Hoosick Falls looks to continue run of success
Since 2009, the Panthers have won or held a share of the Wasaren League title seven times. In the rest of the program's history, they've won the league just seven times, so it's clear Hoosick is going through its most thriving period.
Hoosick Falls aims to continue that run of success this season, but take it to the next level. After earning a share of the league title last season, the Panthers got knocked out in the first round of the Section II Class B against Catskill.
Their quick playoff exit acts as motivation for Hoosick Falls in the early stages of the season.
"Our potential is pretty high, but it's going to take a lot of hard work for us to get to what we want to get to," Lilac said. "We've got four starters back from a really solid team and we ended the season in a disappointing way last year. For a lot these guys, it's going to be about their mindset, being able to handle adversity and bounce back from mistakes."
The four starters Lilac is alluding to are Guy Milliman, Evan McCart, Jonathan Kempf and CJ Baker. Between those four, they scored 801 of the Panthers 1,207 points last season. The only major loss from last season's team to graduation was Alex Haynes, who had three 20-point games last season.
Having that group back for the 2017-18 season will be key for Hoosick Falls as they look to continue their run of success in the Wasaren League.
"Starting out we're a little ahead of where teams normally start out," Lilac said. "We've got some key guys that we're hoping can play for us that are new, so we're trying to balance it out. We don't want to leave those new guys in the dust, so we're trying to bring them along and be more advanced than we were last year."
Lilac is no novice when it comes to roaming the sidelines with the Panthers. Having been the coach since the 1996-97 season, he has racked up over 300 wins. With the success the program has had under Lilac's watch, especially in recent seasons, a winning culture has been bred that the current crop of players continue to build upon.
"We've had a good run of seasons in the league the last couple years," Lilac said. "Through a lot of hard work from a lot the younger and youth coaches, we built a pretty sold thing here, so it's a little bit of tradition that the guys enjoy. It's good to be a part of something bigger than you."
Hoosick Falls gets its season started next Tuesday when they take on Schalmont in Schenectady at 7:30 p.m. The Sabres finished last season 11-11, but have a long history of successful seasons in recent years. The last time the two teams met was during the 2014-15 season when the Panthers topped Schalmont 38-36.
With less than a week until the season tips off for Hoosick Falls, they are going to use the remaining preseason time they have to work out the kinks before the season.
"Our biggest thing we've been harping on is teamwork," said Lilac about what the team needs to work on before the opening game. "Shot selection is big. Overcoming adversity and overcoming mistakes is very important. We're never going to take you out for making a mistake, but our response to mistakes last year wasn't always good, so that's a big thing we've been harping on."
Adam Aucoin can be reached at email@example.com and at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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