Camp files: Spackenkill
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Coach: Clinton Desouza (third season)
Conference: Section 9 Class B
2011 record: 8-2; lost in Section 9 final to Marlboro
Five observations from camp:
1. They’re big. And they’re loud. First, the Spartans have tremendous size up and down the roster and could physically match up with many larger schools in Section 9. Also, if you’re driving through the neighborhood around the school, you know when they’re practicing by the yelling, grunting and banging of the pads. It’s as loud a practice as you’ll ever hear. Said senior Josh Riley: “That’s just the high intensity level we bring every day.”
2. Veterans everywhere. There are so many familiar names on this roster. The Spartans return 17 players from last season, nine of which saw significant time on offense, defense or both.
3. Strong turnout. Clinton Desouza is a former Spackenkill player who has spent the last eight seasons coaching in the program. And he said the 30 kids they have signed up for varsity this season “has to be a program record.” Success breeds enthusiasm and there’s plenty of it right now around the Spackenkill program.
4. Josh Riley has some big arms (and feet): The 6-foot-2, 220-pound tight end/linebacker — who was a captain as a junior last season — is a menace on both sides of the ball. He is a punishing blocker and tackler and may be on the short list of Section 9’s most intimidating players. If you meet him in person, you’ll definitely note he has huge feet — size 15, to be exact. “I actually put my shoe on inside of his shoe,” running back Wayne Bowden said. “That’s how big his feet are.”
5. Replacing a star QB. Spackenkill graduated its most dynamic player, quarterback K.J. Williams, who accumulated over 1,200 yards passing/rushing and 19 touchdowns. Evan Loughran, who saw time in the sectional final when Williams went down with an injury, takes over and has worked extremely hard in the offseason according to teammates. He’s poised to post comparable numbers this fall.
Players to Watch: Josh Riley, Sr., TE/LB; Wayne Bowden, Sr., RB/LB/KR; Nick Celestino, Sr., FB/LB; Zach Short, Sr., OL/DL; Dean Ruggieri, Sr., OL/NG.
Names to learn: Marc Horvath, Sr., WR/DB; Evan Loughran, Jr., QB; Antonio Pendleton, Jr., OL/DL.
Season outlook: There’s two ways to look at 2011 at Spackenkill. You could view it as the turnaround year where the program made history and competed for a Section 9 title. Or you could look at the fact the Spartans lost a title game they felt they probably should have won.
Both are technically correct. And both are driving this year’s group.
Spackenkill won its first ever regular season championship and, in the Section 9 Class B championship game, faced a Marlboro squad that it beat handily in the regular season. Marlboro walked away with an ugly 14-7 victory.
Injuries played a role, specifically to quarterback K.J. Williams. But so did turnovers as Marlboro took advantage of all three by the Spartans.
Spackenkill has the talent and the mettle to capture their first Section 9 title. But Desouza, Riley and all the players interviewed at camp on Wednesday said the one thing they learned last season was to not get caught up in their championship aspirations.
They’re focusing on the now, not November. If they do, they feel their title dreams will take care of themselves.
8/31 at New Paltz
9/7 at Highland
9/15 Rondout Valley
9/22 at Saugerties
9/28 at Marlboro
10/20 Red Hook
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