Schenectady football sprints toward season – The Daily Gazette

With a series of wind sprints Thursday afternoon on Larry Mulvaney Field’s steamy turf, the Schenectady football team wrapped up its preseason double sessions.
Afterward, third-year head coach Mark Cerrone called that phase of his rebuilding project a success.
“We didn’t start out with a lot of numbers, and we only lost three,” Cerrone said as his new-look cast headed toward the lockerroom. “As hard as we pushed these guys, they could have walked. We put them through some long, hard days. Instead, they pushed through it. We’ve got 35 who made it through camp.”
Most are unfamiliar names, like Carlos Jackson, Desean Fortune and Nate Schneider, who has taken over for record-setting quarterback Brandon Gwinner.
Collin DerBoghossian, Azende Davis, Daquan Pontoon and Maurice Tillman are among the handful of players who saw significant time a year ago.
“The reality is we have: 25 juniors, nine seniors and one sophomore,” Cerrone said. “That’s what we’re about right now. Some people will say it’s a rebuilding year, and I’d have to agree with them. The plus, though, is five juniors played as sophomores at the end of the year. Are they vets? No, but they know what it’s about, and they can guide the other guys.”
Amidst the youth, Cerrone sees potential. He is not counting the Patriots out for one of the Class AA Liberty Division’s four available playoffs spots, which they failed to earn the past two years. During that stretch, the Patriots went 3-7 in the division and 6-11 overall.
“Inside the lockerroom, playoffs is always the talk,” the coach said. “We realize we have to fix what’s broken. Going 3-5 [in 2013] and 3-6 [last season] is broken. That’s what we’re doing right now. That’s what these guys want.”
Guys like DerBoghossian, a wrestling champion who will run the ball and play linebacker, and Davis, who’ll set up at wide receiver and free safety, will be relied on heavily, especially early in the season.
“It’s a different year. It’s a different feel with the guys on the team,” DerBoghossian said. “We’re close. You make fun of a guy and then you pick him up. It’s a different group. Everyone wants a different outcome” than past seasons.
Schenectady concluded its 2014 campaign with a four-game losing streak against Colonie, LaSalle, Guilderland and Bishop Maginn despite averaging more than 24 points.
“Brandon broke a bunch of passing records. We scored a lot of points, and I think we’ll be okay there,” Cerrone said. “On defense we struggled, and that’s been a big focus for us. A lot games in the third quarter we were right there and then we ran out of gas or whatever. We want to get back to our old attitude. Our old style.”
Schenectady did enough good things on both sides of the ball to reach the Section II playoffs six straight times from 2007-12. Schenectady twice made it to the semifinal round during that playoff run, and, in 2008, advanced to its only Class AA Super Bowl.
“I have personally put a lot of pressure on myself and my staff. It’s our third year doing this,” Cerrone said. “Only the kids can reflect how we’ll we’re doing. We want to get them going in the right direction.”
The Patriots were going that way at the beginning of last season with wins against Ballston Spa and Albany. A loss to eventual Liberty Division champion Shaker in Week 3 began a downward spiral.
“We’ve got to give it all we have, and we’ll have a good chance,” DerBoghossian said. “If we go to the fourth quarter or even overtime, we’ll have to stay with it. We can’t give up.”
“I sense that these kids want to play for each other,” Cerrone said.
Schenectady will host Amsterdam in a scrimmage Saturday morning. Amsterdam’s backfield will include Gazette All-Area first-teamer Bryan Stanavich. The Patriots open regular season play a week from tonight at Guilderland.
“We’re going to get a good test from Amsterdam. They play us tough every year,” Cerrone said. “We should get a good indication of where we are.”
Categories: High School Sports, Sports
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