DeWitt No longer is the Jamesville-DeWitt football program concerned about reaching the top of the Section III Class A ranks.
It now confronts a different challenge – staying there.
Following a long-awaited sectional final appearance in the Carrier Dome in 2012, the Red Rams had plans of getting there again a year later, only to endure all kinds of injuries, the sort that might have crippled the plans of seasons past.
That didn’t happen here, though. J-D still managed a 5-2 regular-season mark and a 14-0 shutout over Whitesboro in the opening round of the sectional playoffs before Indian River stopped them 31-14 in the semifinals, one win short of a return to the Dome.
Head coach Eric Ormond’s task, already made difficult by seeing power running back Rasheed Baker, All-Central New York defender Pete Crossett and top lineman Matt Thompson graduate, got tougher when quarterback Jake Brotzki, still recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him in 2013, transferred to CBA.
This fall, J-D starts out with 28 varsity players, a smaller roster than in seasons past. Ormond said that this group has needed to prove that it could work as hard and show as much heart and determination as their predecessors.
“They’ve worked harder than they’re accustomed to,” said Ormond. “I’ve pushed them pretty hard, and they’re still here.”
At least the Rams can take comfort in seeing Nate Shapiro return. Brotzki’s injury forced Shapiro to start all but one game in 2013, and he learned plenty. Now he’ll run an option offense far more predicated on speed than power.
No single running back will replace Baker’s 215 carries and 1,395 yards. Instead, a wide variety of players will get a chance to prove themselves, from smaller tailbacks like Ernest Shaw, Mike Schwedes, Daetwan Reed and Jahkeera Jamison to bigger players like Joe Morgan and Joe Murphy.