Football Spartans want to reclaim Class A throne

ESM says it needs to work on defense, mental mistakes

— Kyle Hesse, who starts at guard, checks in at just 180 pounds, while fellow guard Matt Grosso is 225 pounds. Even the tackles, Eric Domlick (230 pounds) and Scott Irons (215 pounds), are lighter than average at that spot, but the Spartans want quick bursts off the snap and stamina, which is easier to accomplish for these guys than for 300-pounders.

ESM’s biggest problem last season was not on the offensive side, though. A once-vaunted defense regressed, hurt by its youth (just three starters back from 2011) and an inability to do the simple things well.

“We didn’t tackle as well as in years past,” said DeParde. “That was a big reason for our struggles.”

Just as on the offensive line, ESM likes a quick, explosive front in its 3-4 alignment. Nose guard Cory Whittaker is just 185 pounds, but flanked by Szlamczynski and Angel Curbelo, Whittaker could explode at the snap and get to the quarterback in a hurry.

Sanchez is entering his third year as a starting linebacker, and while he and Othman both expect to start here, DeParde said he wants to make sure both of them are fresh for their work on offense, so he’ll rotate in younger players and depend on the other starting linebackers, Khari Flagg and Andy Messinger, to do a bit more.

In the secondary, Gorman teams up with Anthony Townsend at cornerback, while lacrosse standout Kollin Diedrickson joins Underwood at safety. Aside from taking the snaps, Richardson will also punt as Diedrickson handles the kicking duties.

Once the opener with Watertown is done, ESM plays four of its next five games on the road, the only home contest a clash with the same Whitesboro team it scrimmaged on Saturday – and lost to in the playoffs last fall.

DeParde said ESM will face the same pressure situations it did in 2012. How it handles them, and whether ill-timed mistakes will lead to more physical and mental breakdowns, determines if the Spartans find itself atop the Class A ranks again.

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