East Syracuse What the East Syracuse-Minoa football team surrendered in 2012, it wants to take back in 2013.
As defending Section III Class A champions a season ago, the Spartans suffered three of its four losses by a combined four points, tumbled to third place in the Class A American division and lost in the opening round of the sectional playoffs to Whitesboro.
“We were inconsistent and undisciplined, and it cost us in close games,” said head coach Kevin DeParde. “We’ve got to be mentally tougher. The kids understand that, and that’s been nice.”
A strong off-season of work has led ESM to the stage it will occupy this Thursday night when it hosts Watertown in the first Section III game of the fall, televised by Time Warner Cable Sports.
Fans in person, and viewers at home, will get a glimpse at a revamped offense that lost top running back Jeff McDuffie, but returns senior quarterback Sean Richardson.
Starting as a junior, Richardson proved an able successor to record-setting Tyler Johnson. At 6-foot-4, Richardson has the capability of seeing over a defensive front. Just as important, said DeParde, is his growth in other phases of the game.
“Sean has matured a lot and he is in great shape,” said DeParde.
And Richardson can throw to an experienced group of receivers. Eyan Underwood returns at wideout, while Pat Bryant is back at tight end, the duo is joined by Deshaun Gorman as they try to spread the field.
ESM’s ground game won’t suffer much in McDuffie’s absence. Riquelle Othman, a transfer from Henninger, has eased into the starting tailback spot, and will get quite an escort from 5-foot-9, 230-pound senior Jose Sanchez, who could prove one of the area’s top fullbacks.
For a long time, ESM has preferred quick, agile linemen to bulky types. The same is true this fall, as three-year starting center Chris Szlamczynski, at 250 pounds, is the biggest of the starting five.