Thursday, August 20, 2009

Training camp report: Shenendehowa High

Shenendehowa head coach Brent Steuerwald, the only head coach in school history, is five victories away from 300 in his legendary career. (Photo by Tom Killips - The Record).

It's hard not to see how good the new field looks at Shenendehowa. It's the first thing I noticed as I drove by looking for the Plainsmen at practice on Thursday.

After a 5-4 season, the Plainsmen are hoping to look as good as their new field will.

When I mentioned the "struggles" Shen has had in the past three seasons (their record is 15-12 and that's struggling by Shen standards) senior offensive lineman Austin Lane had this to say.

"I'm aware."

Athletic Director Christopher Culnan couldn't stop raving about the field. He told me that they would be rededicating the field during their first home game on Sept. 11 against Schenectady.

The field will have a giant (and I mean giant) scoreboard that was in the process of being put up while practice was going on an adjacent field.

"It's obviously a very special season when you're looking at a refurbished stadium, a turf field and all the things that go with the whole picture," coach Brent Steuerwald said.

Another thing that the team was raving about was how in shape everyone was coming into the season.

"We're really in shape," Lane said. "We put in a lot of extra time in the offseason to get conditioned and that's definitely paying off now."

Steuerwald told me that the team seems to be more balanced this year after last season when 13 of the 22 starters were underclassmen.

He also said he was happy to have hung around this long and is able to coach on this great new facility that he has been provided.

The Plainsmen should be solid on defense, but both players I talked to seemed to think the defensive focus was paramount.

"I think our team needs to step up more on defense if we're going to win and go far this year," said senior running back Suhayb Banks.

"Our big thing is we need to shut down on defense and I think we can do that with this year's squad," echoed Lane.

Steuerwald is just five wins away from 300 and the Plainsmen are hungry to avenge what was a first round playoff exit to Niskayuna last season.

Note: This post is written by Andrew Santillo, who is helping out with our 48-page high school football 2009 preview section, which is set to hit the newsstands on Thursday, Sept. 3

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