Aug 28, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Any time a new coaching staff takes over a high school football program, there is bound to be some uncertainty and a fair amount of transition to go through.
For Cicero-North Syracuse, though, the circumstances are far different – and far more cramped than most programs would deal with.
First, there was the long quest by some former players to dismiss head coach Steve Ellis after the Northstars went through back-to-back 1-7 seasons in 2010 and ’11. Then things got more complicated when Ellis, due to an injury suffered in the spring, was unable to resume coaching duties this fall.
After a further bit of whirlwind activity involving coaching arrivals and departures, Jack McAndrew emerged as C-NS’s interim head coach for the 2012 season. He and his staff of assistants – Bill Aldrich, Pat McNamara and J.P. Gagnon – were not finalized until Aug. 10, a mere three days before practice started.
The haste in which it was all put together is reflected in the fact that, in addition to his coaching duties at C-NS, two days a week McAndrew still heads down to Morrisville State College to teach a course in American History.
“It allows you to keep (football) in perspective,” he said.
Concerns about turnout were alleviated, to some degree, as 44 players were on hand for last Saturday’s scrimmage against Rome Free Academy. McAndrew said their attitude has remained positive, despite the turmoil.
“I was prepared for a lot more conflict,” he said. “But we’re maintaining our focus on football. And we’re going to try to get something done this year.”
The RFA scrimmage was important in determining some of the starting spots for this Friday’s opener against Baldwinsville. McAndrew said that it went well, for the most part, with no one on the roster picking up
However, the Northstars can count on some familiar faces, from Xavier Brown at wide receiver to linemen Tyler and Jared Hemingway – Jared is, in fact, Tyler’s nephew, an unusual occurrence for a high school team. Avery Yarn, a decorated track athlete, starts at quarterback, with Nick Mezzatesta expected to anchor C-NS’s running attack.
Expectations are low, especially with a tough schedule that kicks off with Baldwinsville and its star running back, Tyler Rouse, and follows with trips to perennial powers Liverpool and CBA. With that in mind, McAndrew is realistic.
“I want to keep this team together and have a positive experience,” he said. “It’s not about wins and losses. It’s about a commitment to football.”