Niagara Gazette — YOUNGSTOWN — When Jon Hoover took over as head coach of the Lewiston-Porter football team after the 2011 season, he set out to change the attitude within a struggling program.
Hoover instituted grueling two-a-day practices in the weeks leading up to the 2012 opener, and the approach worked as his rough-and-tumble Lancers finished with a surprising 6-3 record and a Class B playoff berth.
The summer program remained the same in 2013, and Hoover hopes the results follow despite the loss of a group of talented graduates.
“We’re not the biggest team, not the most talented team,” Hoover said, “but we work hard, which has been the focus since I became head coach. That’s what we wanted to do, change the attitude of the program and make sure we work as hard as we can.
“We had a good season last year. We didn’t accomplish all of our goals, but we did change that attitude. We finished games late with lesser talent, I don’t have a problem saying that. Teams had more talent than we did, but we had the hard work and a lot more heart than they did, and that was the difference between 6-3 and 3-6.”
Leading the way this season will be a pair of running backs in Dan Hogan and Zac Nalbone. The two split time in the backfield in 2012 and will be looked toward to take on an even bigger role following the graduation of quarterback Josh Daul and wide receiver Billy Schiavitti and Dan Reagan.
Hogan, the “Crash” to Nalbone’s “Dash,” is one of the few varsity holdovers from 2011, when the Lancers went 1-8 before Hoover took over.
“The turnaround from sophomore year is unbelievable,” he said. “That year was a struggle. Some kids didn’t want to play anymore, then Hoover comes in and changes everyone’s mentality and gets everyone excited to play. He’s a huge motivator. He makes everyone better and it showed last year.”