Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Training camp report No. 3: Watervliet High School

WATERVLIET -- The Watervliet Cannoneers were a lot of things in 2009. They were one of the hottest teams out of the gate, posting three straight shutouts to open the season. Then, in Week Four, Watervliet played Voorheesville, lost 28-21 and never won again.

There were a couple of reasons for that. One, the Cannoneers had a backloaded schedule, making their final regular season stretch a brutal one against some of Class C's best teams. In the lockerroom and on the practice field, that Watervliet team had its issues as well.

James Lockett has moved from offensive guard to tackle for his senior season. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

“Last year we had a good team and we were close, but when something bad happened, it would break apart and we wouldn’t work together any more,” senior two-way tackle James Lockett said. “That was one of the bad flaws on that team.

“This year, I think we have a positive image on each other. The leaders are pushing the younger kids and we aren’t making fun of anybody.”

Senior running back and defensive back Ryan Manning may also see some time as a slot receiver this year for the Cannoneers.

The problems weren't just isolated to personnel issues.

“Last year we had a lack of physical toughness,” head coach Erick Bernard said on the second day of practice. “We haven’t put the pads on yet, but can sense more toughness. We’ve focused a lot on mental toughness as well as physical toughness. The way they’ve been going at it in practice, it looks good.”

James Lockett was all smiles before Tuesday's evening practice session at the Watervliet Dome Field, the new training camp home for the Cannoneers.

"I was a guard last year and I'm switching to tackle," Lockett said. "It’s pretty difficult. I have to learn the plays. Tackles are more simpler than guards since I'm not pulling. I did like pulling. I liked hitting people, but the coaches wanted me to play tackle."

Pat Ebenhoch could be one of the biggest receiving targets for quarterback Brandon Legault this season. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

The Cannoneers like to stretch the field with their spread offense. Brandon Legault wasn't one of the most productive quarterbacks in Section II in terms of the yardage he accumulated, but he was incredibly efficient and accurate with his passes.

He'll have a number of options to throw to, but one of the most improved may be Pat Ebenhoch, who earned his stripes last season as a sophomore.

"Last year, I wasn’t like a leader, but now since the seniors from last year graduated, I feel like I have more of a role and can pick other people up," Pat Ebenhoch said.

"He's a blue collar worker," Bernard said of Ebenhoch. "He brings his lunchpail and he goes to work."

With another year of experience under their belts and the lesson learned that toughness wins football games, the Cannoneers are thinking big in 2010.

"We were a little intimidated last year," Ebenhoch said. "From JV to varsity, it’s a totally different speed. This year we're much more comfortable."

"I think we learned a lot from last year from what happened after we won the first three games and it all fell apart," Bernard said. "I think this year we’re going to be a little more mentally tough and they’re going to be ready to go."

Pat Ebenhoch is set to emerge as one of the junior class leaders on the Watervliet football team in 2010.

Watervliet, 2009 game-by-game results
Cairo-Durham, W 34-0
Voorheesville, L 28-21
Canajoharie, L 20-0
CHATHAM, L 56-14
Taconic Hills, L 36-10*
*Crossover game
Home games in CAPS

Watervliet, 2009 stats review
Rushing, Att, Yds., Avg., TDs
Ryan Manning, 50, 325, 6.5, 5
Passing, Comp., Att., Yds., Avg., TDs
Brandon Legault, 49, 75, 547, 11.2, 7
Receiving, No., Yds., Avg., TDs
Ryan Manning, 10, 97, 9.7, 0
Scoring, TD, 2-pt, PAT, FG, Tot.
Ryan Manning, 5, 0, 0, 0, 30

Watervliet, 2010 schedule
Saturday Sept. 4, vs. Taconic Hills, 1 p.m.
Friday Sept. 10, at Catholic Central, 7 p.m.
Saturday Sept. 18, vs. Canajoharie, 1 p.m.
Friday Sept. 24, at Tamarac, 7 p.m.
Friday Oct. 1, at Chatham, 7 p.m.
Saturday Oct. 9, at Coxsackie-Athens, 1 p.m.
Saturday Oct. 16, vs. Voorheesville, 1 p.m.

Watervliet’s three keys to the season
1, Improve physical and mental toughness.
2, Come together as a team.
3, Find offensive weapons beyond running back Ryan Manning and quarterback Brandon Legault.

Watervliet head coach Erick Bernard runs with the ball during a drill in Tuesday, August 17's practice on the Watervliet Dome Field. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

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 Thursday, 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 Thursday, Sept. 2.

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