by Frank AcetO
Associate Sports Editor
Don't be surprised if you see name tags on the members of the Tallmadge boys golf team.
That's because the 2016 Blue Devils look nothing like last year's squad.
Tallmadge is in rebuilding mode after losing six seniors, including its top five players, to graduation last fall.
Leading the list of graduates is Jared Landwehr, a Suburban League American Conference second-team choice who was the lone Blue Devils to qualify for a Division I district tournament.
Also graduating was Jimmy Filko, a second-team American Conference pick and honorable mention all-district pick.
The rest of the players who graduated were Austin Sigman, Jake DiFiore, J.P. Allen and Chad Green.
"This will be the definition of a rebuilding year for us, with so little experience coming back," said 14th-year head coach Jon Shomo, who is 93-42 overall and has guided Tallmadge to five Suburban League titles. "We have a good number of young guys who want to get better and three guys who have been around for awhile and know the high school golf scene well."
Last year, the Blue Devils finished 6-6 overall and 3-3 in their first year in the American Conference.
Tallmadge's lone letter winner from 2015 is sophomore Noah Bowser. Also expected to contribute are seniors Austin Moore and Jake Pallotta.
The lone junior on the team is Jake Kanatzar. The rest of the sophomore class features Luke Caruso, Zack DeRita, Brandon Gray, Devin Pouliot, Jacob Reifsnyder and Liam Tokash.
Rounding out the squad are freshmen Cameron Hill, Andrew Nelson, Alex Peters and Nate Stroud.
The junior varsity coach is Jon Karnuth.
Tallmadge finished sixth in the American Conference at the 2015 Suburban League Postseason Tournament. Highland is the defending conference champion.
"Our conference is very competitive, with two-time defending champion Highland, Aurora, Kent Roosevelt, Copley and Revere all returning some strong players," Shomo said.
The veteran Blue Devils coach knows his team might have a few bumps in the road. But he's looking forward to the challenge.
"We have a lot of guys who will be learning the ropes," Shomo said. "We hope to spend a lot of our time teaching and will stress improvement from August until early October. Our goal is for our players to show clear improvement during this season."
Tallmadge was scheduled to begin its 2016 season at the Suburban League Preseason Tournament Aug. 5 at Windmill Lakes Golf Club in Ravenna. Results were not available at press time.
The Blue Devils are set to compete at the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy Invitational Aug. 8 at Silver Lake Country Club. Play is scheduled to begin at 8:45 a.m.
They are set to compete at the Nordonia Invitational Aug. 9 (8 a.m.) at Ellsworth Meadows Golf Club in Hudson and the Twinsburg Invitational Aug. 11 (8:30 a.m.) at Glen Eagles Golf Club.