ESM football plans for own set of big games

All but three starters back for Spartans in 2011

— On the third weekend of November, all the attention of high school football fans in Upstate New York will zero in on East Syracuse-Minoa, which will play host to the New York State semifinals, the last step until the championship games in the Carrier Dome a week later.

And who knows? The hosts might have its own bit of history in mind, too.

ESM returns 19 of 22 starters from a 2010 squad that, despite its youth, went 6-3 and was second to Cortland in the Class A American division before losing in the first round of the Section III playoffs to Indian River.

Head coach Kevin DeParde acknowledges the vast amount of potential, but said the Spartans can't afford any kind of complacency.

"We look good on paper," he said. "The expectations are high, and we've got to perform to that (high) level every day. They (the players) can't get full of themselves."

Given that, since its sectional title in 2006, ESM, despite excellent regular-season marks, has only made it out of the first round of the playoffs once in four years, that shouldn't be a problem.

Among the 10 starters back on offense is 6-2, 180-pound senior quarterback Tyler Johnson, who threw for more than 1,000 yards as a junior, but also showed he could take off by gaining more than 400 yards on the ground.

DeParde said that Johnson's all-around ability, especially with his arm, allows ESM to use more passing plays than in seasons past, which keeps defenses from loading up players at the line of scrimmage.

Johnson will often be looking for fellow senior Bobby Campese, an All-Central New York and All-State selection at wide receiver in 2010. If defenders smother Campese, another senior, Buddy Frigon, will have lots of chances, as will tight end Mike Gorney.

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