Football Warriors look to master small details

— 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.

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