EAST LIVERPOOL-With a 5-5 record, East Liverpool may not have had a standout football team last fall, but the Potters did boast a pair of fine two-way players in Zack English and John Miscuk.
On offense, English-in his first year at tailback-had a 1,000 yard rushing season with Miscuk paving the way at fullback. On defense, Miscuk wreaked havoc from his linebacker spot, while English roamed the secondary and finished the year with four interceptions.
The duo will get one last chance to leave their mark in the 35th annual Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic Friday at Springfield High School.
"I wish we would have done better last year, but it was fun playing with Zack," Miscuk said. "He's very talented. He really broke out in his senior year."
English carved a winding path to Friday's game.
As a freshman, he was admittedly not enthusiastic about working out and decided not to play his sophomore year, opting for soccer instead.
"I was really little as a freshman," said the 6-foot-1, 160-pound English. "I didn't really want to lift weights or do any of the extra work I needed to get bigger and stronger."
A year away from the game renewed English's hunger and he was back on the football field as a junior, playing at wideout.
"Playing soccer, I found out that I liked football a lot better," English said. "I started working a lot harder my junior year."
English was converted to tailback for his senior season and blossomed, eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark in the final game of the season against Weirton. His 274 yards in that game is the third highest single-game rushing total in school history.
"The coaches really pushed me hard this year," English said. "The hard work paid off."
Miscuk provided a steady presence during his three years as a starter. Though he never started for a winning team, Miscuk still exits East Liverpool with plenty of memories.
"I just loved going out there every week and competing," Miscuk said. "I loved going after the quarterback the most. There was nothing like blitzing and getting a sack."
Both Miscuk and English agreed that playing Beaver Local stood out more than any other game on the schedule. The two enjoyed looking back at the Potters 20-16 win over the Beavers last fall which snapped a two-game losing streak to their rivals.
"That was the biggest game of the year for us," English said. "They've always been a rival for us. We were fired up to play them. I'll always remember being on defense when we stopped them to win the game."
"The Beaver Local game always had a different feel than the other games," Miscuk said. "The preparation was always intense. They were making a comeback in the fourth quarter of last year's game. I was able to make a couple of key tackles late in the game that helped us out."
Miscuk will continue his football career past Friday night when he plays at Notre Dame College in Cleveland this fall.
"I'm excited," said Miscuk-who will major in accounting. "I'm going there to get my education first, but the football experience should be great too."
Meanwhile, English -who is attending Eastern Gateway Community College-will take the field for the final time on Friday.
"I had a great time playing on the varsity these last two years," English said. "John was a great guy to play with. Playing with him in this game is a good way to go out."