Academy pg 1 8-29-19

caption, page 9:

Punting Style
Senior Aidan Morin shows his punting style to The Woodstock Academy football coach Sean Saucier. Photo by Marc Allard

Even a veteran coach like Sean Saucier was taken a little aback.
At the first conditioning practice for The Woodstock Academy football team early last week, 74 athletes came out ready to don the blue-and-gold colors of the Centaurs.
“I was surprised,” Saucier said about the turnout. “Two years ago, we hit 50 and I was pretty happy with that. Last year, we climbed to 60 and now, all of a sudden, to have 74 kids who want to play football is pretty exciting. A lot of football programs in other areas, certainly in New England, are going the other way. For the sport of football, it’s a darn good thing.”
Saucier took over the program three years ago when he opted to stay in the area and work for Woodstock Academy rather than go with his former employer, the Hyde School, to Maine.
Saucier was also named athletic director at The Academy last school year.
As far as the athletes, football experience is kind of a 50-50 proposition.
Half have played a lot; some haven’t played much at all.
“We certainly have our share of newcomers which is great. They stuck it through camp and showed up every day. They seem to be having a good time. There are also a good number of kids who came through the (Woodstock-Pomfret-Thompson-Putnam) and (Killingly-Brooklyn) youth football leagues. That’s good, too,” Saucier said.
Grinding through the first week of camp isn’t always easy.
“The first week of football is always the week that determines who is sticking around and who is going home,” said senior Nick Bedard.
The Centaurs, like most other programs in northeastern Connecticut, had to roll with the punches that the weather delivered.
Thunderstorms, some pretty intense, rumbled through the area last Monday and Wednesday which disrupted practice.
Even more bothersome was the heat and humidity.
It was palpable over the course of the first four days of camp.
“We got into it (last Monday) and it was easy because it was raining. (Tuesday), we had the hot sun beating down on all of us. That’s good for us because one of our first games a couple of years ago was like 90 degrees and everybody was dying on the field. This year, conditioning is going to be excellent. We have a bunch of new coaches and they’re going to help us prepare for the season,” Bedard said,
Football teams who did not hold a spring practice were allowed to begin conditioning last Monday. All but two of the Eastern Connecticut Conference teams opted to take that approach.
Conditioning does have some rules that go along with it.
Teams are not allowed to use footballs in the first hour of practice and there are no pads worn and no contact drills.
“You’re limited with what you can do,” Saucier said. “It’s really a conditioning, team-building and teaching week. It’s a great opportunity to start implementing and installing offense and defense and see who can do what. Who can punt, who can kick, who can snap. All those types of things.”
The Centaurs did have one advantage over some local schools.
Strength and conditioning coach Brenden Ostaszewski had the football team in the weight room over the summer, working out Monday through Thursday.
“Everybody was getting big in the weight room with Coach O and Coach (Jeff) Higgins helping us and really preparing us for the season,” Bedard said.
That bulking up may pay dividends down the road for the Centaurs whom, Bedard admits, are smaller than the past two years but quicker as well.
“Our skill positions are probably the strength so what will make us or break us is how our line develops. We have a plan for that offensively. There are different ways to move people, not always north-to-south, you can move people laterally. It’s a young, relatively inexperienced line, and as soon as we can develop them and have them gain confidence, it will help,” Saucier said.
Saucier will be leaning on two new coaches to accomplish that.
Connor Elliott will be the offensive coordinator for the Centaurs.
The East Lyme native played some college football and then, following a career-ending injury, came back to his alma mater and coached the Vikings last year.
“He’s very up-to-date on the spread offense and kept a lot of things similar while adding a few new wrinkles which are pretty cool,” Saucier said.
Jesse Bousquet, who worked with the UConn football program in different capacities, will be the defensive coordinator for the Centaurs.
Saucier will also be relying on some key seniors this year including Bedard, Travis White, Luis Miranda, Ian Welz and Gavin Lanning, all of whom have been on the varsity squad since Saucier began with the program.
“I’m excited for this year,” Bedard said. “I’m going to go out and leave it all on the field because it will probably be my last year playing football. I hope everyone does the same.”
The Centaurs won four games two years ago and had to settle for just one last year.
This year could be even more difficult.
The Centaurs, who played an independent schedule for the last two years, are back in the Eastern Connecticut Conference, playing a Division II league schedule which includes games against Stonington, Bacon Academy, Waterford and their opener against Ledyard as well as non-divisional opponents in Windham and Plainfield.
“I have spoken to the kids about the mental and physical toughness that will be truly required to compete in the ECC with our schedule. That’s the growth that I’m looking for this year - the blue collar, scrappy, work ethic that is required,” Saucier said.
The preseason gets underway this week for the Centaurs.
They have a combined practice with Plainfield this week followed by a scrimmage against North Smithfield, R.I., at 11 a.m. Aug. 31 and then the final tune up at 6 p.m.  Sept. 6, with a game-type scrimmage against Quinebaug Valley at Ellis Tech in Danielson.
“The joint practice with Plainfield is almost a third scrimmage. I feel we have a pretty good build up (to the season),” Saucier said.
The season begins with a 6 p.m. game Sept. 13 at Ledyard.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


RocketTheme Joomla Templates