LORAIN — Mark Solis has succeeded everywhere he's been. He started his career at his alma mater, Ashland Crestview, moved to Elyria for three seasons and was at Twinsburg for four.
It added up to six playoff appearance in a dozen years, including taking the Pioneers to their one and only playoff appearance in 2005.
He's also won 72 percent of his games (94-37).
This year, Solis takes over at Lorain High, in its second year following the merger of Admiral King and Southview.
"Kids love enthusiasm, somebody with energy" he said. "They want somebody to give them structure. They want a coach who cares about them and that's what they're getting here.
"Now, they also have a coach they're not used to having - I'm not afraid to get after it with kids. It's tough love but at the end of the day, they'll be better men for it."
"Coach Solis has done a phenomenal job," said Lorain AD Bryan Koury, who brought Solis to Lorain.
"Things couldn't be going any better. The kids have really responded well. Although they're working exceptionally hard, they seem to be really enjoying the process. They're learning an entirely new system on both sides of the ball so it will take some time, but they've steadily progressed at a faster rate than what I had anticipated."
Solis has to change the mind-set. Admiral King had three consecutive decent years under Mark Campo from 2006-08, but other than that, you have to go back to the days of Brian DeMarco and Raymont Harris to find a Lorain school that won consistently.
"Numbers are up," Solis said. "Kids are tougher. We're making them tougher. It's amazing, the trainer said to me that "I'm used to seeing a lot more kids (in the trainer's room). I don't see kids anymore."
"We don't allow little nicks and bruises as a cause to miss practice. We had a great scrimmage against Massillon Perry. They were physical for our kids, aggressive - a team that plays in the Federal League - one of the best in the state. Our kids competed very well."
Solis likes his offensive line and will use the same spread offense he utilized at Twinsburg. Seniors Matt Cox (6-foot-2, 235 pounds), Devin Hill (6-1, 285) and Raeshaun Smith (6-2, 295) are the anchors.
"They can move extremely well," Solis said. "Our first five plays (against Perry) went for 12 yards, 8 yards, 25 yards, 12 yards and 6. We controlled the line of scrimmage. Offensively, we're doing the same things we did at Twinsburg, but it seems to me we have a few more playmakers here than we did over there.
"Now we just gotta get them to break their bad habits. ... We need to clean those things up. When they do what they're supposed to do, they're pretty darn good."
Senior Collin Bryant is back at quarterback. Juniors Christian Nogueras and Chris Miller have been impressive at receiver, while Pablo Gonzalez heads a stable of running backs. Senior Brandon Davis was recruited off the basketball team to add depth to the receiving corps.
Solis hand-picked his assistants at Lorain, something he wasn't able to do at Twinsburg.
"And I really like our staff," Solis said. "They're working great with the kids. They're working hard. They're loyal and I can't emphasize that enough."
Solis has good numbers to work with. Seventy-five sophomores through seniors along with about 35 freshmen are out for football. The only downside for Solis is the drive back-and-forth from his Twinsburg home.
"It's about the same amount of driving as I had before," said Solis with a smile, referring to his three-year stint at Elyria. "About 58 miles from my house to here, but things are going real well."
The Titans' schedule is ambitious, starting with Midview, Parma and Avon to open non-league play. The Lake Erie League has just one division this year, but with nine teams competing, it will not play a full schedule. Instead, each school will play six league games. Lorain's date with Bedford will not count in the standings. The Titans will not play Warrensville Heights, one of their two wins a year ago.
"I feel good about playing this schedule," Solis said. "I know what to expect in terms of game-planning. You can't look ahead. You have to take it one week at a time. We're not going to really know where we're at until Week 1, but I like where we're at."
• CONFERENCE: Lake Erie League, Erie Division
• 2010 RECORD: 2-8, 1-3
• COACH: Mark Solis, 1st year as head coach of Lorain, 13th overall (94-37 career)
• RETURNING LETTERMEN: 18
• RETURNING STARTERS: 18
• FAST FACT: Solis led the 2005 Elyria High team to the school’s only playoff appearance.
Aug. 26 Midview
Sept. 2 at Parma (Byers Field)
Sept. 9 at Avon
Sept. 16 Cleveland Hts.* (7:30)
Sept. 24 at Shaker Heights* (2)
Sept. 30 Warren Harding*
Oct. 7 Bedford
Oct. 14 Maple Heights*
Oct. 21 at Euclid*
Oct. 28 at Shaw*
All games 7 p.m. unless noted
* Lake Erie League game
Read more high school football previews:
- Elyria Catholic
- North Ridgeville
- Avon Lake
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.