East Syracuse A big reason why the East Syracuse-Minoa football team has kept itself among the top Section III Class A programs in the last decade is its ability to absorb the inevitable departure of star players and find new ones to shine in their place.
The 2014 season may put a test to those abilities, but more than enough pieces are still in place to make another championship push.
From a 7-2 side that fell in a wild, 43-36 battle to eventual sectional champion Carthage in last fall’s sectional semifinals, the Spartans saw three first-team All-Central New York selections depart.
That included quarterback Sean Richardson, holder of most of ESM’s single-season and career passing marks, plus top wide receiver Pat Bryant and lineman Chris Szlamczynski.
Richardson’s successor under center is Brandon Breen, a three-sport star (he also plays baseball and basketball) who didn’t play football in 2013. Head coach Kevin DeParde said that Breen’s athleticism gives him a chance to scramble out of the pocket than Richardson did.
Making the transition from Richardson to Breen easier is the fact that the Spartans can count on three seniors – RiQuelle Othman, Fred Johnson and K’Hari Flagg – to share the running duties. All of them could start, and with pass-catching abilities, they can take short tosses from Breen and turn them into big plays.
“Each of them could be the top back,” said DeParde. “This gives us variety on offense. We don’t have to stretch the field, which is nice.”
And Bryant might not be missed much, either. Three more seniors - Eyan Underwood, Kollin Diedrickson and DeShaun Gorman – return at wide receiver, while Nick Pullano and Jeremy Perry split tight-end duties. Diedrickson is confident, saying that, with a better variety of skill players, the Spartans can be just as potent through the air.