Aug 25, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Much excitement and pageantry surrounded the Liverpool football team as, in 2010, it finally returned home from a two-year exile to play on its new artificial-turf field at LHS Stadium.
Yet nothing else seemed to go right for the Warriors. Inexperience, poor play on the field, and character issues off the field, were all part of a 3-4 regular-season campaign and a quick, lopsided (31-7) exit from the Section III Class AA playoffs at the expense of Fayetteville-Manlius.
Head coach Dave Mancuso said that, though it was difficult to adjust to the departure of 32 seniors from the 2009 team, both he and his players also lost sight of the small, important details that are necessary for any football team to win.
So far, said Mancuso, that hasn’t been a problem with his 55-man roster this year as the Warriors work its way toward the Sept. 3 season opener against Buffalo-area power St. Francis in the Kickoff Classic at the Carrier Dome.
“In Class AA, you have to be sharp everywhere – talent, size, speed and discipline” said Mancuso. “And I like the character and chemistry of this team.”
Just seven of 22 starters return, but one of them, senior Zavon Watkins, makes a big change as he moves from wide receiver to start at quarterback, replacing the departed Luigi Barletta.
Already a multiple state champion in indoor and outdoor track and field (his specialty is middle distances), Watkins gives Liverpool something close to a third running back in its I-formation, and he also has a strong enough arm to make deep throws. Sophomore Justin Capoto backs up Watkins and gives the Warriors long-term security under center.
Another backfield shift involves Elijah Johnson, who moves from tailback to wide receiver, where the 150-pound dynamo works with Matt Isbell, while Jeff Hoffmeister takes over at tight end, a strong point for many past Warrior teams.
Meanwhile, Jeff Edwards and Alonzo Granger are set to share the tailback duties, running behind fullback Anthony Miller and a big offensive line with three returning starters.
Pat Carroll-Marsh, at 275 pounds, anchors the line at tackle, while guard Alex Gilson has bulked up to 256 pounds and Nick Leedon, the “small” guy at 205 pounds, is back at center. Oswego transfer Ryan Sheridan (254 pounds) moves in at guard as 282-pound Geoff Bell moves up from the JV ranks to claim the other tackle spot.
Mancuso said there is solid depth behind that offensive line, too, and that depth will be put to use on Liverpool’s four-man defensive front. Carroll-Marsh and Gilson will go both ways, starting at defensive tackle as Joe Pizutto takes on a larger role at end, helped by junior Frank Delconte.
Two more juniors lead the linebacker corps – twin brothers Dillon and Dustin Springer, with Dillon (who started as a sophomore) in the middle and Dillon outside, joined by Hoffmeister.
Johnson and Granger join the list of two-way starters, manning the cornerback spots with Isbell and Jordan Stenson at safety. Trevor Monk assumes the kicking duties after Connor Rogers graduated.
Following the St. Francis opener, Liverpool begins Class AA-1 division play at Central Square Sept. 9 before confronting two-time defending sectional champion Baldwinsville a week later at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium. Starting with CBA on Sept. 2, the Warriors play three of its last four games at LHS Stadium, the lone exception the Oct. 7 “Star Wars Cup” showdown with Cicero-North Syracuse.
Mancuso said that, already this year, he sees his players work harder in practice in 2010 and listen more to all the coaches. They seem like minor details, but it’s those things that may determine whether Liverpool gets back to normal (winning) behavior.