MASSENA The seeds of potential success for the 2013 edition of the Massena football team were planted last season.
The Raiders closed out 2012 with three straight wins to finish at 5-4 while the junior varsity squad methodically marched its way to an undefeated season. Varsity coach Anthony Diagostino is hoping to build a Northern Athletic Conference contender out of a combination of the core players from both teams.
We were young last year and we had some tough losses but we won our last three games and wound up with a winning record. We also had a very good undefeated JV team. That gives us a good group of returning players and some good talent coming up and theyve all shown theyve developed a winning attitude, Diagostino said.
The Raiders begin the season with a roster of nearly 40 players that features an even mix of veterans and newcomers.
Key offensive returnees include seniors Josh Belile and Rory Corcoran, who are battling for the starting job at quarterback, and a capable stable or running backs that includes seniors JP Reagan, Connor Paquin and Jeremy Malone, along with junior Josh Manley.
Rory took most of the snaps last year and hes looked good in practice. Josh didnt play a lot but hes put in a lot of work during the offseason and has really picked up his game, Diagostino said. At this point, we have a little bit of a quarterback competition going on and thats a good problem to have.
Reagan and Paquin emerged as two of the top rushers for Massena last fall and are expected to play lead roles this season while Manley and first-year junior Isaiah Dillabough will also get their share of carries out of the backfield.
Senior Xavier Viskovich returns to lead a receiving corps that also includes classmates Billy Orlando and Kyle Nicholson, along with first-year seniors Robert Cunningham and Willie Stewart, who competed at the JV level earlier in their high school careers but opted not to play last fall.
The Raiders suffered their biggest losses to graduation on the line where they will look to fill the void left by the departures of standouts Jordan Hart and Kioweren Rouke.
Third-year senior Josh Blair is expected to anchor the line hopes along with classmates Sam Gerber, Ross Davis and Cody Hooper, who is slated to start at center.
Jordan and Kioweren are big losses but we like what weve seen so far from our line, Diagostino said.
Other veterans on the Massena roster include seniors Andrew Harvey (SE), Asa Kerschner (RB ), Alex Romeo (SE/DE) and Noah Serabian (SE/CB). Newcomers looking to make an impact include senior Dakota Bernard (OL/DL) along with juniors Jacob Arquette-Laffin (OL/DL), Cordell Benedict (OL/DL), Reed Chapman (OL/LB), Bailey Furnace (LO/DL), Sean Green (LO/DL), Cody Jones (OL/DL), Jayce Lanning (RB/CB), Brody LeCuyer (OL/DL), Billy MacCuaig (OL/DL), Thler Mott (SE/OLB), Zachary Plourde (RB/LB), Nate Premo (OL/LB), Young Joe Rourke (OL/DL), Matt Thibault (RB/OLB) and Tim VanTassell (TE/DE).
As the lone Class A program in the NAC, the Raiders will not be participating in a Section 10 tournament this fall and have an automatic bid to the state tournament.