The Warrensburg High School Football Team started out its 2013 season with the following players (front, left to right): Dan Ackley, Mike Baker, Chris Persons, Colt Ovitt, Connor Scott, Trevor Baker, Malachi Prosser, Matt Boodman, (row 2): Josh Porter, Mark Monthony, Owen Douglas, John Lefebvre, Joseph Turner, Mike Baker, Marcus Perrone, Colby Rounds, Alex Barber, Steven Brown, Daniel Monthony (row 3): Brandon Turner, Christopher Martinez, Rogers McLaughlin, Jake Nemec, Joseph Schuster, Brady Rounds, Greg Shambo, Dylan Nicholson, Brandon Schwarz, and (row 4, center): Blake Vaisey. Since this photo was taken in pre-season, personnel changes have occurred.
Adversity is something that the Warrensburg High School football team has endured for years, and this season is definitely no exception.
Missed practices on behalf of a half-dozen football players, several disciplinary-related cuts and a few dropouts leaves the team to play its first 2013 scrimmage with 16 players, the state’s legal minimum, rather than the 30 players who showed up for the first practice a week ago. Add that on top of losing the 2012 standout players like Adam Langworthy, Desmon Allen, Tyler Wilcox and Jerico Converse, and the Burghers have a problem.
Burghers, however are known for overcoming adversity — old-timers recall one season in the mid-1980s when virtually all the starters were suspended, and the junior varsity players became the varsity team.
Two years later, the battle-hardened Warrensburg’s team won the regional Super Bowl. That young Junior Varsity quarterback, who battled against players that must have looked like amazons to him at the time, is now the school’s high school principal, Doug Duell.
Then a decade later, with a new coach at the helm in 2004, the team fought with heart all the way into the state semifinals.
In recent years, the school has endured falling enrollment, but the gritty players have served up some exciting football action.
Last year’s record hovered around .500, but the 2012 season offered thrills for local fans. After a disappointing 0-2 start to their year, they beat Bishop Gibbons 64-18, the widest margin of victory in recent school history. Not long after, they stunned Salem in a gritty comeback win after committing a slew of fumbles — a perplexing ailment that’s plagued the Burghers over the past six years or so.
Coach Mike Leonbruno, however, plans to drill, drill, drill effective ball protection this season, he said.
“We’re going to overcome that lack of discipline, he said. “Our goal for every snap is to have the ball in our hands for the next snap.”
With this week’s roster cuts, the beefy veteran line that might have bulldozed competition is now going to depend on some less experienced players to step up and perform.
The experienced offense however, with Marcus Perrone ready for his third year at quarterback, is back and ready for more action.
Receiver Malachi Prosser, known for eluding defenders, showed his skills Aug. 22 as he stretched his body out and pulled in a pass from Perrone that had landed on his fingertips.
“That’s the way to keep the ball dry,” Coach Leonbruno yelled as Prosser caught the ball. “All right, that’s all we’ve got to do to score touchdowns!”
Other players likely to play key roles include running back Connor Scott and Trevor Baker on the line, Leonbruno said afterwards.
“We’ve got a skeletal team right now, but the guys that are left are dedicated,” he said. “We’re moving forward.”The Burghers' season begins at 1 p.m. Sept. 7 against Renssselaer High School, away.