Sep 01, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
If excitement and unpredictability were the sole measures of football success, then the Bishop Grimes football team would be basking in championship glory.
As it is, all the Cobras got with Brad Trimm, Pete Penizotto and the rest of its high-octane offense in 2007 was a 3-4 regular-season mark. Still, a few more points, posted in two different games (against Watertown IHC and Weedsport), might have meant a trip to the Section III Class D playoffs.
Yet even with the departures of stars like Trimm, Pete Penizotto and Keith Kwasigroch, the Cobras have more participation on the varsity level this fall — 21 players, after having just 16 at the end of last fall’s campaign.
Head coach Brad Keysor said that all 21 of those players can play key roles in 2008, which might lessen the need for players to go both ways and, consequently, lead to more energy in the fourth quarter, when so many games are decided.
Keysor knew that Grimes’ biggest challenge would be replacing Trimm, whose 2,444 passing yards last fall was the ninth-highest single-season total in state history.
Yet a sophomore is ready for that daunting challenge. Dave Campese, already a Grimes standout as a baseball pitcher, now takes his turn on the gridiron, bringing a strong arm and giving Keysor lots of confidence.
“Brad has got a cannon arm,” said Keysor. “He’s come a long way and will do well.”
For those that question anyone succeeding Trimm, consider that Trimm didn’t even start until ’07, then made the most of his one season at the helm.
Keeping the spread offense intact, Grimes is counting on a group of talented, yet unproven receivers to match the big numbers Penizotto (79 catches, 1,167 yards, 16 touchdowns) put down as a senior.
Three returning juniors — Antron Irby, Tayvon Moore and Neciefe (J.J.) Reddick — are expected to catch most of Campese’s passes, though Keysor said Mike Lang might find himself in the same go-to role where Penizotto flourished. Steve Dillmore brings a veteran senior presence to the tight end spot.
When the Cobras don’t throw, Tommy DeSocio will carry the ball at running back. Reddick and Irby could line up as backs, too, to give DeSocio a breather.
On the offensive line, Grimes returns John Smith (195 pounds) at center and Jake DeGarie (230 pounds) at right tackle. Andrew Lasnicki (195 pounds) takes over the other tackle spot, while 295-pound sophomore Ben Ridley and Luke Tucci (250) make for an imposing pair of new guards.
Keysor said he uses big guards to stop middle rushes of men with similar build, then smaller tackles to move quickly and maneuver with the ends intent on getting to the quarterback.
As far as the Cobras’ own defense is concerned, it likes to use up to five defensive backs. Reddick and sophomore Mike Trimpano are the front-runners to start at cornerback, while Kasey Kwasigroch moves in at strong safety and Irby works at free safety.
Smith and Dillmore might, at times, be the only linebackers on the field, working behind a line where Lasnicki and Paul Frawley work at the end spots and Nate Hewitt and Mike Fonak lead a deep group of tackles.
A slight Class D alteration trimmed the alignment from three divisions to two, with Grimes in D West, a brutal division where Onondaga, Weedsport and Watertown IHC are the favorites, even if OCS saw Latavius Murray run off to Central Florida. In all, eight teams are in the league, and the top four will get in the playoffs.
As a special treat, the Cobras begin play Friday against Sandy Creek in the Carrier Dome, the first time any of these players have gone through the Dome experience. With tough games against Weedsport and IHC later in September, Keysor said he had modest goals.
“If we get through our first four games 2-2, we’ll get a playoff shot,” he said. And no matter what, it will likely be a lot of fun finding out if he’s right.