September 7, 2013

AuSable builds momentum for new season


— Dillon Savage’s role on the AuSable Valley football team is clear.

“We’re going to put the weight of the team squarely on his shoulders,” coach Heith Ford said. “He’s ready for it, and he wants it.”

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The powerful running back has returned to lead the Patriots’ offense, and with a stronger offensive line and a mobile quarterback, the team is optimistic about the 2013 Champlain Valley Athletic Conference season. The Patriots start things off today at Saranac.

AuSable Valley sputtered to a 0-9 record last season, and Ford said that had an effect on the returning players.

“What it did is, it drove them all to the weight room this winter,” he said. “All the preaching we did last year about being weak, not being able to move the ball because we were weak on the line of scrimmage, had all the boys in the weight room this winter. We gained a lot of strength.”

The 2012 Patriots averaged just 11 points per game, and having a more productive offense will start with an improved offensive line. Ford said 6-foot-3, 230-pound Kyle Coolidge will anchor a line that’s made up mostly of seniors who gained experience last year.

They’ll spend much of their time trying to open holes for Savage, who ran for 615 yards and six touchdowns on 125 carries last year. He was injured in Week 8 but is healthy going into his senior year.

“He works so hard in practice and during the offseason. He’s the first one in the weight room,” Ford said. “He’s got the heart of a lion. There’s no quit, simple as that. That no-quit attitude is what drives him to work so hard.”

Brad Pray, a sophomore, and junior Jamie Coolidge are also listed at running back for the Patriots.

After playing soccer last fall, John Goodnough has returned to the gridiron and will start at quarterback. Ford said Goodnough, who’s 6 feet, 2 inches and 165 pounds, is speedy and has been a team leader already.

Sultan Sikandar and Gavin Friedrich, both juniors, are AuSable Valley’s only returning receivers. Tyler Champine and Lucas Perez will also see time at wideout.

The Patriots expect opposing defenses to give a lot of attention to Savage, but Ford insisted the standout running back is not their only threat.

“We’ve got more in our pocket than just Dillon, but he probably can power through a lot of situations that other kids can’t,” Ford said. “But we’re not one-dimensional.”

Savage is also expected to be a key defensive player at linebacker, and Matt Nasner is another linebacker who should have an impact. The Patriots have fewer veteran players on defense than on offense.

Ford said that many of the players on the roster came through the Police Athletic League Football program, so they’ve played together before.

“They’ve had each other around, and there’s definitely a difference in chemistry,” Ford said.”

Email Courtney

AuSable Valley

Coach: Heith Ford

No. Name Position Ht Wt Class1 Jacob Ashline WR/DB 5-6 130 11

4 Jamie Coolidge RB/LB 5-8 142 11

5 Zach Crowningshield WR/LB 5-7 136 12

7 John Goodnough QB/DL 6-2 165 12

8 Sultan Sikandar WR/DB 5-10 152 11

10 William Coats QB/DB 5-9 155 9

11 Gavin Friedrich WR/DB 6-1 156 11

14 Connor Kennedy WR/LB 6-1 170 12

22 Tyler Champine WR/DB 5-11 154 11

23 Cody Furnia WR/LB 5-8 140 11

24 Tyler Mary WR/DB 5-9 160 11

30 Brad Pray RB/LB 5-6 180 10

32 Lucas Perez WR/DB 5-8 135 10

44 Dillon Savage RB/LB 5-10 205 12

50 Matt Nasner OL/LB 5-10 190 12

52 Kyle Coolidge OL/DL 6-3 230 12

54 Reilly Peck OL/LB 6-0 214 12

55 Nick Davis OL/DL 6-1 173 12

56 Cody Lawrence OL/DL 6-6 229 12

60 Micheal Bussiere OL/DL 5-9 188 11

64 Mike Bombard OL/DL 5-6 225 12

65 Brandon Nolan OL/DL 5-11 228 12

66 Keith Christianson OL /LB 5-8 179 11

71 Kevin Strack OL/DL 5-9 225 11

73 Ricky Nichols OL/DL 6-0 187 11

76 Kenny Rivers OL/DL 6-0 268 11

79 Dustin Drake OL/DL 6-1 240 11

88 Chasm Perkett WR/DB 5-9 130 11