Football team attempts to tackle inexperience

By Daniel Kats
Published: September 2010

With only five starters returning from last year’s squad, the Varsity Football team is trying grow and develop on the fly during the 2010 campaign.
“The team we have is a really young team, senior and captain Jeffery Alkins said. “Plenty of the kids have never played Varsity Football or a certain position before.
“I do believe all the kids are handling the new requirements and responsibilities asked of them well. I think everyone is doing their best for the advancement of the team, and I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.
So far this season, the team’s youth and inexperience has become its biggest flaw. Offensive turnovers, in particular, have been a caveat, providing South’s opponent with confidence, momentum, and the possession of the ball.
In an effort to remedy and work through this problem, Head Coach Ted Dalicandro said that practice is focused on “sudden-change situations and ball handling.
The offensive line, with only one returning player from last year’s squad, is another element of the Football team that is continuing to develop. Senior Brandon Caldwell anchors and mentors those battling on the offensive side of the trenches, helping his fellow linemen transition to the fast pace of the Varsity game.
“[Caldwell] has done a great job of helping kids learn their roles and perfect their technique, Alkins said. “He’s an asset to the team and the line. I think the other kids feel really comfortable asking him questions and he has the experience and knowledge to answer them correctly.
Furthermore, some players have had to transition to completely new positions in on account of the team’s youth. Junior Reed May, for example, has made the unconventional switch from quarterback to cornerback. Senior and captain Jerrett Atkinson has been playing safety as opposed to his usual post at outside linebacker, and senior Grant Henderson has moved in from cornerback to linebacker. Sophomore Dan Flemming has started seeing some time on the offensive line, in addition to his usual work on the defensive line.
Another factor to consider in regards to the Football team’s drive for success is the health of Klumpp’s throwing shoulder. Klumpp broke his collarbone while playing lacrosse in the spring, and had the pin removed from his shoulder just weeks prior to opening day.
Klumpp is believed to be at full strength by his coach and fellow players, despite the short recovery time. Klumpp endured several hard hits during the opening game against Arlington on September 11 without leaving the game due to injury to that shoulder, cementing his end to the recovery.
“I’m not sure if [Klumpp] is fully recovered, Alkins said about his quarterback. “I do know regardless of how his body may feel, he will always go out there and give his all.
Despite the injury, Klumpp has been able to develop enough timing and chemistry with his receivers to perform effectively, according to Caldwell and classmate and captain Ty McGarry.
“I think [Klumpp is] an amazing quarterback. I’m not sure how much time he has had to develop chemistry with his receivers, Alkins said, “But part of being a good [quaterback] is knowing your receivers, how fast they run, what kind of passes they usually catch or catch well, and I think  he just does a great job of doing that, placing the ball in the perfect spot frequently.
There are some bright spots for the Lions, as the program contains raw talent ready to be cultivated. Junior Mike Forman recorded South’s lone score, a 40-yard touchdown run, in a game on September 16. Forman is putting up impressive numbers with 125 rushing yards and 40 receiving yards in the first two games.
Sophomore Dan Flemming is also having a good year for the Lions. In his second year of Varsity football, Flemming is drawing praise from his coach, who called him “one of the best lineman in the league [who is] difficult to block and has to be double-teamed.
Many of the players of the team believe that chemistry is the team’s biggest strength. Last season, most people predicted a very good season for the Lions, but due to a lack of chemistry, the team ended up with a record of 3-8. “In the past years we’ve been on a team, but we weren’t exactly one team, Alkins said of the program’s past.
In addition to the team chemistry, Alkins sees more of the team’s strengths. “Well firstly I think the one thing we have going for us is our speed. We have linemen who are faster than some of the backs in the [Dual County League], he said.  “Plus our backs are a great combination of power and speed, forming a dynamic threat.
“Yes, players are going to be tired; yes, some players haven’t had to play Varsity Football before, but I see it as a time to rebuild.
The senior and captain sees the 2010 season as a chance to take the inexperienced team to a new, extremely competitive level.
“We now have the opportunity to mold the [South] Football team into the team every young football team dreams of being on, he said. “Not necessarily the team that wins every game, but rather the team that is going to play hard all game, every game and remain a team regardless of the score at the end of the day. None of the problems we have now are too big to be fixed, which is a comforting feeling.

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