Training camp report No. 3: Watervliet High School
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.
“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.”
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.”
"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."
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."
Watervliet, 2009 game-by-game results
CATHOLIC CENTRAL, W 13-0
Cairo-Durham, W 34-0
ICHABOD CRANE, W 64-0
Voorheesville, L 28-21
Canajoharie, L 20-0
CHATHAM, L 56-14
FONDA-FULTONVILLE, L 34-14
Taconic Hills, L 36-10*
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.
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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