Woodstock pg 9 9-6-18

 WOODSTOCK – The high school football season begins Sept. 7 for The Woodstock Academy Centaurs.
But it will be quite the ride to see how the team makes out.
The Centaurs, who finished 4-6 last season, begin their quest for their first-ever .500 or better season at 6 p.m. in Greenfield, Mass.
“I really can’t wait,” senior quarterback Derek Thompson said of getting the season underway. “I think we’re going to have a good season this year. I like where we’re headed right now.”
Where they will be headed on Friday is a place many of them have never heard of, much less been to.
Greenfield is about an hour and a half away on the western side of Massachusetts.
The Green Wave finished with a 7-3 record last season.
The two teams have little knowledge of one another, but did exchange film last weekend.
“You study the film, identify the strengths and weaknesses, and come up with a plan to address those,” said Woodstock Academy second-year coach Sean Saucier. “We don’t have a history. I don’t know the coach. I don’t know what they have run and how good or bad they have been the last 10 years- I don’t really care.”
It’s the here-and-now that matters..
The Centaurs do have some work to do.
They lost their top offensive threat, Kameron Janice, to graduation last year.
His stabilizing influence will be missed.
Janice could be counted on to deliver that crucial first down and was a big-play threat every time he touched the football.
That crutch will be missing this season.
“It’s been an interesting process, but you can’t replace the individual that Kameron was. He was an outstanding player, had a great attitude, a hard worker. But, when you don’t have one overwhelming, strong player, it changes the dynamic. People feel free to step up or have the opportunity to step up,” Saucier said.
It will be more of a by-committee approach at running back this season.
Jaden Dennett, Janice’s understudy last year, returns as a junior. He finished with 132 yards rushing and three touchdowns last season. Also back is junior Ian Welz who saw varsity time last season.
Saucier has also been pleased with a transfer from Killingly High School, sophomore Gavin Savoie.
“I call him ‘Little Danny Woodhead,’” Saucier said with a smile. “He’s going to be special in the future, but he will get reps this year.”
The Centaurs also have Thompson back.
Thompson completed 69 of his 161 passes last year for 902 yards and six touchdowns.
The quarterback is one who may actually benefit from the graduation of Janice.
“I think it was kind of hard to find a rhythm last year because I was only passing seven to 10 times a game. It will be nice to be better balanced this year,” Thompson said.
One number Thompson would like to improve upon is his 10 interceptions.
“I think I had a couple multi-interception games; Montville was a four-interception, tough game. I really have to improve my decision-making. It can be a game-changer. Turnovers can completely sway a game,” he said.
His realization of that is part of the maturity that has begun to creep into Thompson’s game.
“He has come into the season with an outstanding attitude, work ethic and leadership. We came into camp saying it would be a competition and he accepted that. He has stepped up and has done everything in his power to stay at quarterback,” Saucier said.
Nick Bedard will be Thompson’s back up, but the two have two different and distinct skill sets and Bedard will see some reps behind center this fall.
Bedard will also see action at receiver alongside Luis Miranda (14 catches, 220 yards, 2 touchdowns last season). The junior sprained his ankle in the first five minutes of the first practice this season and was finally back on the field in pads last week.
Caleb Feen (22 catches, 302 yards, 1 touchdown) also returns as does Dan Suitam (4 catches, 48 yards).
“We have a very athletic receiving corps, we just need to get healthy. Luis has been injured for most of the practices, but I’m excited about who we have,” Thompson said.
The strength of the team is up front.
“It’s gelling and they’re very intelligent boys so it makes coaching them fun because they pick up on concepts, whether it’s pass protection or the run game, they pick it up quickly,” Saucier said.
Saucier expects senior Blake Kollbeck to be dominant on both sides of the line, he will play right tackle offensively. Fellow senior Patrick Barrows, who skipped playing last year, returns and will play left tackle. Senior Nate Price is back and will play either guard or center, juniors Gavin Lanning and J.J. Bain are also likely starters with Jack Hovestadt available once he returns from an ACL injury suffered last season.
Travis White, a junior, anchors the defense at middle linebacker. Welz, Bain and sophomore Hunter Anderson will flank him.
Miranda (3 interceptions) is a key in the defensive secondary at safety with Feen (2 interceptions) and Suitam at the corners. Bedard will also see time in the defensive backfield.
Joining Kollbeck up front at tackle will be Barrows, Dan Ntamwemizi and sophomore C.J. Burrows with Dennett and Price at the ends.
“We’re playing to take the program forward a step,” Saucier said. “The program has never had a .500 or better record. If we can surpass that, which I truly believe we can, get to 5-5 or better which I expect to, I feel that would be a legacy that the seniors would leave with the school and help us as a program. If we can get to the good side of .500, I think it would be something for the program to hang its hat on.”
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director


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