary. All saw significant time last season and should battle for time again this year. All will be counted on heavily to be stalwarts on special teams.