TICONDEROGA — Ticonderoga wants to get back to its winning ways.
The Sentinels have a new coach motivated to make that happen.
Bob Porter will be leading the way for Ticonderoga this season, taking over for Scott Nephew who had coached the Sentinels for the past five years.
“This is an amazing opportunity,” Porter said. “I hit the ground running once I got the position. We started doing workouts and getting in the weight room. We had great turnouts for the summer, and we are thrilled with the amount of work the players are putting in.”
Porter played at the varsity level in 1985 and 1986 for Ticonderoga and coached modified and JV for a combination of four years in the late 90s.
Heath Geiser (offensive coordinator) and Todd Carr Sr. (defensive coordinator) will be Porter’s two main assistants.
“Heath and Todd are both very knowledgeable,” Porter said. “They are going to be a huge part of our success. They are both dedicated to the success of this program, and I am happy to have them coaching with me.”
The Sentinels lost 20 players to graduation from their 2018 squad that finished 2-7.
Ticonderoga has just seven returners and 19 newcomers for the 2019 campaign, making inexperience a concern but not a factor that Porter believed would deeply impact the Sentinels.
“We have some very good athletes, and even though they are young, sometimes it’s just about trying to get them to play beyond their years,” Porter said.
“I am very excited for the year to get underway and see what these kids can do. They seem to have responded to me and what I think we need to do to be successful.”
While Ticonderoga has plenty of fresh faces, it does have Terrence Benedict back at quarterback, coming off a season where he threw for nearly 1,200 yards and tossed 14 touchdowns.
Benedict did have 12 interceptions last season, which has been one of the main concentration points of the Sentinels’ coaching staff.
“I am glad he is in the driver’s seat,” Porter said. “He has worked really hard this summer. We have worked a lot on his throwing to make him the best quarterback he can be.
“You might end up seeing a better football team because of the improvements Terrence has made. He has all the physical attributes you want in a quarterback.”
Aidan Porter and Owen Stonitsch will be two of Ticonderoga’s top contributors in the backfield.
Dillon Schlogl, Monty Benedict, Conall Tierney and Connor Yaw are expected to power the Sentinels’ receiving core and showcase some quality speed.
Porter said Ticonderoga’s offensive and defensive lines could surprise some people, citing how his linemen have tremendous work ethic and plenty of size to go up against opponents.
“I am really confident in our group,” Porter said. “You can see that the time the kids have put in has allowed them to set themselves up to believe. I am seeing that on the practice field and the effort they are putting forth.”
Porter said Hunter Jordon will help pace the team’s linebackers, and Benedict, Tierney and Schlogl should be driving forces in the secondary.
“It’s a young team, so the challenge is getting them up to speed and not making those JV mistakes,” Porter said. “We have to limit our mistakes as a whole and be a smart team to be successful.
“I am thrilled with the response we have had from the kids. It’s just a total team concept. There are no individuals, which is nice. They push each other and work together.”
Prior to a season ago, the Sentinels had captured each of the last two Champlain Valley Athletic Conference titles and won the Section VII Class D championship in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Ticonderoga’s winning tradition serves as Porter’s top motivation.
“Last year was a fluke year,” Porter said. “Hopefully, we are going to get right back in a rhythm and get back to being successful.
“We want to turn this thing right around now. This is not a rebuilding year. I don’t see it that way. We are turning this around right away.”
The Sentinels open their season at home at 7:30 p.m. today against Peru.
As Porter embarks on his first season as the varsity head coach, he is ready to establish a team that can succeed now and in the future.
“I am a Ticonderoga guy. I teach here, I grew up here and I played here,” Porter said.
“I am getting good response from the kids, the parents and the community. I hope we can really pack the stands with people this year and make sure we have a skilled and respectful Ticonderoga team people can cheer for.”
Email Joey LaFranca: