Lots of things are new for Chittenango football in 2018, whether it’s some of the players who are taking the field or the surface on which they will perform.
A new Field Turf was installed during the summer, more colorful than the first one put in more than a decade ago. It includes a bright red C in the center, red-and-white end zones with “Chittenango” spelled out and, along both sidelines, the phrase “Bear Country” put in.
Far more important than the decorative detals, though, is the fact that, after a decade spent in the Class B West division, the Bears are now in B East.
From a geographic standpoint, it’s a better fit, since most of Chittenango’s opponents are within a close drive, such as Oneida, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill and Cazenovia.
So it’s only fitting that the regular season will end on Oct. 12 with the Bears hosting Cazenovia, the first time the Lakers have paid a visit since 2011, which was, ironically, the last year Chittenango won a sectional title.
Since then, Cazenovia has added four sectional championships and the 2015 state crown, ambitions that the Bears foster, too, but getting there this fall will take lots of hard work.
Quarterback Brian Lamaitis said that the Bears’ 4-4 record of a season ago can be improved upon because his team has a far better work ethic than in 2017 and that there are fewer distractions, too.
Wide receiver/linebacker Keith Spurgeon agrees. “Our chemistry is better, and we have more depth at every position,” he said.
For head coach Curt Kielbasa and his staff, the biggest challenge on offense is replacing the entire front line as the likes of Sam Hill, Nolan Allen and Devon Spaulding have graduated.
Taking up that challenge, John Spencer takes over at center, with Tyler Daviau protecting Lamaitis on his blind side at left tackle and Hunter White at guard.
At 5-foot-8 and 260 pounds, Lamaitis has an unusual build for a quarterback. But he started all of 2017 and, with that experience, plus solid physical gifts, he capably runs the offense.
“Brian is deceptively quick and throws it great,” said Kielbasa. “He takes command of the huddle, and his peers respect him.”
Between Spurgeon, Gabe Haley, Griffin Furco, Nick Farr and tight end Alex Whitcomb, Lamaitis has plenty of receiving targets. The Bears also have depth in the backfield with Francis Cerio, Nate Smith, Dakota Diable and Connor Caperon all capable of making big gains.
On defense, Cody Hendrix, Corey Jackowski and Nae Vivelo are all part of a rotation with Daviau and White, playing in front of Spurgeon, Caperon, Diable and Haley at linebacker. Furco and Farr, helped by Robert Connell, rotate at safety next to Cerio and Smith, who start at cornerback.
Chittenango has four home games, starting with the Aug. 30 opener against Camden. A Sept. 14 date with Central Valley Academy bridges trips that same month to New Hartford, Oneida and Mexico.
Then, on Oct. 5, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill visits a week before Cazenovia. By then, the Bears will have a good idea whether enviable depth throughout its roster, combined with new energy in a new league, leads to a special season.
Feb 21, 2019
Feb 21, 2019
Feb 21, 2019