Aug 27, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Tim Hawkins served for four years as an assistant football coach at Bishop Ludden, which meant yearly contests against Class C West division rival Jordan-Elbridge. During those games, said Hawkins, he noted how tough the Eagles’ players were.
So when J-E’s head coaching job opened up after Mike Smart’s departure, Hawkins, who said he always wanted to be a head coach, went for it – and won the position. Now he’s in charge of turning the Eagles around.
“We want to change the culture and turn it into a football school,” said Hawkins.
Much of that, said Hawkins, involved building an organized and well-attended off-season program, starting with a trip to Syracuse University’s team camp by 25 players, followed by extended work in the weight room during the spring and summer months.
An anecdote by Hawkins illustrated the attitude change he wants to bring to J-E. One day early in the weight room sessions, just 10 players showed up. When he voiced his displeasure, the next day more than double that number was in attendance, and it stayed that way until practices began in mid-August.
Now, as J-E works toward this Friday’s “Tin Can Classic” opener against visiting Hannibal, it has 32 players and a renewed energy that it hopes will translate into more victories on the field.
Offensively, the Eagles will run a “Flexbone” triple-option. Hawkins said it’s difficult to game-plan against, and that it can “make a bad team good, and a good team great.”
Junior Austin Barrigar, at quarterback, is in charge of running that option. Long-term, J-E is quite set, since Barrigar is expected to start the next two years and freshman Chris Ryan will learn the ropes until he takes over in 2015.
Even with the departure of Colby Trexler, the Eagles have a deep, talented backfield, with Ryan Matousek a returning starter and two sophomores, Sam Robles and Matt Chisholm, offering support. The triple-option almost assures that each of them will get a significant number of carries.
When Barrigar throws the ball, it will go to either senior Sean Ryan or yet another sophomore, Kyle Humberstone, with Ryan lining up at tight end if the play calls for it.
Ryan Cooper used to play at tight end, but has moved over to right tackle, embracing it “with open arms”, as Hawkins put it. He joins an offensive line that includes returning starter Payne Roberts at center, Justin Quinn at right guard and Andy Chambers at left guard. One tackle spot remains up for grabs, and Quinn, who is listed at 185 pounds, could also play at fullback.
From a 4-4 base, J-E’s defense includes fast ends like 5-foot-9, 160-pound Kordell Sherwood and Scott Braun, with Cooper and Paul Russo filling out the front four.
The Eagles are fairly set at linebacker, with Roberts and Quinn inside and Matousek and Zach Pangaro outside. Ryan, at safety, anchors a secondary where Humberstone works at one corner and Brad McMahon works at the other corner.
Canastota’s move into Class C West only adds to the depth of a league that includes defending sectional champion Skaneateles, Institute of Technology Central, Hannibal and the combined Port Byron/Union Springs outfit.
And it includes Ludden, whom the Eagles will face Sept. 13 in what’s sure to be a game of high emotion for Hawkins and his one-time coaching mentor, Mike Rogers.
In the meantime, the Eagles are aiming higher than before. Hawkins said that he wants his team to contend for a league title, that just contending for the playoffs isn’t enough.
“You’ve got to set the bar high,” he said.
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