CLIFTON PARK — The regular season will be short.
The Shenendehowa football team’s roster will be extra-large.
“More student-athletes decided to come out for football because for the past year, there were no athletics, so guys that really had a desire to play at some point came out,” Shenendehowa coach Brian Clawson said during Monday’s practice. “We had 72 try out for our team — and 60 made it, 10 more than last year. We kept some extra seniors and we’ve got a good group here.”
That depth will be critical for the Plainsmen, especially in terms of filling the shoes of running back Billy Beach — a 2020 graduate — for Shenendehowa. Beach amassed 1,691 yards and 28 touchdowns rushing, plus 275 yards and five TDs on 15 receptions during a season that saw Shenendehowa win the Section II Class AA crown.
To replace Beach, Clawson will rely on returners Kyle Acker, Trevon Joyner and three-year starter Dyvante Terrelonge for speed, with returning 5-foot-10, 265-pound fullback Jaysiah Woodrow to lead the way.
Clawson said the Plainsmen are solid at the skilled positions this year, but has an inexperienced line in front of returning quarterback Brody Vincenzi to start this “Fall II” season that opens Friday for the Plainsmen against Shaker.
“[Vincenzi] led us to sectional and regional finals as a junior,” Clawson said. “He’s really been working hard . . . and he’s put himself in a position to be successful this year.”
The Fall II season got underway with practices earlier this month. The season includes sports that were not offered in the fall due to issues related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. For football, competition is able to start this week, and Class AA schools are planning to play a five-week regular season before a two-week postseason.
The postponement of the traditional fall football start gave Vincenzi and Terrelonge more time to work on their individual skills.
“I didn’t lose too much. My teammates and I have been coming out here a lot on the field [practicing],” Vincenzi said. “We’ve been throwing and the winter 7-v-7 [competitions] got us to think [about our plays] coming into the season.”
He is also embracing the running-back-by-committee model Clawson has planned.
“We’re always getting fresh legs into the backfield, and we can beat you either way,” Vincenzi said. “We can beat you on the run or we can beat you in the air.”
Terrelonge was selected as the Plainsmen’s defensive captain and will look to stop Shenendehowa’s opponents air attacks at cornerback and be part of the Plainsmen’s speedy backfield trio on the ground.
Terrelonge said he took some tips from watching Beach carve up opposing defenses the past two seasons.
“His cutbacks were always great; he was so shifty, no one could really tackle him [with] just one player,” Terrelonge said. “He really taught me about juking, footwork and those types of things during the offseason.
“I can’t be another Billy Beach, but I’m going to try and be like him.”