Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Training camp report: Columbia High School

Alex Tesoriero does some pre-practice exercises during at recent workout at Columbia High School. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Tesoriero excelled in 2008 for the Blue Devils as a kicker and punter, but expects to carry much more of the load on offense and defense as a running back and linebacker.
Ryan Kircher wrote a story about Alex's devotion to the kicking game last season, which you can read here.

Columbia has a new head coach, Drew Romanowski, who takes over for Anthony Servidone, who is now focusing entirely on the wrestling program at Columbia. Romanowksi, a 1992 Columbia alum and an assistant at the school for the past three seasons, is hopeful that a big group of players (over 110 turned out for the first day of varsity and junior varsity practices) can help turn the tide in East Greenbush.

The Blue Devils won a single game in 2007, but made a strong push at the end of last season, qualifying for the postseason.

"It’s an exciting time," Romanowski said. "We have over 110 guys in the high school program and that’s a good thing for us. Our numbers are the highest they’ve ever been and the kids are just having a good time running around. We’ll see how that works when we have full pads on, but it’s a good thing right now."

Beside Tesoriero, Columbia is expecting big things out of Brandon Talar, who was fighting for the starting quarterback job when I dropped by practice last week.

Talar said he's been playing football since he was eight years old and grew interested in the sport watching games on TV and decided to try it out for himself. He's played every position on the field, but seems to have found a home under center.

"I played d-line when I was little because I was stocky," Talar said. "Before high school got started, I was a wide receiver and then I moved to QB because we had no one else and I wanted to help the team. Then I realized I started getting a little better at it and I figured I’d stick with it."

I also ran into former Blue Devils star running back Tom Arcidiacono at the Union College football media day this week. Arcidiacono is the Dutchmen running backs coach after finishing his career at Union as the No. 18 all-time rusher in Division III history.

Along with fellow Columbia coaching mainstays Gary Holtz and Daryl Steverson, Arcidiacono has found a home in the fall on Frank Bailey Field in Schenectady. That doesn't mean the former Columbia coach (he assisted there in 2008) will be turning his back on the program.

"Oh, I will be following them," Arcidiacono said. "I have a lot of loyalty to programs I've been with. Holtz and Daryl Steverson coached me at Columbia and now they're here. I always had a lot of good guys around me. Servidone coached in me JV and Pop Warner and I wanted to make the jump up here (to Union). After training with Chris (Coney, Union running back), it felt like natural progression. It was time to come up here."

First-year Columbia High School head coach Drew Romanowski oversees a recent practice at the school.

Romanowski is a third generation coach at Columbia. His father, Ted Romanowski, taught, coached and served as an administrator for over 30 years and the Blue Devils’ playing field is named in honor of his great uncle, Nicholas Budnowski, who taught and coached for many years.

After defensive assistant coaching stops at Plymouth State College and Springfield College, Romanowski served as the defensive coordinator at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts from 2003 to 2005. South Hadley won the Division 1A Super Bowl and state championship in 2005.

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