All of the preseason preparations are now in place.
Now the OFA football team will test its rites of passage in the waters of a new football season and on a new turf field on Friday night in a 7:30 p.m. start against St. Lawrence Central.
The contest will follow a 4:30 p.m. opener by the Devil JVs against Canton.
The Blue Devils will open their season in an interdivisional game against St. Lawrence Central which has dropped to Class D this season. The Larries show a very upbeat attitude looking to build toward the Section 10 Class Championship D game against Tupper Lake.
The Larries featured 13 returning players including one of the league’s premier ball carriers in sophomore Mike Plante who was at his elusive best in a wild 52-40 OFA win at SLC last fall.
“Bill (SLC Coach Bill Scharf) told me at the coaches meeting that he is very upbeat about the season. They have a lot of kids and things are moving in the right direction for them,” said OFA Coach Matt Tessmer.
Coach Tessmer and his staff of Charlie McCormick, Tony Williams and Brett Monnat are looking to keep the 2014 Devils in the right direction as their 2013 predecessors took to win Section 10 and North Country (Section 10-7) Class C honors.”
“The guys work very hard, we had a good scrimmage, and right now our big keys are to keep getting better and avoiding injuries. But I think that is the way it will be throughout the league. The only injury we have had so far was a shoulder problem to Will Pearson who should be back next week.”
The Devils are captained by three seniors who play major roles in last year’s success: offensive lineman-linebacker Nolan Rufa, wide receiver-safety Nick Sweeney and slotback Jon Rogers who will also be part of the defensive backfield rotation and return punts and kickoffs.
The bulk of the Devils starters will look to draw positives from last year’s experience.
The offensive line features Rufa at left tackle and fellow seniors Quinton Denner and Devon Compo at left guard and right tackle. Juniors Nathan Rishe and Zade Lesperance are ready at right guard and center. Sophomores Jack Kelly and Devin Thurman are the top reserves in the blocking front.
Sophomore quarterback Joey Dalton will direct the offense and will be joined the backfield by seniors Taylor Richardson and Rogers with Sweeney and another senior in Cody Rolfe heading a wide receiver rotation. A rotation which includes Andrew Layng, Jack Manke and David Prudhomme. Senior Will Pearson (when healthy) and junior Eddie Newcomb will also see action at running back and sophomore Anthoni Pope can play either running back or slotback.
“Joey Dalton stepped in and won two big games for us last year so he is definitely ready to run the offense. He is bigger and stronger this year so he will be very comfortable running more,” said Tessmer who also been very pleased with the preseason showing of backup quarterback Adam Rickett.
“We have excellent receivers and a good mix at running back.”
Prudhomme will also handle the place kicking duties.
The defensive front will feature Lesperance, Compo, Pearson (when healthy), Brent Mills, Newcombe and Kelly in a regular rotation backed by Rishe and junior Allen Smithers.
Rufa and Richardson return to the anchor the linebacking corps with Manke, coming off an outstanding scrimmage, and junior Austin VanGorden making their first starts backed by Rishe, Denner, Rickett, James Gibson and Smithers.
The secondary features one returning starter in Cody Rolfe but a host of fine athletes. Rolfe moves from cornerback to safety to join Nick Sweeney and Pope and Layng will open at the corners.
Backing them will be Rogers, Dalton, Prudhomme, Cody Bidwell and Jordan Pribble.