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August 18, 2009

 

Spirited start to CHS drills

CHSJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland High defensive coordinator Tom Murphy works on defensive footwork with players Monday on the first day of practice.

By TANEY BEAUMONT
Staff Writer

Monday’s brutally hot weather conditions did little to stifle the enthusiasm of the Cortland High football team on its first day of practice for the 2009 season.
With the sounds of spirited players and the coaches overseeing their activities almost drowning him out at times, Purple Tigers head coach Dave Darrow noted: “We started the day with six tests: long jump, vertical jump and bench press inside, and 40-yard dash, pro shuttle (involving cones 10 yards apart) and 300-yard shuttle relay, which we call Tiger Pride, in which players run 25 yards one way, then back, six times until the distance is covered. The tests took two hours, then we had two hours of practice involving offense, defense, special teams and punting.
“We have around 60 kids who will be split evenly, maybe like 35-25, between varsity and JV. We have four or five starters back on both offense and defense, and a lot of sophomores, but they’re really good. The guys we have back are pretty decent, too. I think we’ll be OK.”
Seniors Caleb Wright and Camerin Edgar have already been named captains for this season.
Darrow noted that, beginning right after the school year ended in June, an average of 35 players a day came in to lift weights. The Purple Tigers were also in two 16-team passing tournaments — in Elmira and Utica — and made it into the semifinals of each.
“We look a little thin in some places. We’ll have to stay healthy,” he said. “We’ll probably change how we practice some early this week. We’ll see what shakes out. After a few days of practice we’ll know a lot more.”
The players are mandated by the state to wear t-shirts, shorts and helmets for the first three days of practice.Pads can first be worn on Thursday, and the Purple and White intra-squad scrimmage will take place on Saturday.
Practice with pads will continue next week as a lead-up to Cortland’s scrimmage with visiting Camden at 10 a.m. on Aug. 29.
“We’ll go from 3 to 7 p.m. each day for the first two weeks (this week and next)” Darrow said. “We’ll do lifting and chalk work for an hour, then either practice for three hours or split it into two sessions.”
The CHS season starts with a non-leaguer at rival Homer Sept. 4, and the Class A American slate begins with a home game against defending champion East Syracuse-Minoa on Sept. 11, both games starting at 7 p.m. Fowler, Fulton, Jamesville-DeWitt, Mexico and newcomer Nottingham are CHS’s other league opponents.
The Purple Tigers’ 2008 season ended in two straight losses, to Whitesboro in a playoff game and Marcellus in a crossover, after a 6-1 start. “The guys who are back have worked hard,” Darrow said. “I think they want to redeem themselves.”
Monday’s brutal heat brought one change to the practice routine, according to Darrow.
“It was tough,” he said. “We had water available the whole time, with water bottles for the players in the actual drills, which we haven’t done, as well as the water horse (a tube between two poles with 12 stations for players to drink from).”
Darrow will be assisted again this season by defensive coordinator Tom Murphy, special teams coach Pete Reif, offensive coordinator Pat Cavallario and a new addition, Matt Hornick, who will coach the defensive line.
Eric Prior is once again the head JV coach, assisted by Paul Thomas (defense) and Matt Martins (offensive line). Zach Darrow, Dave’s son, is the head modified coach, assisted by Joe DiSanto, Joe Nicholas, Jim Kendall and Brandon Galutz.