Friday, August 28, 2009

Training camp report: Hoosick Falls

Junior Mike Brewster is set to take over as the Panthers' quarterback, and he's used to the limelight. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Mike and his younger brothers, Matt and Levi, are in a band called, of course, The Brewster Brothers. You can check out their YouTube page here.

Hoosick Falls head coach Ron Jones called Mike Brewster a "renaissance man" for all of his off-the-field activities, but he's expected to fall right into the Panthers' pass-happy offense as well.

"He’s a tough son of a gun," Jones said of his junior QB. "He starts at outside linebacker for us and I’d love to get him off the field, but I can’t. I can’t. I don’t know why. He’s too tough. If he gets hurt… The next guys just aren’t quite ready yet, but I might have told you that about him last year."

The Panthers have a great weight lifting facility and a couple of college football alumni that really lifted the program in the offseason. Jason Poore (read more about Poore here on Andrew Santillo's college sports blog) is a wide receiver at the University at Albany and Eric Manning is the starting right tackle at Alfred State. Their presence inspires the next generation of players at Hoosick Falls to work hard in the weight room, whether they are college-level talents or not.

"We had a great weightlifting summer," Brewster said. "We had a ton of kids dedicated to it. We would come out every night and throw routes on the field for an hour, an hour and a half. I worked the footwork, too. I didn’t have the best footwork in the beginning, but I’ve been working on it."

The Panthers return a healthy amount of players, including wide receiver/outside linebacker Kevin McMahon - all 6-feet-6 of him. Brewster is imagining McMahon as his main target on offense, but the two realize that their biggest strength to the team is on the other side of the ball.

"I like the defensive part better, unless I getting the ball thrown to me every time," McMahon laughed.

One of the biggest traditions in town is the yearly practice when the pee wee players in Hoosick Falls join the varsity Panthers for a few exercises and drills. McMahon and Brewster both vividly remembered when they dropped by as youngsters in 2003 - the year the Panthers made it all the way to the New York State Class C championship game.

Now they're hoping to return the favor.

"A couple years ago playing Cambridge, the youth guys surprised us when we came out of the locker room because they made a gauntlet," Jones said. "It really pumped my guys up. Whenever we walked through the crowd at halftime, Poore, no matter the score, or what the game was, give every kid five. These guys remember that and now they're building the tradition and that atmosphere. The little guys want to be at the games because they know the big guys are going to give them five. It’s fun, so we try to have flag football at halftime once a year, fun stuff to get everybody involved."

Hoosick Falls head coach Ron Jones barks instructions to his players during a recent practice.

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