Youth isn't just being served for the Mentor offense this fall, it is serving up big-time problems for the opposition.
The bad news for those taking on the Cardinals for the next few years is quarterback Ian Kipp is a sophomore and running back Brian Trobel is a junior.
The even worse news for the team on the opposing sideline from Mentor is both are very comfortable and making it look easy in the here and now.
"I think the great thing about both of them is even though the future is bright and the big picture has a chance to be very special, all they are worried about is today. Not Week 8, 9 or 10, 11, 12. Today. This practice on this afternoon. They both get it and for young ones that is aa fantastic characteristic," Mentor offensive coordinator Matt Gray said.
"They worked their tails off in the offseason and when we got to camp they both just took command of their position. We thought they were talented players and they went out and proved it to the coaches and to their teammates and the sky is the limit with how good they can be. They started off the first game so well it really set the bar high."
Week 1 against St. Edward was a showdown of two of the top Division I powers in the state. Kipp and Trobel - both starting varsity for the first time - wasted no time hitting the ground running, literally.
Trobel rushed 24 times for 191 yards and four touchdowns, while Kipp ran 19 times for 174 yards and two scores in the 42-39 win over the Eagles.
"We knew both were going to be good players, but of course to see them come out and play so well in Week 1 against an opponent like St. Edward was certainly nice to see," Trivisonno said.
"I think they are both unique in their own way and don't want to be like anyone else. I think they respect the guys that have played here, but they have characteristics that are unlike some of those guys. And they are young so they aren't going anywhere for a while which is exciting."
A sophomore taking over a position that has produced numerous All-Ohioans, two Mr. Football winners and a No. 2 overall NFL Draft pick is an uncertainty for any program.
However, Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno and his staff knew of Kipp's talent and potential long before he took over as the starter this season.
"Ian is Ian, we knew what kind of talent he was and he has been very solid early on," Trivisonno said.
Kipp has thrown for 671 yards and 7 TDs and has another 332 on the ground and 7 rushing scores through five weeks.
Kipp, Trivisonno and Gray all quickly admit his job and that of Trobel is made much easier having one of Northeast Ohio's top offensive lines, featuring Big 10 recruits Ryan Jacoby and Nick Samac.
Gray said part of the success the two young standouts are having is because of the relationship with seniors and leaders like Jacoby and Samac.
"They are both very humble kids and the program here really polices the locker room and doesn't allow for egos, but we don't worry about it with Ian and Brian because that’s not who they are. They are popular with the upperclassmen and they know their role on the team and are united in the team goal, not individual stats," Gray said.
Trobel is a soft-spoken, but confident junior who transferred from Euclid at the end of his freshman year.
Trobel waited his turn to take over as the main carrier and has made the most of it. He has run for 696 yards and 12 TDs in five weeks.
"To be honest, I did expect this kind of success. I was confident in myself, confident in those big guys in front of me and confident in the whole team," Trobel said. "But, I know we all feel like even though we have played well through five games we haven't really come close to how good we can be."
Kipp recognizes how good those who have played QB before him at Mentor have been. Bart Tanski won Mr. Football in 2007. Mitch Trubisky won the same statewide honor in 2012 and went on to North Carolina before being selected No. 2 overall by the Chicago Bears. Last year he was the backup to All-Ohioan Tadas Tatarunas.
"I know about Tadas and Mitch and the great quarterbacks that have played here, but I am focusing on the present and trying to make my own mark," Kipp said. "I was confident I could step in and play and we just need to remain balanced on offense and keep getting better."
Kipp said being a sophomore will never be something he uses as an excuse on an off night, but so far, he and the Cardinals haven't had any. They are 5-0 and No. 2 in the Division I AP Poll.
Of course, Kipp is quick to point out having another talented underclassman line up in the backfield with him doesn't hurt either.
"Having a talented back like Brian is huge because it takes a lot of pressure off. If I get done with a long run I can turn around the next play and hand it off and watch him run for a big gain," Kipp said. "I think we have good chemistry and work well together. Hopefully, it makes it hard on defenses to game plan for just one of us."
September 28, 2018