Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Training camp report No. 9: Averill Park High School

AVERILL PARK -- Brian Hardy had wrestled whole life, starting when he was four years old. But this winter, he took a break from the mats to prepare for the 2010 football season, which he hopes will be a special one for the Warriors.

"I took it off this year just to train with coach Gobel," said Hardy, a senior quarterback and outside linebacker. "He said that it would be a good decision. It’s good to have a break and play a lot of sports. It keeps your mind off just one thing."

With about two dozen seniors on the varsity team this fall, Averill Park is hoping that it has the leadership and experience to compete in Class A in Section II, which has sent a team to the state championship game three straight years. Lansingburgh lost in the 2007 game and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake has come up one game short each of the past two seasons.

The 2009-10 school year was a great one for Averill Park athletics, as the girls basketball team won New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Federation Tournament of Champions Class A titles and the baseball team appeared in the Section II Class A championship game. The boys basketball team also won its division in the Suburban Council regular season.

With an abundance of multi-sport athletes at the school, Hardy's decision to specialize was unique.

"A lot of us have been playing together since Pop Warner, so we're trying to make this count," he said.

Zach Gobel, in his second year as the head coach at Averill Park, talks with his players during practice on August 19, 2010. (Photos by Mike McMahon - The Record).

You better believe that the football team has applied the lessons of hard work and dedication that they learned watching the girls basketball team and playing on the baseball team to the gridiron.

"There is a ton of teamwork through baseball and through football," said senior running back and defensive back Tyler Listing. "We’re just coming out every day and trying our best and sticking together. We’re a big family."

It really is a big program at Averill Park, as in upward of 80 players turned out for the varsity and junior varsity teams this season. Gobel has certainly done his share of recruiting first-time players that he sees during the school year in gym class, but the Warriors also have a steady stream of players that have risen up through the Pop Warner program in town to the varsity squad.

"This group of seniors is a fun group to be around," Gobel said. "It’s the first time in a long time where I’ve only coached one sport, so I spend a lot of time with those guys. I’ve enjoyed it. they’re good kids to be around."

Averill Park players swarm a ball-carrier during a recent practice at the school. The Warriors boasted about their scout teams, claiming they will be a key to their success in 2010.

Averill Park bookended its 2009 regular season with wins, but went just 1-4 in the middle of the year. Still, with plenty of returning starters on both sides of the ball, the Warriors are hoping that their experience pays immediate dividends in 2010.

"I think we have a lot of kids returning that played a lot last year," said senior two-way lineman C.J. Laiacona. "I think that will help us continue everything that we made last year together. We’ll all be on the field again."

"We were in the weight room a lot more, conditioning, doing long distance runs and working on agility to get us better prepared for the season," said senior two-way lineman Christian Thibeault.

"I think it’s just the seniors working hard knowing it’s their last year playing a sport," said senior Tyler Dunworth, who serves as the team's fullback, punter and plays defensive end. "If they’re lucky they’ll go to college and keep playing, but we’re just trying to go out with a bang.

"I played basketball and baseball in the past, but last year I didn’t," he continued. "This year I'm going to play them again. It's my senior year, you know, and the last time playing these sports, so why not?"

Ryan Macari, Averill Park's returning starting quarterback, makes a pitch during practice last week. He hopes to be a major contributor for the Warriors in his senior season.

Averill Park playbook
COACH: Zach Gobel
2009 RECORD: 3-5
NICKNAME: Warriors
OFFENSE: not provided
DEFENSE: not provided
DIVISION: Class A, Southeast

Averill Park, 2009 game-by-game results
South Glens Falls, W 19-13
Bishop Maginn, L 25-7
Troy, L 54-0
Scotia-Glenville, W 35-25
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, L 49-0*
*Section II Class A quarterfinals
Home games in CAPS

Averill Park, 2009 stats review
Rushing, Att., Yds., Avg., TDs
Tyler Dunworth, 63, 334, 5.3, 1
Passing, Comp., Att., Yds., Avg., TDs
Ryan Macari, 50, 123, 870, 17.4, 10
Receiving, No., Yds., Avg., TDs
Matt Joe, 16, 371, 21.2, 7
Scoring, TD, 2-pt, PAT, FG, Tot.
Matt Joe, 9, 1, 0, 0, 56

Averill Park’s three keys to the season
1, Come together as a team from a chemistry standpoint. "We need to mesh because the senior class is so big and so close-knit, that they have to bring those juniors in," said head coach Zach Gobel.
2, Prevent injuries.
3, Dealing well with bad breaks. "Some of it is the luck of the draw and how it’s going to play out with other teams," Gobel said.

Averill Park, 2010 schedule
Friday Sept. 3, vs. Gloversville, 7 p.m.
Friday Sept. 10, at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 7 p.m.
Friday Sept. 17, at Scotia-Glenville, 7 p.m.
Friday Sept. 24, vs. Bishop Maginn, 7 p.m.
Friday Oct. 1, vs. Lansingburgh, 7 p.m.
Friday Oct. 8, vs. Ravena, 7 p.m.
Friday Oct. 15, at Mohonasen, 7 p.m.
Oct. 22/29, Playoffs/Crossovers, TBA

Averill Park head coach Zach Gobel speaks with his players during a break in a recent practice.

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.

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
No. 6, Christian Brothers Academy
No. 7, Rensselaer High School
No. 8, Hoosick Falls High School

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