After a .500 record just four months ago, the Fonda-Fultonville football squad along and its senior leaders are ready to do damage in the Section II Class C North Division this fall.
“We’ve been together a long time, our senior class and the guys below us were getting right after it,” senior captain Garrett Neff said during last week’s Section II media day at Shenendehowa High School. “It was a little bit of a taste of it in the spring, but right now we’re ready to get after it.”
During the 2020-21 academic year, “high” risk fall sports — including football — were not permitted to take place during their regular position in the calendar, moving instead to an abbreviated “Fall II” season held during March and April. This school year, sports are currently moving forward without such restrictions in place at a state- or section-wide level, though individual districts are putting forth their own requirements for COVID-19 testing, masking and vaccination.
The introduction of a shortened spring football season — albeit a one-year anomaly — could pay dividends for the Braves.
“I would expect the level of play to be pretty high this fall because you, you got a lot of teams that had a lot of experience in the spring and then just kept going,” Fonda-Fultonville head coach Sean Thompson said. “We did a lot of seven on sevens and a lot of work on the turf this summer.”
Thompson can speak with confidence, returning the majority of his offensive and defensive starters this fall.
“We have everything in offense, defense and special teams so we’re way ahead of where we normally would be in a normal pre-season,” Thompson said. “We’re pretty optimistic. We’ll see what happens.”
Included in the returning starters is Neff, a Braves three-year captain who said he will rely heavily on his senior teammates who also attended the media day — Derek Duval, Giovanni DiCaprio, and Tyler Schmidtmann.
“The guys here, they don’t need to be preached at as much as I had to do it my sophomore year because these guys know what they have to do,” Neff said. “They’re hungry, they’re always checking each other, and holding each other to a high standard.”
With a fully digested playbook along with a 3-3 record during the Fall II season under the belt of the Braves, Neff has lofty expectations — just short of a guarantee.
“It’s not that in the spring we weren’t synchronized, it’s just this fall the level is that much higher,” Neff said. “It was definitely an unprecedented time with all that stuff, I think it made all these guys and everyone we are going to play against just that much hungrier. I think we’ll be coming out with renewed energy; it’s going to be fun to watch.”