Aug 28, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Seven months ago, it was made official — Eric Ormond’s 12-year climb through the coaching ranks of the Jamesville-DeWitt football program had reached the top.
After Dennis Schahczenski stepped down at the end of the 2008 season, Ormond, the team’s defensive coordinator, was tapped to be his successor. It made sense, since Ormond had thorough knowledge of the J-D program.
It all began in 1997, when Ormond was hired to coach the modified Red Rams. Two years later, he went to the JV team, and in 2001 Ormond came to the varsity team, where for eight years he has tutored the defense.
Ormond said he was shocked and surprised by Schahczenski’s departure, but delighted to get the chance at the top job. He said his first priority was to get players throughout the program to focus on the gridiron.
“My goals are to create opportunities (for kids) to focus and specialize on football,” Ormond said.
Unlike basketball or lacrossse, said Ormond, it’s tough to play football year-round, so “you really have to sell the weight room.” Since he took over, Ormond has helped increase year-round work with the weights, four days a week.
In addition, J-D’s players took numerous trips to seven-on-seven tournaments, both locally (Cicero-North Syracuse and Utica College) and otherwise (two events in Pennsylvania), giving them lots of chances to work on skills — and bond.
The open question is whether this revamped approach will work with J-D’s 42-man roster as it opens with a flourish against Fowler this Sunday in the annual Kickoff Classic in the Carrier Dome.
A spirited battle is going on to succeed long-time quarterback Joe Daddario. Both senior Joe Emmi and junior Davi Sacco are getting looks in practice. Both played in Saturday’s scrimmage at Indian River, looking to impress offensive coordinator Kevin Kalfass — who, like Ormond, played at Solvay High School under its legendary coach, Al Merola.
Whoever starts will be flinging passes to Demetrius Mitchell, the leading receiver in the Class A American division in 2008. If defenses gang up on Mitchell, that could leave openings for fellow receivers Jamie Shibley and Brandon Franklin.
J-D has a lot of depth in the backfield, too. Jailaan Kinsey leads the group, with Jerome Bryant at fullback, but there’s a good chance Ahkeem Williams will see carries, as could Curtis Walker and Joe Shepard.
On the offensive line, baseball standout Kenny Schunck is a 233-pound anchor as he returns at center, flanked by 230-pound lacrosse star Mac Feiner at guard. At 290 pounds, Cody Marsh could prove to be an imposing tackle, with Mike Paul (190 pounds), Matt Muller (230 pounds) and Kyree Adams (250 pounds) adding further size.
Ormond employs a unique 5-2 defensive look, designed to protect against both the run and the pass. The key to it, said Ormond, is preventing big plays.
Shepard and Feiner return at defensive end. Both saw their 2008 seasons cut short by injury — Shepard to his Achilles, Feiner to his knee — and it affected the entire defense. Now healthy, they, along with Williams, give J-D an imposing trio of pass rushers, with Marsh at nose guard and Mike Paul at tackle. Koy Adams could take the other tackle spot.
Schunk returns at linebacker, specializing in run defense alongside Dave Urciuoli, a 5-11, 160-pound dynamo whose speed and toughness provide an ideal contrast. Alex Hatem moves from linebacker to cornerback to aid an inexperienced secondary where Tim Bright plays free safety, Peter Klim could start at corner and the versatile Jake LaRussa could fit in anywhere.
J-D’s schedule is favorable. It gets both Fowler and Fulton (at Central Square) in neutral sites and, in between, plays four straight home games against Whitesboro, Mexico, Nottingham and East Syracuse-Minoa. Only Cortland (Oct. 9) is a true road trip.
Ormond said his team needs to do three things if it wants to move up and challenge the likes of ESM and Fulton in the Class A American Division — (1) become more physical, (2) become more disciplined and (3) find good team chemistry.
Twelve years in one place, and a proper diagnosis is not difficult to find.