Aug 31, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
The slow, steady turnaround of the Skaneateles football program under head coach John King continues — and in 2008, it has a good chance of tasting the post-season.
Last fall, the Lakers came close, finishing fifth in Class B West, one game behind Homer for the last playoff spot. But by winning both of its crossover games, Skaneateles finished 5-4, a winning record that gave everyone in blue and gold confidence going into this season.
One primary challenge confronts King on the offensive side — finding some balance. Matt Wood, who broke the Lakers’ single-season rushing record in 2007 with 1,575 yards, has graduated, leaving the team without its most reliable option.
With Wood gone, junior quarterback Tom Schoener will assume a larger role. He started every game under center as a sophomore, taking his time adjusting to the varsity level — a luxury he could afford with Wood in the backfield.
Now, said King, Schoener is a confident, poised leader whom his teammates rely on.
“”He’s more vocal and taking charge of the offense,” said King. “He has matured nicely.”
Aiming to pass more, Schoener will direct those throws at receivers like senior Ryan Callahan and junior Paul Hamilton. At tight end, Lex Johnson and Tyler McQuiggan are battling for starting duties, but both will see significant playing time.
Brandon Forgham has been handed the tall task of succeeding Wood at tailback. What will help, for sure, is that Phil Weiss returns at fullback after doing such a terrific job in ’07 plowing the way for Wood’s record numbers.
A brand-new offensive line must step up quickly. Drake Hill (265 pounds) is the lone returning starter, moving from guard to tackle as he, along with sophomore guard Scott Bruening (225 pounds), protect Schoener’s blind side.
Ryan Cashen (175 pounds) takes over at center, flanked on his right side by Cal Winkelman (255 pounds) at guard and Dan Halliday (280 pounds), a big right tackle.
On a deep defensive line that will work within a 4-3 set, Hill is the main star at tackle, though Winkelman, Bruening and Halliday will all take turns on the field. Josh Tracy works at one end, while Cashen and Dylan VanHoltz continue to vie for the other end spot.
Skaneateles is set at linebacker, as Weiss starts in the middle and McQuiggan and Johnson work outside. In the secondary, Schoener, who did not play much defense in 2007, will get his chance at safety, with Hamilton in the same role. Forgham and Callahan make for a pair of solid cornerbacks.
The departure of Jordan-Elbridge and LaFayette shrinks Class B West to just six teams — Skaneateles, Marcellus, Phoenix, Homer, Solvay and Westhill. And overall, Class B has just 11 entries, with eight getting to reach the playoffs. In theory, that should make the road easier for any contender.
However, King said every team in Class B is capable of winning games and making deep post-season runs, and added that his team must stay healthy (there’s just 28 players on the varsity roster) if it wants to join the fray.
“It’s going to be competitive,” said King. “But I like our chances with the kids we’ve got.”