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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 28, 2008

Voorheesville determined to keep a winning record

By Jordan J. Michael

VOORHEESVILLE –– The Blackbirds have fielded a winning football team for the past eight seasons and show no signs of letting up.

“Voorheesville football comes with tradition,” said junior Dan Whiteley. “We are looked upon as winners and winners only.”

Coach Joe Sapienza has seen more experienced teams during his 15 years on the sideline, but never doubts his players. “I have 29 kids on the team this year,” he said. “Only four of them are returning starters –– One on defense and three on offense. I have to mold their skills to get them game ready.”

The team is coming back with new players, after a 6-3 season last fall. It bid farewell to great athletes like quarterback Jay Conde, running back Adam Duncan, offensive lineman Sean Fitzmaurice, and running back Pat Jones.

“There is no margin for error. This team is really fresh and things are a lot more complex,” Sapienza said.

Sapienza wants to build his offense around two returning juniors on the offensive line: Chad Hoffart and C.J. Bouvier. “Those two guys have my trust. I need them to protect my new quarterback,” he said.

The new leader of the offense is sophomore Ryan Duncan, younger brother of recent graduate Adam Duncan. “He’s a young guy for sure,” said Sapienza. “Although he was on the team last year and that’s when we started prepping him. He has a different style of play, but takes charge like Conde did.”

Whiteley, senior Mike Snyder, and senior Dimitri Soloviev are first time co-captains and play on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. “We love seeing the game from both sides,” said Snyder. “It can get tiring, but the more football, the better.”

A big family

“We want our community to get really excited about the season,” said Soloviev. “We have to represent ourselves right because it seems like the whole community comes out to watch us at home.”

“The school had to install more bleachers last year because so many people came to watch,” Snyder said. “You feel like you’re on the top of the world playing here. It’s a huge spotlight.”

Whiteley says that the players and coaches are a tight group and it really shows in the pre-season weeks. “This team is a big family. The coaches are the dads and the captains are the big brothers,” he said. “Every coach played football here.”

The Blackbirds are relying on the underclassmen this year, with only eight seniors on the roster. “Graduation hits hard almost every year,” said Sapienza. “I’m very optimistic though; you have to be. These players have strong wills.”

The current team spent the off-season going to skill sessions and team camps. Sapienza was delighted with the near 100 percent attendance at those various activities.

“My kids are thinking in the right mind. They say that they’re the best team in Class C. They do hard work and believe in winning,” Sapienza said.

Voorheesville opens the season on Saturday, Sept. 6, on its home field against Tamarac. It travels to Watervliet a week later.

Those two games are followed by –– in order –– home against Fonda; away to Chatham; away to Catholic Central; home against Coxsackie; and away to Hoosick Valley.

“Our biggest enemy is the schedule,” said Sapienza. “Fonda is a new opponent this year, which makes things interesting. If we can win our first four games then we might be able to breathe a little easier.”

“This is a young team, but does age really matter?” asked Snyder. “It’s all about desire and I see it every day we practice. Everything will fall into place.”

“Coach reminds us each day of the high standards this program has. You get so much more into the game when you see the history. We have to keep the fire burning,” said Whiteley.

“You always receive low expectations when a whole collection of starters leave,” said Soloviev. “We like people choosing us to lose because it gives us more motivation to win. Ask anyone on the team and they’ll tell you that we are the best.”

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