Aug 27, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Now that it’s reached the point of respectability, the Skaneateles football team wants something more.
Competitive with just about everyone last fall, the Lakers still missed the Section III Class B playoffs. But crossover wins over APW and Canastota to close out the season pushed the team up to 4-5 and created a wave of optimism for 2007.
“We have a tremendous amount of momentum,” said head coach John King.
Keeping that momentum up will require a seamless mix of youthful skill players with experience up front. In fact, all five starters on the offensive line are back, a rare opportunity for Skaneateles to establish some domination in the trenches.
It’s a big group, too. At tackle, Ken Dean goes 270 pounds, while Jon Eppolito checks in at 250 pounds. Right guard Drake Hill and center Eric Stevens also carry 250 pounds, while guard Anthony Navaroli is the “small” guy at 215 pounds.
King said the offensive line is the strength of his team, and their chemistry is strong thanks to working together in off-season conditioning.
With the line well-established, sophomore quarterback Tom Schoener should get plenty of time to acclimate himself to varsity competition without fear that he’ll get hit too much.
At 6-0 and 165 pounds, Schoener (the JV starter a season ago) might be young, but King said he is prepared to step in to this pressurized role.
“He is ready for it,” said King. “He has great footwork and a nice throwing motion, and that will help with our passing game.”
Skaneateles uses a “Veer” offense, a variation on the triple option that few teams in Section run, though Geneva (Section V) does a similar thing and won last year’s state Class B championship.
When the Lakers run, Matt Wood will shoulder most of the load, as he did when he was a junior captain and led the team in yards. Junior Phil Weiss, like Schoener, moves up from the JV ranks and takes over at fullback.
The Lakers will have lots of choices when Schoener throws the ball. Josh Kimm and Ryan Callahan will see equal time at split end as Matt Butterfield works at flanker. George Dobrovsky and Lex Johnson are equally capable of starting at tight end.
Just as on offense, Skaneateles will build its defense around its line. Hill and Thane Green are set to start at end, with Dean and Tyler Dunlap the main choices at tackle. Dobrovsky, Stevens, Eppolito and Ryan Cashen could all be in the rotation, too.
By contrast, Matt Blake provides the only experience at linebacker, returning in the middle as Weiss and Johnson, both juniors, assume the outside posts.
Wood is just as valuable in the secondary as he is running the ball. He starts at strong safety, flanked by Kimm at free safety. Callahan joins a rotation of cornerbacks that include junior newcomers Brandon Forgham and Josh Tracy.
In a relatively short regular season, every game carries extra weight, especially in a Class B West division where Westhill defends the title and challengers like Homer, Solvay and Marcellus all look dangerous, too.
King said it likely will take four wins to reach the post-season, so Friday night’s opener against Solvay is crucial if Skaneateles wants to go places.
“It’s a game where we can match up with them,” said King. “But we don’t want to just play them close. We want to win.”