Aug 30, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Even as it has made regular ventures into the post-season, and even as it pulled off the occasional surprise, the cold numbers for the Jamesville-DeWitt football team remain stark and grim.
Just once in the last 13 seasons have the Red Rams earned a winning record. Turning that around is the long-term goal of second-year head coach Eric Ormond, who spent years as a J-D assistant before getting his chance at the big job.
“Schematically, we have changed things,” Ormond said. “To be more competitive, we have to be cohesive and excited on the field. That will help us in the short term.”
The long-term plan, Ormond said, involves building up the youth feeder programs to a point where top athletes will consider football as a viable first option – a difficult task now, since J-D’s basketball and lacrosse teams have produced multiple state championships.
In Ormond’s first season, the Rams started slow, but improved to a 3-2 mark within the Class A American division (3-4 overall) before another quick exit in the playoffs, a 40-0 loss to eventual champion Whitesboro.
As with many recent J-D teams, the defense was a strong suit, but the offense struggled to put up points – just 86 in eight games. Ormond said that his offense nearly erased penalties and made far fewer mistakes, but didn’t execute well.
“We are inches away from turning a five-yard play into a 50-yard play,” he said. “That changes everything.”
Getting those big plays will require a steady hand from quarterback Akeem Williams, who survived a long audition process that included injuries and defections to get the starting job. At 6-2 and 175 pounds, Williams can look over defenders when he drops back to pass, yet is fast enough to take off and run, if necessary.
J-D has some options at running back, where Jailaan Kinsey and Jerome Bryant need to be replaced. Jake LaRussa and Curtis Walker form the current halfback tandem, with Eric Thompson in support, while Russell Runions succeeds Bryant at fullback.
Most of the time, the Rams will run a spread formation without a tight end. This puts more responsibility on wide receivers Tamauras Howard and Will Sterriker, who must catch passes and block with equal effectiveness.
All of them work behind a brand-new offensive line. Three of the starters – Koy Adams at tackle, John Gallauresi at guard, and Brad Diamond at center – saw action as backups a year ago, while Taylor Austin steps in at guard. It’s a wide-open race for the other tackle spot until Dave Barletta comes back from injury.
Even though J-D has been a strong defensive team for years, Ormond is still inserting a new scheme that is designed to create big plays, emphasizing speed over size. This, he said, will help the Rams against opponents like East Syracuse-Minoa and Fulton, who have dominated the Class A American division for years.
That means larger roles to Nick Firman and Alex Hatem, who starred on J-D’s state championship lacrosse team last spring and will play at inside linebacker with Mason Schoeneck. Runions and Thompson make for a quick pair of outside linebackers, too.
Up front, Adams, Austin and Mike Schneider will do most of the work, while a potentially strong secondary includes LaRussa, who returns at safety, as well as Sterriker and Howard.
Right away, J-D will test itself, opening with trips to New Hartford this Friday and to Carthage on Sept. 10 before its home opener Sept. 17 against Cortland. It’s all part of Ormond’s grand strategy to turn around the Rams’ long-sagging football fortunes.