Panthers look for fast start in Class C
After winning six straight Section II Class C titles, a state championship in 2012 and a runner-up finish in 2014, Hoosick Falls football is just 9-9 between 2015 and 2016.
But there are pieces in place to turn things around, to get the Panthers back to where they were just a few years ago.
"We did some good things in the scrimmage [last weekend], we performed better than I thought," said coach Ron Jones. "I still don't know where we're at until we're under the lights [tonight]. We have plenty to work on, but we were as physical as Schuylerville [in the scrimmage], we were there to compete."
Some of that starts at the quarterback position. Sam Richard takes over under center for Aaron Tomczak, after winning the battle against Brandon Decker and Max Kipp. But Jones is adamant that Decker and Kipp will be on the field as much as possible.
"Both Brandon and Max will split time in the backfield, which gives us some good flexibility," Jones said. "Those guys have to be on the field because they can help our team. Brandon's been a good leader, ultimately Sam pulled ahead."
In the backfield, senior Drew Hoag is back after leading the Panthers in rushing yards, but the Panthers will have to make up for losing Tristen Hunt, who had more than 750 all-purpose yards last season, to graduation.
"It should serve us well, it keeps us healthy to have a bunch of guys running the ball, we're pretty competent back there," Jones said.
On the outside, leading receiver David Everard is back on the soccer pitch this season, switching back to soccer. Senior Lucas Brogue and junior Jeff Vincent will be the main targets, along with Nicholas Giordano. Some of the younger guys like Isaac Friel should get some time as well.
On the offensive line, Craig Sawyer returns, along with Ian Carknard, both who are expected to lead the way for Hoag, Richard and the offense. Freshman Zachary Tomczak and sophomore Dmitri Rose will get time on the line.
"Nate Miller was our most consistent lineman on both sides of the ball at the scrimmage, Brennan Andrew performed well too," Jones said. Brennan is in the mix with Lucas and Sam at linebacker. We're a little inexperienced up front."
Defensively, most of the top tacklers graduated. Hoag was third behind Tomczak and Jon Bossoni with 50 stops. Brogue had 25 stops from his linebacker spot, while AJ Hurlburt made 16 as a defensive back. Hurlburt also led the team with three interceptions.
The Panthers open the year on the road with games against Lake George and Corinth before coming back home to play Stillwater and Coxsackie-Athens. In Week 5, they'll travel west across the section to face Fonda before home games to end the regular season against Holy Trinity and Mechanicville.
"It's the nature of the beast, there's a lot of travel this year," Jones said. "I'm happy to have two divisions [in Class C] instead of three."
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