This was a football season to remember in Lorain County.
Columbia’s perfect regular season, Elyria notching its second playoff berth in school history, North Ridgeville’s turnaround season, Avon Lake’s return to the playoffs with a new coach and another undefeated season and playoff run by Avon were just some of the highlights.
Now come the accolades, with Midview’s Cody Callaway and Columbia’s Jay Banyasz leading the All-Lorain County honors as big school and small school Most Valuable Offensive Back winners.
“I feel tremendously blessed to receive such an honor,” said Callaway, who passed for 2,496 yards and 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions this year and ended his career with 69 TD passes.
“I’ve shared many great memories with my teammates, coaches, family and friends the past four years. Without them, I would never be in this position I am now.”
North Ridgeville coach Jeff Riesen, who was let go after the season after 16 years and two stints at the school, pulled off the biggest surprise, being named Big School (Divisions I, II and III) Coach of the Year.
Riesen took the Rangers from a one-win season in 2012 to 7-3 and claimed the award over the likes of Avon’s Mike Elder, Elyria’s Kevin Fell and Avon Lake’s Larry Laird, who all led their teams to the playoffs.
“It’s a fantastic feeling, on top of that, it’s very humbling,” Riesen said. “It’s a humbling feeling because there are a lot of great coaches in Lorain County. I’m very appreciative of the coaches awarding this to me. Just the fact that other coaches in the county thought that much of me, means the world to me. To have your peers give you this kind of a honor is pretty unbelievable.”
Though Riesen won’t be returning to North Ridgeville, he believes he left the program on a positive note.
“The most important thing was turning the program around,” Riesen said. “North Ridgeville football traditionally has been a winning program. We wanted to bring it back to where it belongs. The kids and the coaching staff made a great commitment and obviously it worked because we all worked hard together. One person wasn’t able to do it. We did it as a team.”
Riesen doesn’t want to make a quick decision about his coaching future, but is pretty sure he’ll return to the sidelines in some capacity.
“I’ve been a head coach for 30 years, but my ego isn’t that big that I have to be the head coach,” Riesen said. “Whether it’s as a head coach or an assistant, I just love being a part of the game. My wife knows it’s still in my blood. If I have the opportunity, I’ll probably be coaching somewhere next year.”
Fell, who led the Pioneers to their second playoff berth in school history, felt Riesen deserved it.
“There were some really good teams in Lorain County this year,” Fell said. “Jeff got it for what he did this past season. They had quite the turnaround. He did a great job. I know I voted for him. It’s an honor well-deserved.”
Elyria’s Conner Kamczyc was named the Most Valuable Defensive Back. He leaves Elyria as the school’s all-time leading tackler. The All-Ohio first-teamer anchored the Pioneers defense this season with 211 tackles, five sacks and two interceptions.
There were co-winners for the offensive and defensive line honors. Avon’s Walter Rauterkus and Avon Lake’s Ben Oxley shared the offensive line award, while Avon Lake’s Kyle Kuhar and Avon’s Shaun Traine shared the defensive line honor.
Columbia’s Jason Ward earned his second straight Coach of the Year award in the Small Schools category for Divisions IV, V, VI and VII after leading his Raiders to a 10-0 regular season, second straight Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division championship and berth in the playoffs.
“I really look at it as a staff award,” Ward said. “I’m blessed to have an outstanding coaching staff around me. It’s difficult nowadays with so much emphasis on the sport and on success to fill out a staff and to have a group of guys that want to spend the time for not a whole lot of money to win. I’ve got a group of guys around me that care just as much as I do about our kids. It’s made everything so much easier and it’s really brought everything together for us.”
Banyasz, who also won the Golden Helmet award as Lorain County’s top senior player and was named Division V district player of the year on offense, threw 28 regular-season touchdown passes without an interception. He also ran for 619 yards and 10 touchdowns.
He was joined by teammates Dan Loub (Most Valuable Defensive Line) and Jacob Kleinhenz (Most Valuable Defensive Back) as top players in the small school category.
“It was definitely a team effort,” Banyasz said. “If it wasn’t for my receivers and my offensive line playing the way they played, I wouldn’t been able to play the way I did. It’s an honor being named player of the year. There’s so many great athletes in Lorain County, it’s a nice honor to be one of the top players.”
Ward will miss his star quarterback, who he’s had leading the offense for four years and helped win the school’s first playoff game last season.
“He’s like a son to me,” Ward said. “He deserves everything he gets. He works extremely hard and dives into whatever he’s involved in. He spends the time away from the practice field to prepare himself throughout the week. You’re not going to see a more prepared football player on Friday nights.”
Elyria Catholic’s Dakota Tallman took home the other MVP award, earning Most Valuable Offensive Line honors.
Contact Steve Walker at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
QUARTERBACK — First team: Cody Callaway, Midview, sr.; Tommy Glenn, Avon, sr. Honorable mention: Eddie Williamson, Lorain.
RUNNING BACK — First team: Jordan Connell, Elyria, sr.; Jumarr Lewis, Elyria, sr.; Wyatt Ohm, Avon Lake, sr.; Gerett Choat, Avon, so.; Demario McCall, North Ridgeville, so.; Mike Repko, Vermilion, sr.
WIDE RECEIVER — First team: Tavon Kurtz, Elyria, sr.; Max Seipel, Avon Lake, sr.; Logan Bolin, Midview, so.; Braeden Friss, Avon, sr.; Rhys Ratino, Avon, sr.
TIGHT END — First team: Chris Maxwell, Avon, jr.; Nathan Nunez, Amherst, jr.
OFFENSIVE LINE — First team: Darius Badford, Elyria, sr.; Ben Oxley, Avon Lake, sr.; Patrick Forrer, Midview, sr.; Walter Rauterkus, Avon, sr.; Vince Orlando, Avon, sr.; Willy Hedberg, North Ridgeville, jr.; Ethan Griffin, Vermilion, jr. Honorable mention: Anthony Jaloweic, Midview; Josh Fenn, Lorain; Matt Gross, Amherst; Austin Doyle, Avon Lake; Matt Pechaitis, Avon Lake; Tyler See, Vermilion.
KICKER — First team: Brendan Matcham, Midview, sr.
PUNTER — First team: Eric Sumislawski, Avon, jr.
DEFENSIVE LINE — First team: Lonzell Cash, Elyria, sr.; Kyle Kuhar, Avon Lake, sr.; Al Pivcevich, Avon Lake, sr.; Brett Zupancic, Midview, jr.; Shaun Traine, Avon, jr.; Dominic Bodnar, Avon, sr.; Zack Barno, North Ridgeville, sr.; Rashod Berry, Lorain, jr.; Mike Wearsch, Amherst, sr. Honorable mention: Jack Duffner, Midview.
LINEBACKER — First team: Connor Kamczyc, Elyria, sr.; Collin Lucas, Avon Lake, sr.; Devon Crum, Midview, sr.; Kevin Maloney, Avon, sr.; Jonah Bowden, North Ridgeville. Honorable mention: Derek Ruffner, Midview; Alex Habeeb, Avon; Jacob Ruoff, North Ridgeville; Derek Eibon, Amherst; Aaron Neal, Lorain; Mitch Tomlin, Avon.
DEFENSIVE BACK — First team: Zach Robinson, Elyria, sr.; Jerimiah Campo, Avon Lake, jr.; Zack Torbert, Avon, sr.; Jason Lucas, North Ridgeville, sr.; Eriq Hall, Lorain, sr. Honorable mention: Logan Juhl, Avon; Cole Franks, Midview; Bailey Gannon, North Ridgeville.
MVP — OFFENSIVE BACK: Cody Callaway, Midview
CO-MVP — OFFENSIVE LINE: Walter Rauterkus, Avon; Ben Oxley, Avon Lake
CO-MVP — DEFENSIVE LINE: Kyle Kuhar, Avon Lake; Shaun Traine, Avon
MVP — DEFENSIVE BACK: Connor Kamczyc, Elyria
TOM HOCH COACH OF THE YEAR: Jeff Riesen, North Ridgeville
QUARTERBACK — First team: Jay Banyasz, Columbia, sr.; Roger Engle, Clearview, jr.; Tyler Gullett, Keystone, sr. Honorable mention: Jeremy Holley, Elyria Catholic.
RUNNING BACK — First team: Tyler Polen, Keystone, jr.; Justin Rankin, Elyria Catholic, jr.; Kiylan Bugg, Oberlin, sr.; Chase Bealer, Wellington, sr.; Dudley Taw, Brookside, so.; Arin Pruitt, Brookside, sr.; Aaron Stevanus, Firelands, so.
WIDE RECEIVER — First team: Marcus Gunter, Keystone, sr.; Conner Riddell, Elyria Catholic, sr.; Collin Kmitt, Wellington, jr.; Gerrell Williams, Clearview, sr.; Tyler Edmisten, Columbia, sr. Honorable mention: Connor Hrobat, Elyria Catholic; Jake Morgan, Brookside; Alex Pearson, Columbia.
TIGHT END — First team: C.J. Conrad, Keystone, jr.; DeVonte Houghland, Oberlin, jr. Honorable mention: Max Wilson, Brookside.
OFFENSIVE LINE — First team: Ryan Tobicash, Keystone, jr.; Korey Horne, Keystone, sr.; Dakota Tallman, Elyria Catholic, sr.; Kenneth Twitty, Oberlin, jr.; Bryce Gibbs, Wellington, jr.; Joe Sosinski, Firelands, sr.; Ian Standen, Brookside, sr.; Billy Doughty, Clearview, sr.; Brandon Heidecker, Columbia, jr. Honorable mention: Tyler Gandell, Keystone; Dalton Denny, Wellington; Bryan Decato, Brookside.
KICKER — First team: Turner Giesel, Keystone, jr.
PUNTER — First team: Brandon Bellman, Brookside, sr.
DEFENSIVE LINE — First team: Robert Fleck, Keystone, sr.; Lucas Ball, Elyria Catholic, sr.; Sam Miller, Wellington, sr.; Casey Huhn, Brookside, jr.; Drew Hatcher, Clearview, sr.; Dan Loub, Columbia, sr.; Ben Verbus, Columbia, sr.
LINEBACKER — First team: Pierce Young, Keystone, sr.; Kendle Stiner, Keystone, sr.; Luke Michalski, Elyria Catholic, sr.; Will Washington, Elyria Catholic, sr.; Thomas Smith, Clearview, sr.; Jacob Kleinhenz, Columbia, sr. Honorable mention: Ethan Thomas, Oberlin; Tristen Rindfleisch, Columbia.
DEFENSIVE BACK — First team: Clay Hartley, Keystone, jr.; Jake Jagielski, Elyria Catholic, jr.; JuJuan Howard, Wellington, sr.; Lance Billings, Clearview, so.; Justin Rezniki, Columbia, sr. Honorable mention: Brendon Medina, Oberlin; Jake Morgan, Brookside; Alex Pearson, Clearview.
MVP — OFFENSIVE BACK: Jay Banyasz, Columbia
MVP — OFFENSIVE LINE: Dakota Tallman, Elyria Catholic
MVP — DEFENSIVE LINE: Dan Loub, Columbia
MVP — DEFENSIVE BACK: Jacob Kleinhenz, Columbia
TOM HOCH COACH OF THE YEAR: Jason Ward, Columbia