Friday, August 28, 2009

Training camp report: Averill Park

Zach Gobel, in his first season at Averill Park, brings a fiery intensity to team practices. Here, he instructs defensive backs during a drill last week at the school. (Photos by Mike McMahon - The Record).

It wasn't that long ago, in 2005, when the Averill Park Warriors advanced to the Section II Class A Super Bowl, their first such appearance in school history. In a growing school district that had recently joined the Suburban Council's ranks, it seemed as if the Warriors were destined for a bright football future.

Things didn't exactly go according to plan. Averill Park missed the playoffs in 2006 and was bounced in the first round in 2007 and 2008, but with a brand-new head coach, the Warriors are once again thinking optimistically.

"I love the way he coaches," said senior Justin Collen. "He’s an in-your-face kind of guy. He’s almost like a kid out there with you, but he has that much higher level of respect being your coach."

Gobel, who was a longtime assistant and offensive coordinator at Ballston Spa, was pleased to see big numbers come out this season in Averill Park. The Scotties often played with under 30 athletes on the varsity roster, but he expects the depth to help Averill Park this season.

A former wide receiver at Chatham High School and at Springfield College, ran the flex option to great success at Ballston Spa. Dom Monaco and current QB Mark Seager ran like crazy in that Scotties scheme, but the Warriors may be looking to hand the ball off a bit more than Ballston Spa does.

The Warriors are also adapting B-Spa's 4-3 defense and Gobel jokingly gave all of the credit in learning that to Scotties' head coach John Bowen.

I ran into former Averill Park standout Mike Fil, who was named a captain at RPI for his senior season. He's a wide receiver and kick/punt returner, who is trying to rehab from a torn ACL, which he suffered in week 7.

A current Averill Park senior, Justin Collen, is in much the same boat as his predecessor.

Senior running back and linebacker Justin Collen hops through a drill last week at practice. He missed most of the 2008 football season and all of the 2008-09 basketball season with a torn ACL he suffered in a game against Lansingburgh.

He's spent months rehabbing from the injury but is back and ready to go in a final push to end his high school career.

"In double sessions now, I feel like I’m back where I should be, but I still have ways to go," Collen said. "At the same time, I feel like I’m where I should be and I’m looking forward."

Check out more on Averill Park, as well as 20 other schools from the Capital Region, in our 48-page preview section set to hit the newsstands this Thursday, Sept. 3!

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