Thursday, August 26, 2010

Training camp report No. 12: Bishop Maginn High School

ALBANY -- Like many high school football coaches, Joe Grasso gives his players the right to vote for team captains a few days into practice every year.

For the three players voted captains by their teammates at Bishop Maginn High School in 2010, it's hard to imagine them doing very much campaigning in the locker room. They're not the vocal type.

For seniors Isaiah Phillps and Dion Williams, along with junior Sean Spath, Grasso had only the highest praise for their ability to lead by doing, not talking.

"These are the guys taking charge," Grasso said. "They're not vocal leaders, but they're take charge by example kind of guys. They are outstanding citizens in the school."

Phillips, a wide receiver and cornerback, and Williams, a running back and linebacker, are expected to be major players for the Griffins on both sides of the ball in 2010. Phillips will be working with a new quarterback following the graduation of Chris Jeffers and Williams will be among the players jostling for the carries vacated by the loss of Tymear Mallory to graduation.

"It comes from hard work in the weight room, practice over the years and doing what you’re supposed to do," Williams said.

"I feel like it’s a natural thing," said Phillips. "We all hang out outside of football and outside of school, so I think maybe the guys look up to me in different ways."

Isaiah Phillips runs through a pre-practice stretching drill Thursday afternoon at Bishop Maginn High School. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Sean Spath, a Bethlehem native and a two-way returning starter on the line, is one of a few players on the team that does not live in Albany. Still,the Griffins face a tall task every year in not only getting everyone to buy into Grasso's system and learn the plays. Moreover, many of the players at Maginn play football for the first time at the high school level.

"Coach has done a really good job," Spath said. "He gets plays in during the JV years and nothing changes too much. It works."

"We have a distinct disadvantage in that regard," Grasso said. "Pretty much every team we play has a Pop Warner, modified and JV team. They have feeder programs. Many of the kids that we get, I would say half of the kids we get, have never played football before the ninth grade. Their first year and a half to two years, it's a real learning process for them, but by the time they’re juniors, they have a decent amount of experience. They've learned techniques, but they're behind experientially. By their junior year, they've blended with guys that have played for a longer time. It's always worked out pretty well."

Bishop Maginn head coach Joe Grasso was one of the members of the inaugural class of the Capital Region Football Hall of Fame, but he's quickly gone back to work on the practice field. He is the only varsity football head coach in New York State who is also his school's principal.

Two years removed from a berth in the Section II Class A Super Bowl, the Griffins are setting their sights on a successful regular season that gives them a shot in the playoffs again in 2010.

"We feel like we can go a long way," said Phillips. "We have more experience this year than we had last year. Last year was pretty much everyone’s first year playing varsity and having varsity experience, so we should be better this year than we were last year." 

Sean Spath, a Bethlehem native, received a unique honor this year at Bishop Maginn when his teammates voted him a captain. Head coach Joe Grasso can only remember four times in his 30-plus years of coaching experience when a junior served as a team captain.

Bishop Maginn playbook
COACH: Joe Grasso
STARTERS RETURNING: 7 offense, 9 defense
2009 RECORD: 3-6
NICKNAME: Griffins
OFFENSE: Split back veer option
LAST SECTION II TITLE: 1983 (Division I)
DIVISION: Class A, Southeast

Bishop Maginn, 2009 game-by-game results
Amsterdam, W 20-17
Scotia-Glenville, L 39-32
Niskayuna, L 27-12
TROY, L 49-0
Mohonasen, W 33-30
Gloversville, L 39-0*
*Section II Class A quarterfinals
Home games in CAPS

Bishop Maginn, 2009 stats review
Rushing, Att, Yds., Avg., TDs
Tymear Mallory, 186, 1363, 7.3, 11
Passing, Comp., Att., Yds., Avg., TDs
Chris Jeffers, 54, 149, 762, 14.1, 7
Receiving, No., Yds., Avg., TDs
Pierre Sandaire, 15, 238, 15.9, 4
Scoring, TD, 2-pt, PAT, FG, Tot.
Tymear Mallory, 13, 0, 3, 0, 81

Bishop Maginn Roster
No., Player, Yr., Pos. Ht., Wt.
2, John Sica, Jr., QB-S, 6-2, 180
7, Isaiah Phillips, Sr., WR-CB, 6-1, 175
9, Zachary Vickers, Jr., QB-LB, 5-10, 170
20, James Lawitz, Jr., WR-S, 5-10, 175
21, Ra’sean Gill, Sr., WR-CB, 5-10, 150
22, Shaquille McCarthy, Jr., WR-CB, 5-10, 170
23, Dion Williams, Sr., RB-LB, 5-10, 175
24, Antoine Johnson, Jr., RB-LB, 6-0, 180
25, Matthias McKinnon, Jr., RB-CB, 5-10, 175
32, Albert Bruton, Jr., RB-CB, 5-8, 160
51, Sean Spath, Jr., C-NG, 5-9, 220
54, Kelvin Kennedy, Sr., T-DE, 6-0, 190
56, Cliff Graves, Sr., G-DT, 5-10, 240
60, Darrien Higgins, Frosh., T-DT, 5-9, 180
62, Xavier Vasquez, Jr., G-LB, 5-11, 185
70, Ja’juan Williams, Soph., T-DT, 5-10, 260
72, Brian Ziembec, Soph., G-DT, 5-10, 240
73, Dan Hill, Sr., G-DE, 6-0, 215
75, Frank Wilson, Sr., G-DT, 6-0, 250
77, Tommy Wheeler, Soph., T-DT, 6-1, 200
79, Eric Brabham, Sr., G-DT, 6-5, 320
80, Javon Williams, Jr., TE-DE, 6-0, 180
82, Wali Cooper, Jr., TE-DE, 5-11, 180
87, Derreck Thomas, Soph., WR-CB, 6-3, 165

Bishop Maginn’s three keys to the season
1, Scout teams must step up. With just 24 players on the roster, Maginn needs its backups to give the starters a good look in practice for the first team to feel adequately prepared.
2, Learn the game. Head coach Joe Grasso estimates that 50% of his players pick up football for the first time in their freshman year.
3, Find a new quarterback. Maginn lost Chris Jeffers to graduation, meaning junior John Sica will likely be staring under center on opening night.

Bishop Maginn, 2010 schedule
Friday Sept. 3, vs. South Glens Falls, 7 p.m.
Friday Sept. 10, vs. Glens Falls, 7 p.m.
Friday Sept. 17, vs. Mohonasen, 7 p.m.
Friday Sept. 24, at Averill Park, 7 p.m.
Saturday Oct. 2, at Albany Academy, 1:30 p.m.
Friday Oct. 8, vs. Scotia-Glenville, 7 p.m.
Friday Oct. 15, at Lansingburgh, 7 p.m.
Oct. 22/29, Playoffs/Crossovers, TBA

Keep checking back on the blog for a training camp report posted every day between now and opening day of the high school football season on Thurs., Sept. 2. The schools will be posted in no particular order, so please be patient if you don't see your school right away.

Also keep your eyes open for our 48-page preview section - Kickoff 2010 - which hits the newsstands inside The Record on Thurs., Sept. 2. It will feature 21 team previews, columns, feature stories, statistics and pictures to preview the upcoming 2010 high school football season.

Previous training camp reports:
No. 1, Lansingburgh High School
No. 2, Cohoes High School
No. 3, Watervliet High School
No. 4, Columbia High School
No. 5, Catholic Central High School; head coach Ray Gaston update
No. 6, Christian Brothers Academy
No. 7, Rensselaer High School
No. 8, Hoosick Falls High School
No. 9, Averill Park High School 
No. 10, Tamarac High School
No. 11, Troy High School

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