Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Cardinal seniors close out successful careers

Cardinal’s 2015 football season didn’t go as planned but the 10 seniors who ended their careers at Richard A. Moss Stadium on Friday have plenty to be proud of.

That group, led by all-conference players Lester Troyer and Noah Farmwald, guided the Huskies to three winning seasons in their four years, highlighted by the 8-2 record in 2014.

Bryn Havel, Nate Peters, Justin Warren, Jake Francis and Cody Naftzger also made major contributions to the team over the past several years.

“Last year we were 8-2, didn’t make the playoffs but had a successful year and Noah was a big part of that,” said Cardinal coach Eric Cardinal. “(He’s a two-way CVC player and a two-way all-county player. Lester was a big part of that. Nate peters has been a big part of that. He’s a three-year letterman for us. Justin was injured for us last year. He has played two years and had some success, but they were all part of those teams.”

Cardinal posted back-to-back 6-4 seasons in 2012 and 2013 and also defeated rival Berkshire in three out of their four seasons.

This group of seniors enjoyed more success than any other Cardinal team dating back to the 2002 squad that finished the regular season undefeated and won a game in the playoffs.

The 2015 season was supposed to be one filled with promise.

Instead, injuries decimated the Huskies leaving the roster filled with younger players who normally cut their teeth on Saturday mornings.

Even with 10 seniors, the Huskies’ lineup was heavily weighted toward younger or inexperienced players.

Troyer and Farmwald missed several games and a handful of the seniors were first year players.

“There’s 10 seniors and three or four of them, this is the first year they’ve ever played, so as a group it’s a small group of four-year players,” Cardinal said. “The guys that came out this year, it would be great if they were juniors, even better if they were sophomores, because they were athletes, a basketball player and two wrestlers, but they obviously ran out of time. I think that’s a factor of a pay to play; you get people who maybe concentrate on a sport because that’s what they feel they’re best at.”

Brandon Neikirk and Craig Shanower enjoyed plenty of success on the mat before joining the football team as seniors.

Both contributed heavily on special teams.

“They’re good athletes but they probably thought their chances for success overall were better in wrestling than in football,” Cardinal said. “They came out this year and did well but it’s a too little, too late kind of thing. That’s taking nothing away from them.”

With Troyer and Farmwald missing time or playing at less than 100-percent, the Huskies were without two of the most feared two-way players in Geauga County.

Farmwald, a unanimous choice for team captain, earned all-conference and all-county honors last season. He played this year with a torn labrum and still finished second on the team in tackles.

“To give you (an) idea of the torn labrum, he basically can sublux his shoulder both frontward and backward without the brace,” Cardinal said. “(It) pops in and out a few times per game. Noah is disappointed with his senior year, but what a role model of determination he is.”

Troyer, also an all-CVC performer in 2014, tore his ACL in the off-season but didn’t realize it until football drills started in the summer. He opted to play with the injury rather than miss his senior season.

He would have returned as Cardinal’s leading rusher with over 700 yards last season but instead focused just on defense.

“The injuries to the above two players had enormous negative impact on our team,” Cardinal said. “(They are) irreplaceable players.”

Havel played all over the field for the Huskies this season.

“(He is) a real soldier who does everything asked of him including switching positions to help the team when injuries occurred,” Cardinal said.

Havel played center, guard and tackle on offense and three different positions on defense.

Peters led the Huskies in rushing and also handled the punting duties and Warren, who lettered as a sophomore but was injured as a junior, was a two-way player on the line.

Francis began the year at wide receiver but moved over to quarterback when Kyle Simms transitioned to running back to fill in for injured players. He also started at defensive back the past two years.

Naftzger was another first-year senior.

A standout on the Huskies basketball team, he saw part-time duty at outside linebacker.

“He would have great potential for next year if not a senior,” Cardinal said.

Trey Houston also saw time on special teams and limited action on the offensive and defensive lines.

“Maybe the most dedicated, gung-ho member of our team,” Cardinal said.



Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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