Aug 26, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
All through the 2010 regular season, the Jordan-Elbridge football team will find itself heading somewhere else for its important action.
Construction work at the school has forced the Eagles to play nothing but road games — trips to Cato-Meridian, Tully, Syracuse Institute of Technology, Bishop Ludden, LaFayette and Altmar-Parish-Williamstown, plus an Oct. 8 clash with Thousand Islands at Central Square.
Even pre-season practices went off the J-E campus — to the middle school, to be exact. Combine this with the fact that the Eagles went 1-8 a season ago, and it can prove quite discouraging.
Yet head coach Mike Smart said that his 28-player varsity roster has gladly accepted the situation, however adverse it may be, and are ready to hit the field, wherever that may be.
“They know that this (construction) will be good for the school and give us better facilities,” Smart said. “They’re just excited about playing the game, and playing for their school and their community.”
Some of that excitement can be traced to the Eagles having been quite competitive in most of its 2009 games, the losses, Smart said, a direct result of turnovers that taxed J-E’s defense and led to quick points for the opposition.
Also, J-E had to deal with inexperience, placing sophomores all through the starting lineup. They’re now juniors and, having been knocked around, they want some payback.
Joe Gallager takes over at quarterback, having backed up Zach Frost a year ago, with Smart praising his steadiness and his ability to throw the ball well. When he drops back, Gallager will look for Brennen Barrigar or Tony Lewis at the receiver slots, or Logan Smart at tight end.
Barrigar could also sneak into the backfield, combining with senior tailback Zach Stevenson and fullback Mike Killeen for an experienced skill group that Josh Matusak could join, too.
Even though guard Sean Cooper is the lone returning starter on the offensive line, it’s an experienced group, since Ryan Hubbs, Tom Albring and Gage Thorpe took turns as substitutes in ’09. Only 6-6, 230-pound senior Brandon Kelly is an entirely new face.
Thorpe and Albring will see duty on both sides, having earned starting spots at defensive tackle while Frank Bartkowiak joins Cooper at end. Matusak links up with Stevenson at inside linebacker, with Smart and Leland Holmes itching to play at outside linebacker. There’s real concerns in the secondary, where Cody Lewis is the only sure thing amid a host of contenders.
With many other teams in Class C West (especially Bishop Ludden) facing uncertainties, there could be room for the Eagles to move up the standings and even earn a playoff spot. Smart said that is long overdue.
“Our kids and coaching staff is condfident,” he said. “We are ready to move up.”