Due to another reshuffling of the enrollment standards statewide, the Oneida football team finds itself back in the Class B ranks after a brief stay in Class A. And it might be just in time for the Indians to contend for a championship again.
In that higher bracket each of the last two years, Oneida went 4-5, winning both crossover games in 2007 following a 2-5 struggle. According to head coach Bill Carinci, it served as a long growing process for a young squad, many of whom assumed starting roles as sophomores in '06.
Now, Indians fans hope the time has come for all that youthful promise to turn into mature success. Of the 38 players on the varsity roster, 17 are entering their third year, including a majority of the starting lineup.
Together, they move into a five-team Class B East division where four teams will make the playoffs. Chittenango also moved down from Class A. Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, South Jefferson and Holland Patent stay in place.
Starting under center for the third year in a row, Ryan Kramer threw for more than 1,000 yards in '07. While he never might approach the numbers of his older brother, Rob (who went on to guide St. John Fisher to the NCAA Division III semifinals), Kramer's strong arm and speed make him a dangerous quarterback on many fronts.
As in the last two years, Kramer will be aiming his throws at senior receivers Brandon Miles and Joe McCormick. A new tight end is needed to succeed Dale Ano, with Wade Kline and Nate Mallinder both in the running to start.
Oneida also has plenty of options at running back. Rick Rossi, Chris Janes and Jesse Christian return and will share the duties. They are equally capable of being tailbacks or fullbacks, and they'll stay fresh, especially when the Indians use single-back formations.