CAMBRIDGE - The Cambridge football program is now under the Gunn.
Rick Goodrich, who transformed a downtrodden Bobcats program into a regular playoff participant in his tenure, has opted to move on to John Marshall. The former Bridgeport football and track great leaves behind a decade-long success story at the Guernsey County school.
The Bobcats are now led by high-energy Kevin Gunn. No one knows Cambridge football better than the longtime Bobcats assistant.
He was born and bred Blue & White, playing for the Bobcats before matriculating to Muskingum College. After he picked up his Muskies diploma, he returned to his roots.
He has served as an assistant for 26 years and has taught special education in the district for 24.
Suffice to say, Gunn is loaded with Bobcats football background.
Aug. 24: at John Marshall7:30 p.m.
Aug. 31: at Mt. Vernon7:30 p.m.
Sept. 7: at River View7 p.m.
Sept. 14: New Philadelphia7:30 p.m.
Sept. 21: Sheridan7:30 p.m.
Sept. 28: at Marietta7:30 p.m.
Oct. 5: East Liverpool7 p.m.
Oct. 12: Dover7:30 p.m.
Oct. 19: at Zanesville7:30 p.m.
Oct. 26: Meadowbrook7:30 p.m.
Win 6, Lose 4
In an ironic twist of fate, Gunn's inaugural regular-season game will be against Goodrich's Monarchs in Moundsville.
"I have always aspired to become a head football coach. This is a dream come true for me," Gunn said.
"I have been Cambridge all my life. Everything has been going awesome for me as head coach."
Gunn's initial voyage as Bobcats head man may have some rough spots. The Blue & White lost a great deal of talent from last year's 8-2 squad. The Bobcats also feature a small senior class, just five total returning starters and a schedule that is nothing short of brutal.
Cambridge is a member of the ECOL which means it must butt heads with powers Dover, Coshocton and New Philadelphia. The out-of-conference slate may be even more challenging with the likes of Sheridan, Mount Vernon and East Liverpool on the card.
"We have no breathers on our schedule but we would have it no other way," Gunn noted. "We know John Marshall will be an emotional game, but we cannot make it bigger than it is. Win or lose we must get ready for Game 2."
Although his senior class is not big on numbers, he is big on them.
"We have a group of great kids in our seniors. They have displayed tremendous leadership," Gunn stated. "They have instilled a great sense of camaraderie. Every day has been enjoyable.
"With any school regardless of size, injuries are pivotal. We will have 60-plus players in the high school program but we cannot afford to lose our key players. But the kids have conditioned well and worked hard in the weight room. We are looking forward to the season."
Gunn boasts an infectious positive personality. One that will likely rub off on his players and staff alike.
"I love our team speed. We need to get our kids in space and allow them to make plays. Our speed will play big into our success this season," Gunn noted. "We will change up our offense some this year to make better use of our athletes. In years past, we have been a more grind-it-out team. We now hope to spread it out more.
"We also have nice size on the offensive line which is always a plus," he said. "Our big asset, however, may be our desire as a team to get better through a great work ethic."
Gunn will entrust his offense to a sophomore. Caleb Tingle is the likely starter at quarterback. The 165-pounder boasts an ability to run and pass effectively, but needs seasoning. Junior Jacob Schubert (185) is Tingle's backup.
The Bobcats may air it out more this year but they still have a top-shelf tailback to key the ground game. Trevor Hardesty returns to serve as the wheelhorse of the rushing attack. The two-year letterman is a 200-pound junior.
The fullback will be tough-minded Ayden Howell. He is a 210-pound junior, also with two letters on his resume.
Providing backup at running back will be senior Dillon Sunnafrank, a 195-pound, two-year letterwinning senior and 135-pound junior letterwinner Ivan Gradson.
Logan Helmick, another member of a talented junior class, will be the tight end. He is a 6-foo-4, 215-pounder with two letters to his credit.
Helmick's backup will be junior Clifford Clark. He is a 6-3, 205-pound letterwinner.
Gunn's decision to open things up offensively can be traced to wideout, where two veteran and talented seniors return to their starting posts. Sawyer Leppla is a sure-handed, 6-1, 195-pounder while JD Demkowicz is a shifty 155-pounder. Both are working on their third letters.
Devon Francis is a quality backup as well as a nice-sized target. He is a 6-3, 210-pound senior with two letters.
The offensive line does boast bulk.
The best of the group may be senior guard Kamden Payton. The 190-pounder is a two-year letterman who possesses good feet and nastiness.
His running mate will be Matt Dalton. The 225-pound junior is looking for his initial letter.
Brandon Brown has some huge shoes to fill at center. The mammoth 6-5, 240-pounder is a two-year letterman. He must replace Caleb Gunn, a four-year starter at center for the Bobcats and son of the new head coach. He was a two-time All-Ohioan.
The tackles should be an area of strength and size. Cody Huffman holds down one side and is a 6-3, 285-pounder working on his third letter. He has a chance to be one of the premier offensive lineman in the ECOL.
His partner at tackle will be Kordell Stage. He also has impressive size, checking in at 6-4, 260 pounds.
Two sophomores - Zac Ford and Brock Cline - will provide tackle depth. Both are 205-pounders. Logan Hickenbottom, a 160-pound sophomore, will be a top reserve at guard.
The Bobcats' speed touted by Gunn will be reflected in a unique defensive alignment. The Blue & White will set up its defensive shop in a 4-2-5 look.
Helmick and Howell will be forces at defensive end. Stage and Dalton will get the first call at tackles and will be backed up by 285-pound junior Darren Glover and 275-pound junior Richard Berg.
Hardesty will return at linebacker and should be one of the finest in the OVAC. Clark is the other likely starter.
Gadson will open at one cornerback post and will be joined by talented Errik Snell, a 160-pound sophomore.
Demkowicz will also be a regular in the secondary with Francis also in the hunt.
The safety duties will likely be manned by promising 160-pound sophomore Tone Turner.
Cody Engstrom, a 130-pound letterwinning senior, is back to handle kicking duties.
Cambridge had some challenging scrimmages, highlighted by a battle with Steubenville.
Gunn is surrounded by a quality and veteran staff, which was bolstered by the addition of Tim Wilson, a former Shadyside High standout who resigned as Shenandoah's head coach this spring.
The staff includes more local flavor in the person of Tut Turner, a Wheeling native.
The balance of the assistants include Eric Sholtis, Rob Ferhman, a former Meadowbrook High and Bowling Green tight end who had a short NFL stay; James Beatty, Jake Tharp, Bob Mascolino; JR Fox; Ben Lames, Tony James, Paul Fields and Mark Able.