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Football Warriors hit road for '08 odyssey

At least in 2008, and perhaps longer than that, the Liverpool football team will find itself boarding a bus every weekend -- even when they're supposed to be at "home".

An unsafe artificial turf at Warrior Stadium, combined with rejections of plans to replace it with something new, has forced many Liverpool sports teams to look elsewhere.

In the case of the football Warriors, it means going north, to Central Square, for games against Corcoran (Sept. 12) and Utica Proctor (Oct. 3). And it also means trips to Solvay's Earl Hadley Stadium, familiarly known as "The Pit", for its Sept. 19 game with CBA and its Oct. 18 regular-season finale against Fayetteville-Manlius.

Head coach Dave Mancuso said he, like his players, are not pleased with the whole scenario, but are determined to make the best of it.

"The kids are a bit frustrated," he said. "But it doesn't matter who we play or where we play them -- we have to focus on ourselves. We can only focus on the things we can control, and we can control whether we win or lose."

Liverpool has won plenty the last two seasons -- enough to get to the Section III Class AA semifinals on both occasions, only to fall to Rome Free Academy in 2006 and West Genesee (the eventual state champions) in 2007.

To take that next step to a title, Mancuso and his players have focused on building team chemistry through off-season activities like a March basketball tournament and a barbecue at Syracuse University's football spring game in April. This, in addition to all the strength and conditioning programs the players go through.

No doubt, the talent is there. The Warriors took some graduation hits with the departure of stars like T.J. Davis, Mike Suatoni, Dom Caruso, Ricky Azzoto and Pat Single. But it also brings up a large group of players that dominated the JV ranks with an undefeated record in '07 and want to do the same at the varsity level.

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