Photo: Mark Conrad / Mark Conrad
Ludlowe running back Chris Howell (6) will be one of the keys on offense and defense for the Falcons this season as they look to bounce back from a disappointing 4-7 season. After a 3-1 start, Ludlowe dropped six of its last seven games. less
Photo: Mark Conrad / Mark Conrad
Ludlowe running back Chris Howell (6) will be one of the keys on offense and defense for the Falcons this season as they look to bounce back from a disappointing 4-7 season. After a 3-1 start, Ludlowe dropped ... more
For Ludlowe head football coach Vin Camera, the keyword for this season is — finish.
Last season, the Falcons lost in the final minute by three points to Central, lost by two points to Norwalk and then lost by three points in double overtime to Westhill. And they also lost to town-rival Warde after leading 12-0 just five minutes into the game.
And if Ludlowe wants to get back to winning ways (they were 6-5 in 2013) finishing strong must be a key goal.
“We have to learn how to finish. Part of that is depth. Last year, we were asking so much from our starters, playing both ways, slightly undersized. We were asking them to play on heart and desire for four quarters,” Camera said. “We’re hoping that this year we can balance the depth chart a bit better, rely on less two-way guys and hope that spells success. Time will tell. We have to stay healthy. We don’t have a lot of depth.”
What Camera does have are numbers. At a recent practice at Sturges Park, Ludlowe had 75 kids participating. However, 23 of those kids were sophomores.
“I don’t know how deep we are and I don’t know how strong our sophomore class is but our retention of freshmen (to sophomores) and sophomores (to juniors) is the best it’s ever been,” Camera said. “The youth movement is coming.”
Part of that youth movement includes figuring out who will play quarterback, either junior Aidan Kudzy or sophomore Josh Evans.
“That’s what the preseason is for, to see who can do what,” Camera said. “Aidan and Josh, they both played last year, Aidan on JV and Josh at freshman. They’re both getting a good grip on the offense.”
After the graduation of Brian Pacewicz, Camera was looking at Grant Carnemark to take the quarterback role but a non-football concussion - his third, according to Camera - has him sitting out the season.
Ludlowe does have solid building blocks in senior Chris Howell, who shined at running back (540 yards rushing) and cornerback (95 tackles) last season and Mitch Wyckoff, who caught 17 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns last season. In addition, captain Spencer Foley returns to play inside linebacker and running back.
Normally, Camera said that he waits for a month or two before announcing captains but with Foley, he named him the day after the season ended at the team awards banquet.
“I was pretty excited. I’ve been trying hard to lead the team,” Foley said. “We’ve had some ups and downs, so it was good to know that (Camera) felt that I could lead the team, push them and be the face of Ludlowe.”
Senior Markus Schuermann returns to play linebacker, will work on the offensive line and will handle the punting duties.
“In my opinion, he’s probably the best punter in the league,” Camera said.
Camera is also high on Javion Beasley, a transfer from Florida, who will play cornerback and receiver.
And while never having great depth on either the offensive or defensive line, the Falcons, over the past couple of seasons, have gotten bigger and stronger. The key will be keeping everyone healthy.
“Two years ago, the heaviest guy on the line was probably around 215 pounds. Last year we had a couple of guys break that 230, 240 mark and this year we’ve had two guys break 260,” Camera said. “We’re getting a little bigger. We’re buying into the off-season. We’re buying into the weight room. We’ve had some great, great work ethic in the weight room. We averaged 50 to 60 guys a night three days a week all summer long. They were dedicated to coming.”
Added Foley: “We got into the weight room a lot more over the summer. We just kept sticking into everyone’s brain … weight room, weight room, weight room. We were in there almost every day, five days a week. We started in the winter and have been in there the entire summer.”
Because the last thing the Falcons want to do is fall just short in all those close games - again.
“We lost three times by a combined eight points. It was very frustrating,” Foley said. “We play a lot of those teams again and hopefully we can get those wins back. We want to win those close games this season.
“We have to finish everything. We have to finish every practice strong, we have to finish every drill, every conditioning hour, everything needs to be finished 100 percent and I think on Friday night’s, we’ll finish the games strong.”