Aug 26, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Do not think, for one second, that the Skaneateles football team will have an easier time because it was moved from Class B to Class C for the 2011 season.
The Lakers didn’t want to move. Revived by the presence of a new coaching staff led by Tim Green and an influx of new talent, Skaneateles rose to fourth place in Class B West last fall and returned to the Section III playoffs before falling in the first round to eventual champion Cazenovia.
With some of the teams above them (especially Westhill and Marcellus) facing major roster turnover this fall, Skaneateles had reason to think it could vie for top honors in a league full of familiar rivals.
But then the Skaneateles enrollment dipped just below 400 (398, to be exact), and it had no choice but to move into Class C West, at least for this season.
“We got used to it, and we quickly realized that there’s some excellent competition for us,” said Green.
And it starts right away, as the Lakers go north to Dexter on Friday to open the season against two-time defending sectional champion General Brown, who made it all the way to the state finals in 2010. Then it’s a trip to Bishop Ludden, part of a stretch where Skaneateles plays four of its first five games on the road.
Green said that General Brown is “as good as any Class B team”, and the record bears this out. What’s more, the Lakers go there a bit handicapped, as its top two cornerbacks, Malik Merritt and Tyler Saunders, will miss the game, and most of the offensive line is new, too.
Quarterback Troy Green, who missed most of the 2010 season with a broken bone in his right (throwing) arm, returns 100 percent healthy for his senior campaign.
Having grown taller and stronger in the off-season (he’s now 6-1 and 201 pounds), Troy also possesses a sprinter’s speed, so he could take off downfield at any time.
Mostly, though, Troy Green will throw out of the Lakers’ spread formation. Top wide receiver Brandon Barron is back, as is Jake Cooney, who will see more throws now that Pat Roberts has graduated. Koree Reed and Khiary Gale gives Skaneateles some depth at that position, too.
When the Lakers run the ball, it has a productive back in Max Weiss, who averaged more than five yards per carry last fall as a sophomore. Merritt, who moved into the district last winter after attending Bishop Ludden, will back up Weiss when he returns from his hamstring injury.
On that offensive line, only tackle Nick Lee, a 281-pound junior, has a full season of starting experience. A raw and talented freshman, Jake Galbato (252 pounds), will play the other tackle spot, while Tyler Russell, Nate Molnar, Nate Hughes and Sepp Martin rotate into the inside spots.
Moving to the defense, Skaneateles will work from a base 4-3 formation, with variations. Green said that defensive end Max Johnson has been quite impressive in practices, and he, along with tackles Hughes and Hunter Dickinson, anchors a line where Barron, Molnar, Garrett Navaroli, Greg Huba all could join the rotation.
Conor Herr, who did a terrific job at quarterback starting most of 2010 after Troy Green got hurt, is still in the starting lineup, but he now takes over at middle linebacker. Luke Dranszak, a junior, is in his second season at outside linebacker, while senior Tyler Russell is eager to return after injuries kept him out most of 2010.
Once Merritt and Saunders return, the Lakers should have a terrific secondary. Gale and Steve Bright add depth to the corner positions (and will start against General Brown), while Reed and Ryan Sherman start at safety.
Another reason why the Lakers will not find it easier in 2011 is the structure of Class C itself. With four divisions, only the top two from each league will qualify for the playoffs. There are seven teams in C West, with Bishop Ludden, Syracuse ITC, Hannibal, Jordan-Elbridge, LaFayette/Fabius-Pompey, Tully.
Thus, a 3-4 mark, as the Lakers had last fall, will not do. Green said the key to any playoff push will be how the Lakers’ interior lines improve and, of course, if everyone stays on the field.-
“We’ve got tough kids, and we’ve got speed and experience at the skill positions,” he said. “If the line develops, and we can stay healthy, we’re going to be very formidable.”