Aug 30, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Now it’s a matter of days and hours, not weeks and months, before the Skaneateles football team kicks off its 2010 season against Homer.
And with that first kickoff, the hype and anticipation that has surrounded the arrival of Tim Green as the Lakers’ new head coach will stop – much to the relief of both Green and his players.
“There’s real anticipation (with all of us) to start the season,” Green said. “And these guys feel good about the work they have done.”
That work commenced not long after Green, amid much community debate, was hired to try and turn around a struggling Skaneateles program that has won just two games in the last two seasons.
First, Green focused on getting athletes of all stripes to play football, and that resulted in a doubling of the team’s roster. Forty-four players were present for the first practice on Aug. 16, as opposed to 22 when the 2009 season ended.
Then those players went through an intense, ramped-up weight and conditioning program in the spring and summer, and the energy spilled over into practices where, Green said, several players have suffered injuries, most of them minor.
A large part of the work is learning a brand-new offense and defense. Joe Sindoni is the Lakers’ new offensive coordinator, having moved from CBA, where he was the junior varsity coach.
CBA made its name in the last decade (and won a state title in 2004) playing a spread offense, but Green said the Lakers aren’t wedded to a single offensive philosophy.
“You’ve got to make the offense work around the talent that you’ve got,” he said.
That talent includes a pair of quarterbacks battling to succeed three-year starter Tom Schoener. Troy Green and Connor Herr have both seen plenty of action during the August practices, and either of them could start against Homer in the opener.
“They both throw the ball well and have sound mechanics,” Tim Green said.
Skaneateles has even more options in the backfield. Kevin Valente, a lacrosse standout, leads a pack of runners that includes quick sophomore Max Weiss and speedy Ryan Sherman. Tyler Saunders and fullback Tom Halstead will see carries, too.
One big hurdle the Lakers face is the uncertain status of senior wide receiver James Smith. Expected to be a major contributor, Smith suffered a concussion in practices and is out indefinitely, so that leaves a contrasting pair of wideouts in basketball star Pat Roberts and diminutive Brady Heuber. When Skaneateles utilizes a tight end, Brandon Barron will get the duties.
Aside from Garrett Navaroli, who checks in at 260 pounds, the Lakers do not have a big offensive line. Still, in Rory Callahan, Joe Copeland, Joe Mendolia and Corey Knighton, Skaneateles has quick, strong athletes that could prove durable in the months ahead.
As his defensive coordinator, Green turned to Ron Osinski, who coached Green in the early 1980s at Liverpool High School and stayed close to him through his playing days at Syracuse University and with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
While most high-school teams present four or five-man defensive fronts, Osinski brought to Skaneateles a six-man front, which offers some intriguing possibilities. The front six could swarm in on an opposing quarterback or, if it’s a running play, have two or more ends drop back and function as linebackers.
The new-look line could feature Barron plus Max Johnson, Chris Wise, Kudrick Abrams, Neil Ruggles and Tyler Russell, while Callahan and Nate Hughes anchor the whole unit as full-time linebackers.
That still leaves room for three defensive backs, and the Lakers are turning to Sherman at free safety, with Hueber and Saunders flanking Sherman at cornerback.
Special-teams tryouts in the summer resulted in Saunders winning the place-kicker job and Barron taking over the punting duties.
All through the lead-up to this season, Laker players and coaches have talked about rising from its long-accustomed place in the Class B West cellar to rise past traditional powers like Westhill, Marcellus, Homer and Solvay and go all the way to the top. The road map to such a turnaround, Green said, is quite clear.
“You need to be solid at every position (on the field),
then have a couple of standouts, and base your offense and defense around them to maximize their talents,” he said. “And you can’t have mental mistakes, like turnovers and penalties. If you can do that, and bring a high level of intensity to the game, you have a great chance to win.”