Zanesville scouting report: Blue Devils still adjusting after losing major portion of 2013 playoff team
ZANESVILLE — Like the Logan Chieftains in 2010, the Zanesville Blue Devils have spent most of 2014 learning how difficult is to replace one of — if not the best — football classes in school history.
Gone are a record-setting quarterback, talented receivers, and the bulk of a defense that dominated opponents in reaching the state Division II semifinals.
The one advantage ZHS has over that Logan team is continuity on the coaching staff, with Chad Grandstaff returning for his eighth year in charge of the Blue Devils. Grandstaff is 61-23 at Zanesville and a staggering 72-25 overall in his head coaching career.
The five teams combine for only five losses, including two undefeated teams.
So far, Zanesville has topped Newark (31-14) and Cambridge (42-6) while falling to Athens (66-28), Sheridan (15-0), Tri-Valley (35-0), Dover (28-21) and New Philadelphia (31-17).
On offense, the Blue Devils are averaging just under 20 points and 263 yards per game. Derek Grandstaff (6-4, 180, junior) started the season at quarterback, but suffered an injury during the Tri-Valley game.
Seniors Justin Murphy (5-10, 175) and A.C. Cronin (6-1, 175) have moved into the lineup in place of Grandstaff.
Murphy has played the bulk of the snaps, completing 28-of-46 passes for 339 yards with three touchdowns and five interceptions while running for 90 yards and a score on 27 carries. Cronin is 12-of-26 passing for 156 yards and a score while running for 23 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown.
Jeremiah Jones (5-11, 185, senior) has carried the load in the backfield, rushing for 583 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 107 carries while catching seven passes for 55 yards.
Deaunte Goins (5-10, 195, junior), Lucas Fogle (5-9, 185, senior), and Leondre Crosby (6-0, 220, junior) will all see time in the backfield as well.
The receiving corps is led by Alessio Amato (5-9, 175, junior) and Olajuwon Pettiford (5-7, 155, senior). Amato leads the team with 21 catches for 332 yards and four scores, with Pettiford contributing 14 catches for 206 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Ben Kaufman (5-9, 160, junior), one of the few returning starters, has five catches for 36 yards despite missing multiple games due to injury. Eli Chambers (5-10, 170, senior) has also emerged as a pass-catching threat after sitting out the first five games.
The Blue Devils average 256 pounds from tackle to tackle, led by a Division I prospect, guard Coulter Wilson (6-5, 300, junior).
Joining Wilson up front are tackles Tavian Butts (6-4, 235, junior) and Parker Mason (6-3, 255, junior), guard Drew Hoskinson (6-0, 265, junior), and center Colton Curry (6-0, 225, senior).
Defensively, the Blue Devils rely on quickness and athleticism to disrupt opposing offenses, especially up front where their undersized but aggressive front line often gets behind the line of scrimmage.
Clay Mason (6-0, 195, senior) and Tristan Garnes (6-3, 195, senior) are the ends with Goins and Phillip Cohen (5-9, 185, senior) playing on the inside.
Crosby and Fogle man the two linebacker positions. Depending on game situations, either Brady Rollins (5-8, 185, senior) or Ja-Quan Mathews (5-8, 145, junior) will play at linebacker or nickel back defensively.
Kaufman is a returning starter at cornerback and is joined by Chambers, with Ace Shyrock (5-8, 155, senior) adding depth. Amato and Pettiford are the safeties. Amato will play more like a centerfielder, providing the last line of defense while Pettiford will play all over the field and is equally skilled in the box against the running game as he is in pass coverage.
Logan Graham (6-3, 180, senior) will handle the placekicking, where he has converted 4-of-5 field goal attempts. Grandstaff or Crosby will do the punting with Amato, Pettiford and Kaufman all returning kicks and punts.
Logan football historian Spencer Waugh of loganfootball.com previews the Chiefs’ opponent every Thursday in The Logan Daily News.