Aug 29, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Due to another reshuffling of the enrollment standards statewide, the Oneida football team finds itself back in the Class B ranks after a brief stay in Class A. And it might be just in time for the Indians to contend for a championship again.
In that higher bracket each of the last two years, Oneida went 4-5, winning both crossover games in 2007 following a 2-5 struggle. According to head coach Bill Carinci, it served as a long growing process for a young squad, many of whom assumed starting roles as sophomores in ’06.
Now, Indians fans hope the time has come for all that youthful promise to turn into mature success. Of the 38 players on the varsity roster, 17 are entering their third year, including a majority of the starting lineup.
Together, they move into a five-team Class B East division where four teams will make the playoffs. Chittenango also moved down from Class A. Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, South Jefferson and Holland Patent stay in place.
Starting under center for the third year in a row, Ryan Kramer threw for more than 1,000 yards in ’07. While he never might approach the numbers of his older brother, Rob (who went on to guide St. John Fisher to the NCAA Division III semifinals), Kramer’s strong arm and speed make him a dangerous quarterback on many fronts.
As in the last two years, Kramer will be aiming his throws at senior receivers Brandon Miles and Joe McCormick. A new tight end is needed to succeed Dale Ano, with Wade Kline and Nate Mallinder both in the running to start.
Oneida also has plenty of options at running back. Rick Rossi, Chris Janes and Jesse Christian return and will share the duties. They are equally capable of being tailbacks or fullbacks, and they’ll stay fresh, especially when the Indians use single-back formations.
Never in Carinci’s 12-year coaching tenure at Oneida has he enjoyed the luxury of having two offensive tackles equal to Will Jones and Howie Schaal. Jones, at 352 pounds, and Schaal, at 311 pounds, tower over opposing defensive linemen and will give Kramer lots of time to throw, plus open up big holes for Rossi, Janes and Christian.
“We can protect (Kramer) and move some people out there with this line,” said Carinci.
What’s more, whenever Jones or Schaal needs a rest, Andy Hornyak (290 pounds) and Daymond Harris (260 pounds, back from missing the 2007 season) can step in and provide even more beef. This is a sharp contrast to the interior line, where center Brad Inman checks in at 196 pounds, and guards Matt Gillmeister (211 pounds) and Ryan Shene (213 pounds) return.
The contrasts continue on the defensive line. Jones and Schaal will see time at tackle, working with 5-3, 152-pound “bullet” Danny Collins, who can use speed and skills enhanced by wrestling to find the ballcarrier. Harris will have an immediate impact as he joins Gillmeister at the defensive end spot.
Oneida is quite set at linebacker, with Janes and Mallinder working inside and Christian and Kline in the outside posts. Kramer, an All-State baseball selection and also a star in basketball, starts at cornerback with McCormick, while Miles roams the backfield at safety.
Except for a Sept. 26 trip north to face South Jefferson in Adams, the Indians do not take a long road trip into a hostile setting this fall, playing four times at home and going to VVS for its other league road game.
And it all begins Sunday with a 10 a.m. clash with Ithaca in the Carrier Dome during the annual Kickoff Classic. Although Oneida teams made Section III finals in 1999, 2002 and 2004, this group of Indians has never played in the Dome, making this a special experience.
Of course, in two months’ time, Carinci and his players want to be back in the Dome — going after a championship.