Wolf gives his outlook for Comets’ 2015 fall season


By Jason Hawk - jhawk@civitasmedia.com



SWC SHAKE-UP

The Southwestern Conference changes this fall.

Brecksville is out and four teams — Avon, Lakewood, Midview, and North Ridgeville — are in, making the SWC a 10-team league. Amherst already plays those opponents but will now face each twice during the season.

Amherst athletic director Casey Wolf said fans are familiar with the new conference rivals and the Comets regularly compete against them. But the SWC changes do present one advantage: Travel won’t be as extensive as it has been in the past for many match-ups.

Finding a bigger Comets fan than Casey Wolf would be a tall order.

We caught up to the Amherst Schools athletic director Friday as he proudly walked the turf at the Comets football stadium where teams posed for formal fall sports photos.

Wolf, now in his third year heading the green-and-gold machine, gave a rundown of what’s new on each varsity team this season.

FOOTBALL

“This community rallies around football. I think it’s going to be a product that the community can be proud of before and after the season,” Wolf said. “When they come here on Friday nights, they’re going to see the kids working hard and doing a great job representing the community.”

Boys will wear new white uniforms this year when they take the field. The Amherst Quarterback Club helped fund the purchase, matching their hard fundraising efforts that yielded green jerseys for the 2014-2015 season.

Wolf has positive words for the direction head coach Bill Fishleigh is taking the Comets football program, saying there is a tangible energy among his staff.

How that will translate to wins on the field remains to be seen, but Fishleigh himself is cautiously optimistic. He said Amherst will rely on runs this fall and focus on giving the quarterback more options and more protection (read more in our football season preview article).

Wolf is also singing the praise of coach Bill Walker’s freshman squad, which he called “very disciplined and fun to be around.”

He foresees strong players moving up through the ranks in coming years.

CHEERLEADING

Allison Kocheff, who took over as head coach this past winter, is expected to take her girls to the next level this fall.

Cheerleaders are wearing all-new uniforms as they prepare to perform under the Friday night lights. They’ve gone to green and gold to match other Steele High teams.

At the junior varsity level, Jill Williams now serves as coach.

CROSS COUNTRY

Steele runners will have a brand new surface this spring at the Richard S. Cooley Track, but in the meantime they’re gearing up for the rough trails of cross country season.

Girls star Alexis Szivan graduated this past year and is now in her freshman year at Miami University. Wolf said the Comets have strong leaders making a bid to lead the team, which is 42 strong.

“Coach (Terry) Kemp does a tremendous job. Whether it’s reaching the fastest girl or the slowest girl on the team, he reaches everyone on the team. A lot of respect,” Wolf said.

Coach Rob Glatz has grown the boys team into the low 20s and there are young runners coming up who Wolf believes will challenge those who are more experienced.

“Obviously (Glatz) has an amazing passion for running sports teams here at Steele… It’s a lot of fun to watch him coach both track and cross country, and of course he was a star runner here too so he’s invested,” the athletic director said.

Senior Dane Johnson, a four-year runner, is expected to lead the boys.

GOLF

The varsity golf season started Thursday.

Boys coach Aaron Millet watched Adam Cook shoot for 79 to get the Comets off to a sixth-place start in the middle of a Southwestern Conference-heavy tournament pack.

The girls, coached by Dave Zvara, were led by Rachel Miller with a score of 49 (on nine holes). Miller is the lone senior on the girls team.

SOCCER

The Comets boys had an encouraging showing Thursday night in a scrimmage against Brush and Bay.

They played toe-to-toe to a 1-1 tie versus Bay and then took Brush (Lyndhurst) down with four goals in a 40-minute half.

“We’re very encouraged by the energy that coach (Drew) Biedenbach has brought to the program,” Wolf said. Biedenbach, who takes over this year to replace departing coach Brett Thompson, has spent several years with the Comets program.

He’s also worked with extensively with the Amherst Youth Soccer Association, so Wolf anticipates that he’ll bring up a lot of players from those ranks.

The Lady Comets, under coach Gary Gonzalez, are also looking good, with a number of returning key players.

Senior Ally Perkins is on point to lead the Amherst girls, who lost last year to Westlake in the district semifinals.

“They’re another team that should have a very fun season,” Wolf said. “They are really fast. They’re high-pressure. They like to score. They get up and down the field.”

VOLLEYBALL

Keep an eye out for two monster players on the court this year — Madison Cruzado and Ashley Makruski.

Both are committed to Division I college teams, Wolf said. Cruzado plans to play volleyball for Notre Dame while Makruski, a senior, is bound for Kent State.

“They’re an example of how our traditional teams are going to do very well this season,” Wolf said. “Volleyball’s going to be really fun to watch with those two in the lead.”

TENNIS

Comets tennis players have newly-refurbished courts this fall, thanks to anonymous donors.

Wolf said workers patched major cracks and the courts have been painted with a color scheme that mirrors the one used by the U.S. Open.

“It really pops when people go by. It’s a really impressive facility,” he said.

The girls tennis season is an unknown quantity.

The Comets will be young with a lot of players getting their first competitive experience, Wolf said.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk

jhawk@civitasmedia.com

SWC SHAKE-UP

The Southwestern Conference changes this fall.

Brecksville is out and four teams — Avon, Lakewood, Midview, and North Ridgeville — are in, making the SWC a 10-team league. Amherst already plays those opponents but will now face each twice during the season.

Amherst athletic director Casey Wolf said fans are familiar with the new conference rivals and the Comets regularly compete against them. But the SWC changes do present one advantage: Travel won’t be as extensive as it has been in the past for many match-ups.