Aug 31, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Good and bad aspects could be taken out of what the Oneida football team faces when the 2010 season kicks off Saturday at Holland Patent.
On the good side, old Tri-Valley League rivalries are being revived within an expanded Class B East division. Holland Patent and Cazenovia join a league that already included the Indians, plus its neighbors from Vernon Verona Sherrill and Chittenango and South Jefferson.
The bad part is that, upon initial glance, there isn’t a weak link in the league. All have enjoyed fair amounts of success and winning seasons, though none have made a run to the state Class B finals, as Oneida did in 2008.
Getting back to that high level might be a stretch, but veteran head coach Bill Carinci is pleased with his team’s high turnout (40 on the varsity roster) and the way the Indians played a season ago in difficult circumstances.
With nearly everyone gone from the ’08 state finalists, the Indians still went 5-4 in 2009, a winning mark that still didn’t reflect the new, higher goals the program had set.
“Your expectations get higher once you get to that (2008) level,” Carinci said.
For this season, Oneida again breaks in a new quarterback. Senior Matt Mosack replaces Jeremy Rodriguez, and Carinci said that Mosack is equally capable of throwing downfield and running out of the pocket when the situation calls for it.
It helps Mosack that both of last season’s top wide receivers, Eric Riley and Shawn Ano, return, as does tight end Evan Watson, giving the Indians three reliable pass-catchers.
There is also no shortage of running options. Chris Chesebro has the most experience at tailback, but junior Evan Stoffle and sophomore Matt Barlow are pushing for carries. Brandon Worley lines up at fullback, with Patrick Tayntor offering support.
All of them work behind a big offensive line that, according to Carinci, could have lots of flexibility, with guys lining up anywhere.
For example, 275-pound Travis Morrison could be a tackle or center, with 295-pound Brandon White starts at guard, but could also play tackle. Brian Williamson is a possible center, too, with Matt Klinder (253 pounds) and Kyle Blessing (222) around to give the line more bulk.
Oneida’s defense, so dominant in ’08, stepped back a bit last fall, but could roar again by using numerous formations, from traditional four-man fronts to a five-man backfield where two defensive backs could move up to linebacker, or even blitz.
They can do this, Carinci said, because of the athleticism present in the secondary. Two track standouts, Riley and Jimmy Moyer, could fly anywhere, while Ano, Worley and Ed Stewart add further depth. Mosack could be used, too, though with his quarterback duties, the Indians might want to minimize his exposure.
Keith Johnson, who starts at defensive end, is not big (182 pounds), but can sprint past opposing linemen as Watson works at the other end, flanking a rotation of tackles that includes White, Blessing, Morrison and Klinder.
Kyle Armstrong, a returning starter at linebacker, moves from the outside to the inside as a consequence of the new defensive packages, with Stoffle the other linebacker.
Following Saturday’s opener at Holland Patent, the Indians play four of five games at home (against Chittenango, South Jefferson, Cazenovia and Skaneateles), the only interruption a Sept. 24 trip to Mount Markham before the regular season ends at main rival VVS Oct. 16.
Nothing, Carinci said, is as important as that opener, for a win at HP could announce that Oneida is ready to challenge for Class B glory again.
“Whoever comes out of that game with a win will be in good position for the rest of the season,” he said.