Schenectady football: New coach, new turf, same goal (with video)

They still refer to themselves as a “Band of Brothers,” and their desire to win a Section II footbal
Schenectady High School’s Herman Seise, right, practices field goals with teammate Jallah Tarver on Monday.
Schenectady High School’s Herman Seise, right, practices field goals with teammate Jallah Tarver on Monday.

They still refer to themselves as a “Band of Brothers,” and their desire to win a Section II football championship hasn’t changed.

So much else is new with the Schenectady football program, starting with its enthusiastic head coach, Jim Kramer, who inherits a team that last season won a record eight contests, captured its first division championship and reached its first Section II title game.

His Patriots will play their home games on a new synthetic turf at Larry Mulvaney Field, and many of them will be starting for the first time, or find themselves in different roles.

“Everybody says we lost a lot of athletes, but we’ve got a lot back, too,” said Schenectady senior John Ramirez, an offensive tackle and defensive end. “We’re strong. We’re going to be good.”

The 28-year-old Kramer believes his first team has the potential to be very good, despite losses at quarterback, running back and middle linebacker, three significant pos­itions.

“We’re going to come out every day with the attitude that we love this sport, and we’re going to outwork out opponents,” Kramer said Monday after his first practice session with the new-look Pats. “ I believe if we come to work every day — and continue to believe in each other — we’ll do good things.”

Kramer was thrilled with the good things he saw Monday under a blazing sun at Mont Pleasant Middle School as Schenectady began working toward what it en­visions as another grand campaign. Last season’s highlights included a six-game winning streak capped by a victory over LaSalle to clinch the Liberty Division title, back-to-back playoff wins for the first time, against Ballston Spa and Niskayuna, and a No. 22 ranking in the final state Class AA poll.

“It was an unbelievable first session with the energy they showed,” Kramer said with a big grin. “It’s a mental hurdle to get through this kind of heat, but they came with a great attitude. It’s great to set the tone right off the bat.”

“All of the kids were excited, and ready to get going. Everyone was pumped up for this,” said junior Tim Cox, who’ll start at strong safety again while taking over for Nick Ottati at quarterback. “We’ve put most of the offense in, so the next couple of weeks are about getting in shape, and finding a groove as a team.”

“Everyone in this locker room is ready to go,” said senior center/tackle Nick Barone, the team’s only returning first-team Liberty Div­ision all-star among six selected in 2008. “We’re already thinking about Albany.”

Schenectady will make its debut Friday night, Sept. 4, at home against Albany. The Patriots are anticipating a result different from their last outing, a 26-14 loss to LaSalle in the Section II Class AA championship game.

“That’s the focus point to move us along,” said Cox. “We’re using that game as motivation. It was a big loss, and this year, we want to win it all.”

“That loss to LaSalle set with a lot of kids,” said Kramer, who served as Schenectady’s offensive coordinator under head coach Carm DePoalo the last two years. “They know what we need to do to get back there, and they know what we need to do to get over the hump. LaSalle beat us, and that gave us a chance to reflect.”

“That loss made us work a lot harder in the offseason,” said Barone. “We want to get back to the Super Bowl, and win it. We want to go to the state tournament.”

Can that happen after sustaining such a heavy player turnover? Guilderland could not turn the trick last year after its sensational 2007 season, which also ended with a Super Bowl loss to LaSalle.

“After last season, we want to go further, and we’re ready to work for it,” said junior Isaiah Earing, a tight end/linebacker. “The guys who were backups last year or didn’t play have got to step up.”

“We want to prove everyone wrong, like we did when I was a sophomore,” said Barone. “Nobody thought we’d do too much that year, and we went 5-4. That was a breakthrough year for us.”

That was the first winning season for the Patriots, who began playing in 1988, and had never won more than four games in any of those 19 years. The goals are much higher now, and the target on their collective back is much bigger.

“It’s a position we relish. It’s a position you want to be in. We’re circled on everyone else’s schedule,” said Kramer. “It means you’ve done some positive things. It means you’ve earned it. At the same time, it means you have to work awfully hard to maintain that.”

Cox will play a big role in his transition to starting quarterback, as will senior Herman Seise, who is penciled in as Schenectady’s starting tailback after playing a backup role in 2008. Seise will take over for two-time 1,000-yard rusher Marc Thompson, while guard/linebacker Dan Desbiens, wide receiver/cornerback Anthony Cooper, two-way end Marcus Brandon, defensive end Rashawn Champ, kicker Johnny Best and linemen Kwami Hilts and Billy Rios have also moved on.

“A lot of guys people read about in the paper last year are gone, but we have guys who are capable,” said Kramer, who mentioned seniors David McKeiver and Jason Nesmith as possible impact performers on the offensive side. “They have ability.”

“New guys are going to be called on,” Barone said. “I have a feeling as the season goes along, they’ll know what to do.”

David Doty joins Barone as a returning starter on the offensive line, and fellow senior Steve Kent has experience in the secondary.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports


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