BEEKMANTOWN — Beekmantown graduated 21 players from its 2018 team that won conference and sectional championships, but it still has plenty to be excited about.
The Eagles will debut a new multiple-purpose turf field with lights this fall, and Beekmantown’s Week 5 meeting against Plattsburgh High could serve as its home opener.
“Our program’s rocking,” said Eagles coach Jamie Lozier, who is in his ninth season at the helm. “The new facility is almost finished, and the kids are excited.”
Beekmantown has 35 athletes listed on its roster, and it’s planning to use depth to its advantage.
“My philosophy is to play as many kids as possible, which is easier said than done,” Lozier said. “We graduated 21, which is a big hit, and we had a lot of concerns, but we’ve had a lot of kids in the weight room all summer. Each year, you kind of see these new kids emerge. We get pretty lucky with some good athletes.”
One emerging name is junior Nate Finley, who is slated to take over the quarterback job.
The Eagles lost Brandon Belrose and Cade Preston to graduation, and the two were responsible for all but one of Beekmantown’s pass attempts last year.
Lozier said Finley has size and is quick on his feet.
“We’re pretty solid in the quarterback spot,” Lozier said. “(Finley) made every single weight session during the offseason, and he’s worked his tail off. He’s great with the ball.”
The Eagles ran the football on 75 percent of plays from scrimmage last year, and Beekmantown could have up to four guys anchoring the ground game.
Seniors Kaden Myers and Garrett Stevens are listed as running backs, while Connor McGinnis and Matt Dion could get reps at fullback.
“We’ve got three specific guys, maybe even four, that could start for any football team in the league,” Lozier said. “That’s what’s really nice with our offense. They’re always rotating, and they’re always fresh. We’re feeling pretty good about our skill positions at this point.”
A staple of the program has been the Eagles’ offensive line.
Lozier said Jonah Phaneuf is a senior center, who can also be used as a fullback, and is a solid leader up front.
Senior Grant Decker and junior Evan Griffith could see time at guard, and Lozier said they’re both quick and learned a lot last year.
“We’re not as big as we’ve been, but we’re a little quicker than we’ve been,” he said. “Coming off of 21 graduating … a lot of those were linemen. What’s nice is with the defensive line and offensive line, I really try to switch it up so that we don’t have linemen going two ways. That really helps during the course of a game.”
Beekmantown surrendered only 122 points in 10 games last year, and it posted three shutouts.
McGinnis and sophomore sibling Braeden will patrol the middle of the field at linebacker, and Carson Lapier is expected to be a key contributor at defensive end.
“(Connor’s) one of the few guys who will be going both ways at first,” Lozier said. “Braeden is the same size as Connor, he’s about 5-9, but he goes 225. He didn’t miss a single weight session, and he didn’t miss a single Jump Camp. He’s young, but he’s flying around with his brother.
“Teams are not gonna be able to run at Carson Lapier. Nobody could run at him last year, and he’s a big reason we made it as far as we did.
“On defense, a lot of new faces, though. I take the experienced guys and put them on offense because it’s so complicated. You’re going to see a lot of brand new faces on defense this year.”
One-half of the section had coaching changes, but the Eagles’ staff remained intact, which could pay dividends.
“The longer you have a coaching staff in place, you adapt and get better, and that comes with experience,” Lozier said. “Our coaches are coaching the same positions, and we didn’t switch anybody. That familiarity can only help.”
Beekmantown will begin its title defense as the designated home team at AuSable Valley.
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