By SCOTT COTTOS
TIFFIN — David Stosio, like many others, was jolted when he got word that St. Wendelin High School would close after the 2016-17 school year.
Included in that was the realization that his senior year would not be spent in the only school system he’d ever known.
“Just being with your classmates from kindergarten through your junior year and then finding out your school’s closing — it makes it hard,” he said. “But the good thing is most of my classmates are coming here, so at least we’re staying together for our senior year.”
“Here” is Tiffin Calvert, the Catholic high school closest to Fostoria, and now the place for which four St. Wendelin Mohawks will suit up to play football.
After playing in the last season at St. Wendelin, Stosio, juniors Auggie Frohnen and Sam Seibert and sophomore Vinny Volpe will have “Senecas” across their chest during games this season.
“It’s definitely different,” Volpe said on Monday afternoon after coach Todd Fox’s squad wrapped things up at its Charlotte Street facility on the first official day of high school football practice in Ohio. “It’s a lot different. But it’s enjoyable.
“The biggest difference is there are a lot more boys here. At St. Wendelin, we only had (19) and we had to drop down to eight-on-eight because of injuries. Over here at Calvert, there are (44) boys, so you don’t have to worry, if someone gets injured, whether there’s somebody there to replace him.”
A senior-dominated Mohawks team last season posted a 3-7 record after playing half of its games in the conventional 11-on-11 fashion and the other half with eight per side.
Though St. Wendelin competed in the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division in all of its other sports, it was independent in football due to its struggle with numbers. The former Mohawks are now playing for the defending SBC River champions, who posted a 7-3 overall record with victories in all of its five league games before falling to Convoy Crestview in the Division VII playoffs.
“The mindset’s a lot different here,” Stosio said. “They have a championship mindset. And over at St. Wendelin, not a lot of people had that. It was a matter of keeping the program going.”
The former Mohawks are looking forward to an opportunity to go to the postseason with a team that brings back 12 all-league performers among 24 players who have lettered either at Calvert or St. Wendelin.
And Fox is happy to have the former Mohawks aboard.
“I’m excited about what they can bring to us,” the Senecas’ eighth-year coach said. “That persistence and perseverance through a lot of adversity — they’re going to teach us some things.
“Since official enrollment time came, they’ve been here every day. They’ve been very good, very dedicated. That’s something else: They’re traveling 30 minutes a day, at least, one way, early in the morning. We started at 7 (today), and they were here. It shows a lot about them as people.”
The St. Wendelin foursome also arrived with abundant experience due to the numbers situation under which they previously played.
“All four of them have played more football than most kids their age typically have,” said Eric Perkins, a former athletic director and assistant football coach at St. Wendelin.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Volpe was the Mohawks’ leading tackler last season as a linebacker. As of now, he’s in a situation of playing behind a pair of all-River Division inside linebackers in senior Conner Kwiat and junior Josh Recker.
“Vinny is developing real well as a sophomore and giving us some depth at inside linebacker that we’ve needed,” Fox said. “The two guys ahead of him who are returning are pretty talented, so he’ll have the ability to learn from them as we get better.”
The 5-10, 175-pound Stosio, who played many positions at St. Wendelin, is being looked at as a running back or receiver on offense and as a member of the secondary on defense.
“We have him at tailback, which is a deep position for us right now, but some of that versatility is helping him out because he jumped into the slot in some of our last seven-on-seven workouts and looked pretty good there, too,” he said. “Today was our first full practice, and David, with 11-on-11, I think his eyes opened up a little bit and he looked very good for us on the offensive side of the ball.”
Frohnen brings a 6-9, 307-pound physique to the mix at offensive guard and defensive end.
“Anytime you have a kid on the team who’s 6-9, you’re excited,” Fox said. “When you first get a kid that size, you wonder, ‘Oh, can he move?’ This young man — he’s talented. He’s got some great feet, he works really hard and he’s a great person, which makes it even easier and better for us.”
Seibert, at 5-10 and 165 pounds, will line up at wide receiver on offense and as a defensive back.
“He’s very talented and very fun,” Fox said. “They call him ‘Sunshine’ on the team. He’s fit in with his personality on this team very well. We’re going to continue to improve his overall abilities.”
Fox and the players said the newcomers have received a warm welcome to the team.
“I thought they would be pretty accepting,” Stosio said. “I didn’t really expect anything different than what’s been going on.”
“It couldn’t be better. I like everyone. Everyone kind of likes me — at least I hope,” Volpe said with a laugh. “These are all just really good guys. They’ve all been accepting and welcomed all four of us in very easily.”
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