Aug 30, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
All the years spent by the Jamesville-DeWitt football program working hard and scraping to climb from the bottom of the local Class A ranks culminated in a 2012 season that included a league title, a win streak not seen in 45 years and a trip to the Section III final at the Carrier Dome.
And now comes the difficult part – staying on top after so many of the players that keyed the turnaround have graduated.
Gone from last year’s magical 9-1 campaign that ended in a tough sectional finals defeat to Nottingham are Josiah Williams and Taumeras Howard, the big playmakers both on offense and special teams. Also gone are stalwarts like Ryan Wright, Zach Shapiro and Kalaar Wynn.
According to head coach Eric Ormond and his staff, the focus has not been on returning to the Dome or grabbing league and sectional honors.
“We’re trying to emphasize the process that goes into that outcome – practice, film sessions, chalk talk and weight room,” said Ormond. “If we put up maximum effort there, the outcome will be favorable.”
J-D will still work out of the triple-option “Flexbone” offense that proved so effective when Williams and Howard were running opposing defenders ragged.
Only now it’s senior Rasheed Baker that will be the focal point of the ground game. Baker has bulked up 20 pounds, to 205, in the off-season, and with combination of quickness and power, he could put up big numbers. Ben Honis and Kayvon Anderson will help out in the backfield.
After splitting quarterback duties with Wright a season ago, sophomore Jack Brotzki takes over full-time this fall. At 6-foot-3, Brotzki, said Ormond, is a “dynamic” player, capable of long throws or long runs and looking over defenses.
The triple-option does not have a traditional tight end, so the wide receivers have to be versatile. Rob Murphy, Ben Wipper and John Werbowsky all fit that category, so they could line up wide or go up to the line, even carry the ball on occasion.
With all the transition going on at the skill positions, J-D can at least count on a strong offensive line, which returns both of its starting tackles, Pete Crossett and Matt Thompson. Center Ryan Pike and guard Ryan Adelberg both have varsity experience, too, with guard Matt Schunck the only newcomer in the starting five.
From the Rams’ 3-5 defensive alignment, four linebackers return, including Crossett, who has started since his sophomore year. Werbowsky, also a baseball standout, is back, as is Honis and James Jones, while Stu Fiacco rounds out the quintet.
Up front, Joe Morgan takes over at nose guard, flanked by Thompson and Hillel Matson at the end spots. A secondary rotation will try to fill the void left by Howard and Williams, as Wipper and Murphy play at the corners, while Baker and Anderson rotate at safety.
Twice in 2012, Wynn won games with clutch field-goal kicking, and the long returns by Williams and Howard will be missed, too. To address the kicking situation, J-D brought up sophomore Anthony Dongiovanni, who will both kick and punt.
Ormond said this is J-D’s toughest schedule in years. It opens Saturday at the Dome, with the Red Rams facing Section VI power Cheektowaga in the Kickoff Classic, followed by a short week and a Sept. 12 visit to Indian River.
The Rams don’t expect another nine-game win streak. In fact, said Ormond, it isn’t concerned even if it starts 0-2, as long as it wins the important Class A American division games against Fulton, Nottingham and East Syracuse-Minoa that follow.
Above all, Ormond said his main hope is that success hasn’t spoiled the returning J-D players to think that it will just show up and earn victories.
“We have to be guarded against the entitlement mentality,” he said. “There’s a very fine line between confidence and arrogance. At any time, we can get knocked off our horse, especially with this schedule.”