Monday, August 24, 2009

Training camp report: Watervliet High

Ahshad Thompson runs through drills during the first week of practice at Watervliet High School. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

With 19 seniors on the 2008 team, the Watervliet Cannoneers had big expectations. Those came to fruition, as the Cannoneers put together an inspired run through the Section II Class C playoffs, earning a 10-6 Super Bowl victory over the Black Horses from Schuylerville.

Only one player returns in 2009 that started every game a year ago - Ian Kelly. Other than that, the Cannoneers are full of question marks heading into the opening weekend, but if there is any school in the Capital Region that always finds a way to field a winner, it's Watervliet.

Few players on the team have varsity-level experience, which makes for an interesting practice session.

"There is a lot of teaching going on," said Watervliet head coach Erick Bernard. "A lot of coaching. As a staff, we’re really going to slow things down and coach these kids. It’s a lot of fitting kids in different spots and seeing what will work and what will fit."

Kelly, who is stepping up his abilities as a leader in only his second year of playing football - he was a soccer player before 2008 - singled out a few of his teammates he is expecting big things from in 2009.

"Jeremy LaMarche, a defensive end," Kelly said. "And James Lockett up from the junior varsity, he’ll step up. Jeremy probably worked the hardest in the offseason and James, he just has the natural ability."

If there is one thing in 'Vliet's corner, it's their defense. Aside from a 25-18 loss at Fonda-Fultonville last season, the Cannoneers' defense was exceptional, making life so much easier for the offense.

Kelly will shift from the defensive backfield to middle linebacker and how that transition pans out will determine much as far how well the Cannoneers do in 2009.

Make sure to pick up a copy of our 48-page high school football preview section on Thursday, September 3 to check out rosters, schedules, pictures and statistics for 21 local teams.

Jeremy LaMarche works on exploding out of his tackle stance during the first week of practice at Watervliet High School.

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