CAIRO — The new Catskill/Cairo-Durham football team will kick off its season today at noon with a Class C South Division game against Greene County rival Coxsackie-Athens at Angelo Canna Town Park.
Former assistant coach Dan Hatch takes over a program that has lost 29 games in a row, but has felt a sense of renewed optimism in preseason practice.
“We’re definitely ready,” Hatch said. “I think we’re light years ahead of where we were the past two years with the coaching staff that we have, knowledge that we have and the kids that we have. You teach them and you just hope everything is retained and that they do their job. The execution of what we’ve been teaching them is going to be paramount this week against Coxsackie.”
Hatch has 26 players on the roster, with 17 from Cairo-Durham and nine from Catskill.
“We have a well-rounded team. I don’t see one particular person standing out over the top of anyone else,” he said. “We do have some good athletes that can impact a game, thank goodness it’s more than one or two, it’s six or eight of them, which makes a huge difference.”
Senior returnee Jake Hall will be the starting quarterback and is more than capable of running Hatch’s offense.
“Jake Hall played for us last year. He is an athlete, he is a playmaker and he is a teammate, first and foremost,” Hatch said.
Jordan Gooch begins his fourth year on the varsity and is the team’s tailback, with Logan Denniston from Catskill the team’s fullback.
“Logan never played football before. We did a 7 on 7 camp at Ravena and it was the first time I had ever seen this young man, not knowing he hadn’t played before, and he bubbles out of the backfield. We pass it to him and he hits the corner and was gone before anybody could touch him. He’s also a hell of a linebacker for someone who’s never played the game before. We have him at middle linebacker and he gets the game, which is great.”
Hall will have solid targets to throw to in Jesse Davies, Josh Millken and Eric Ostoyic.
Hatch said the line will be solid with Nick Petull anchoring it at center. He’ll be joined up front by Ashton DiDomenico, Nick Lipari, Ryan Mattice and Alex Loucks. Depth will be no problem, Hatch pointed out.
Speed is the team’s strength on defense, especially in the secondary and at linebacker.
“I don’t think anybody has a faster secondary and linebacker squad than we do,” he said.
Hatch knows turning around a program that hasn’t won a game since 2014 won’t happen overnight, but definitely thinks the Mustangs are on the right path.
“I’m cautiously optimistic. I’ve been here before but I haven’t been here with the coaching staff we have. Nick Fitzgerald, who helped build the Watervliet program, Dave Wagner coached at Taconic Hills and Ichabod Crane. We still have Mike Murphy and Rick Keifer and we brought on Thomas Flanagan, who runs a sports gym here in Cairo, who is our trainer and conditioner. Everybody knows their part.
Hatch is shooting for at least a .500 season, but is hoping above all to show improvement in every game.
“We will see where we’re at on Saturday. I’m sure there will be butterflies with it, but as long as the boys do their specific jobs, and don’t try to be everything to everybody, I think we’ll do well. The boys understand the expectations are a lot larger this year.”The 2018 Catskill/Cairo-Durham roster:
Seniors: Jordan Gooch, Ryan Mattice, Nick Petulla, Alex Loucks, Jake Hall, Hunter Zindell, Greg Montesano, Josh Milliken and Troy Minott from Cairo-Durham; Ricky Ryan, Dominic Rivenburg and Maya Mann from Catskill.
Juniors: Ashton DiDomenico, Nick Lipari, Azzan Tarik and Shane Mooney from Cairo-Durham; Logan Denniston and Jesse Davies from Catskill.
Sophomores: Eric Ostoyic, Nathan Montesano and James Limerick from Cairo-Durham; Gavin Ingrassia, Luc Cooper, Jonathan Kent and Cameron Lyles from Catskill.