2013 Sauquoit Valley Indians hit the field!
By Peter Pagliaro-MHTS-Photos-Kevin Montano-MHTS
Prepared to Win, Plan to Win, Expect to Win. These are the words that the Sauquoit Valley Indians football team is set to live by as they begin their journey through the 2013 high school football season and are reminded of the message as the words are printed on their tee-shirts.
After the first winning season in over eight years at Sauquoit, in 2012, coupled with a monumental win over the Class D East football powerhouse Dolgeville Blue Devils, the Sauquoit Valley Indians football program is beginning to take shape as a program on the rise and one to be reckoned with.
In just his second season in Sauquoit, Coach Rocky Corigliano and his staff led the Indians to a 5-3 (4-1) record and more importantly have given the program life and made believers of the boys that don the red helmets.
It was tough to tell who was more excited, the players or coaches, on Monday night in Sauquoit, when the My Hometown Sports caravan rolled into town to take in day one of training camp and the start of football season.
Coach Rocky Corigliano, at one point, shouted to his players, “It’s Football Season baby!”
Corigliano and his staff have been eager to get back on the field and get to work, as he calls it.
Opening day of camp is a day when the coaches eagerly get back to honing their craft, teaching a game they have grown to love.
This close knit group of coaches come from a coaching tree with deep roots and family ties.
You see, Corigliano’s staff consists of his father Jerry, who has been coaching football for over 40 years, including a great run at Westmoreland and is joined by Pat Passalacqua Sr. who was also a member of that Bulldog staff.
The family ties do not end there, as Pat Passalacqua Jr. has followed his father in the coaching ranks and calls the defense for the Indians.
The junior Corigliano joked about how he and Coach Little P were both ball boys and/or score keepers for their fathers and now they are leading the team as their dads assist them.
The elder Corigliano also reminisced and mentioned how proud he was of both boys who are now at the helm of the Sauquoit program and he also talked about what keeps him going 40-years strong, saying, “I love the game, love the young men I coach, love the challenge and competition…Sauquoit is also a good school district with a community and administration that supports us and has a good, nice group of kids.”
The Indians open camp with high expectations after kicking off the Corigliano regime with a successful campaign, finishing 4-1 in league play and 5-3 overall, but were able to do so with a team loaded with seniors.
This year the Indians will have several voids to fill after graduating over 20 upperclassmen, leaving several key positions, such as quarterback, tailback, linebacker and spots on both sides of the line up for grabs.
Despite the mass exodus of leaders, Coach Corigliano is encouraged with the current Indians makeup led by 24 sophomores and a mix of juniors and seniors that make up the 38 players he currently has in camp, saying, “These are solid numbers for a Class D school.”
The Indians players got a full day of football activities in as the day started with classroom instruction referred to by the coaching staff as “chalk talk” which involved going over practice plans, play scripts and other football jargon.
Once the players took the field, the coaches eased them into workouts by focusing heavily on stretching and conditioning.
During the stretching sessions, upperclassmen leadership was already evident, as players spoke of working hard and being prepared.
The coaching staff closely watched the player’s technique, stressing the importance of properly stretching as it would be the key to staying on the field.
Following a tough stretching regiment, the players were introduced to a number of different stations which focused on agility and conditioning.
A jovial and joking Coach Pat Passalacqua Sr. welcomed his “darlings” to his station where the players went through an assortment of conditioning drills typical of all football camps, including sprints, shuffles, up/downs and the famous football crabs that involve players crawling on all fours.
After taking in several water breaks, along with some instruction, the players were separated to take part in specific stations to work on techniques such as blocking, footwork drills, as well as quarterback drops and handoffs.
The groups eventually convened and got their first look at the offense, as the coaching staff slowly began installing plays into the Sauquoit Valley arsenal.
Coach Rocky Corigliano feels this year’s team, although young, has a lot of depth at the skilled positions and sees an abundance of overall team speed.
While it’s still early, Corigliano hopes to take advantage of the speed and open things up with a very different style off offense this season.
“We lost our tailbacks from last year in Alec Voce and Conner O’Neil who were more north-south runners. This year’s backs have more speed and may have the ability to break away and give us some big gains.”
Corigliano also added that, “The quarterback spot is up for grabs with the graduation of Rob Slivinski, but it appears that the early favorite for that position may go to junior Kory Lewandrowski who has been waiting in the wings.”
“On the defensive front, we also lost a big leader and a man in the middle with the graduation of linebacker Matt Wheelock, so we are certainly looking for someone to emerge and fill in the leadership role and line backing corp.” said Corigliano.
Defensive Coordinator Pat Passalacqua Jr. agrees that the defense has holes to fill but is encouraged, “We are young for sure, so we are taking it slow, installing some of the basic stuff first and then we hope to open it up and build it up as the kids begin to understand and get familiar with our defensive scheme and packages – we have a few guys back there who we are confident will step into the roles.”
The elder Passalacqua is also encouraged in what he has seen thus far, “The kids have come in with a lot of enthusiasm, a willingness to learn, athletic ability, a good spirit, respect and teamwork – that is certainly a great start.”
Passalacqua Sr. is confident that with the young squad – they will be able to tinker with a variety of defensive schemes and packages that will give them some options to hopefully keep offenses off guard.
Corigliano feels that a good mix of returnees and newcomers exist in his group of current senior, juniors and sophomores.
Some of the key returners on this years team include senior Ethan Harris who was a defensive end last year and who will see both sides of the ball this year at possibly tight-end and defensive-end.
Another senior, Tristan Sheppard plays both center and defensive-end, while senior Tristan Landphere will see time both at offensive and defensive tackle.
My Hometown Sports caught up with several of the senior/junior leaders to get their thoughts on the season and the start of camp.
Senior Ethan Harris was glad to be back in camp after putting in time during the off-season with teammates. “It’s feels good to finally get into camp…a lot of us have been putting in time all summer – three times a week – preparing and getting ready for this day. It feels good to get out here.”
Harris added that, “Our goal in camp is to get ready for the start of the season…it’s exciting to put in a new offense and we are looking forward to continuing what we did last year in beating Dolgeville and having Mount Markham at home this year for our home opener.”
Junior quarterback Kory Lewandrowski is also excited to get things started saying, “I know I have big shoes to fill at the quarterback position but I am up to the challenge…I have been working all summer and am ready to step in a leadership role.”
The junior signal caller also spoke about losing so many senior from last years team, “We have a young group so our seniors and juniors will need to step into leadership roles and who knows maybe even some of our sophomores…we will step up, work hard and show a lot of heart – we have no quitters here.”
Senior defensive-end Tristan Sheppard also took part in off-season workouts and feels that the opening of camp is a “Good feeling”. “We have a young team here this year but we are all learning and we have great coaches here who know how to put together a winning program…if we do what we are taught and do what we are suppose to do – we will win games – we have what we need – we need to execute.”
Sheppard also spoke highly of coach Rocky Corigliano after having played for him in Waterville adding, “He is a great guy and a great coach – he was able to put a winner on the field here after just one season after eight losing seasons – that’s impressive.”
Tristan Landphere, also a senior offensive and defensive tackle is also encouraged with what he has seen after day one. “We are no doubt a young group but we are talented too…we may not have that one person who stands out but together we have a solid unit…with the departure of all our seniors it opens up the competition – everyone needs to work harder. Ever since Coach C took over it’s been all about teamwork and about family – this year is no different.”
As the first day of practice came to a close – the team finished strong with a series of sprints that were set to represent each quarter – as the sprints reached the fourth quarter – players began to encourage one another to finish strong yelling out, “Fourth quarter is when games are won.”
After one day of practice – these kids left the field as a team and by the start of the season – they will be ready – they will be a force to be reckoned with – FEAR RED is alive and well in Sauquoit.
The Indians open their season against Mount Markham at home on September 6th!
MHTS/ESPN U/R visits Sauquoit on September 27th as Dolgeville visits! See you there.