Experienced QB has Poland thinking playoffs
August 8, 2018


Ryan Williams will be entering his third season as head coach of the Poland football team in 2018.

The Bulldogs saw a four win increase from year one in Williams' second season at the helm. A sensational 7-0 start had the Bulldogs blazing, but a stumble down the stretch cost them dearly. Poland ended 2017 with an 8-3 mark, which included a 13-7 loss to Cardinal Mooney in the state playoffs. Although another four-win uptick this season may be a bit too difficult to achieve, advancing past week one of the postseason may not be. The reason for that can be found behind center.

Senior Cole Kosco returns to the Bulldogs for his fourth and final season at quarterback. The 6-foot-3 Kosco has been calling the signals in Poland since his freshman season and evolved enormously in year number three. He set career highs with 895 yards passing and ten touchdowns, which were more TD's than in his first two campaigns combined. He also completed 62 passes. Meanwhile, Poland's offense saw their scoring output jump from 25.7 points per game in 2016 to 33.8 last year. That is no coincidence.

"Our strength is our experience at the quarterback position," said Williams. "Having a player like (Kosco) gives us a big advantage."

A big problem for Coach Williams is that three of his top rushers and the same amount of his leading receivers all graduated last summer. That was close to 3000 yards of combined offense that walked out the door. Keeping Kosco upright may also prove challenging because two All-All American Conference offensive linemen (Drew Davies and Nick Sabrin) also got their diplomas.

Making matters worse for Williams is that his defense has lost even more players than his offense. Poland's defense allowed just 12.4 ppg last fall, but a vast majority of the starters from that stingy group are gone. Those holes will be hard for the Bulldogs to fill.

"Our biggest challenge is the need to replace eight defensive starters," said Williams.

Perhaps the return of senior Scott Campbell may alleviate some of his coach's pain. The 6-foot-5 lineman was a 2nd team All-AAC selection a year ago and is in line to move up to the 1st team this year. He should be the anchor Poland's defense needs up front.

Year after year Poland has churned out some special players on its special teams unit and this season should be no different. With an offense that should be in the Red Zone a lot this year a strong kicking game will be counted upon heavily. Conversely, with such a young defense, pinning opposing offenses deep in their own territory with great punting will be paramount too. The coach noted the competition his team is fielding for both kicker spots this summer is eye-popping.

"Our special teams will also be a strength," said Williams.

Speaking of strengths, Poland's strength of schedule is again daunting. Two road tilts at Marlington and Niles kick off the year, but a five game home stretch from September 7 through October 5 should calm things down. Of course, the most colossal clash on the slate is the October 26 finale at arch nemesis Canfield. This could be the last time these two storied rivals face each other on the gridiron since Poland is leaving the AAC after this year to join the newly formed Northeast 8 conference. Canfield enters this season as a top 20 team in the state so the stakes for that season ending showdown could be sky high. The Cardinals whitewashed their rivals 38-0 in Week 10 a season ago. A win by the Bulldogs this year will not only gain them a sense of revenge, but would also tie a giant blue and white bow on this gift of a historic game.


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