CRARYVILLE — After winning two games with a young team in his debut season as coach of the Taconic Hills football team, Mark Anderson is hoping to take another step forward this year.
The Titans kick off the 2018 regular season today at 1 p.m. with a non-conference game at Section IV’s Whitney Point — a school that sits three hours to the West, just north of Binghamton.
Anderson got a first-hand look at his team in action this past weekend when it scrimmaged Coxsackie-Athens, Rondout Valley and Red Hook and came away satisfied with what he saw.
“Our tackling was pretty good. The defensive side did well, running backs did a nice job. We do have some things to work on. We’ve got some young linemen,” he said.
The Titans have five starters back on offense and six on defense from last year’s team, which finished 2-7 overall. They finished the season on a high note with a shutout win over Cohoes, something Anderson hopes to build on.
“I liked how we finished last year, I think we finished very strong,” Anderson said. “I’m going to put in a few new wrinkles, like everybody does, but formation-wise and the base core of our offense will stay the same and the same with our defense.”
Headlining the returnees on both sides of the ball is junior Shane Bradway, who is beginning his fourth year on the varsity team. Bradway, who started in the secondary as an eighth grader, will be one of the Titans’ feature backs on offense and an outside linebacker on defense.
Joining Bradway in the offensive backfield will be seniors Dusty Snyder and Devon Charron. Senior Caleb Miller suffered a shoulder injury over the winter that required surgery and will be out until October. He’ll also see plenty of time in the backfield when he returns.
The graduation of three-year starter Brandon Preusser leaves a hole at quarterback, but Anderson is confident in the two athletes he has battling for that spot.
“Corey O’Connell got hurt in a scrimmage last year and basically I lost him for the year, he’s a good athlete,” Anderson said. “He’s more of an athletic QB to add to the mix and we haven’t had that in a number of years, someone that can make something happen with their feet. Markus [Hartman] has played quarterback, he started with the Storm program, so he’s very aware. He’s been a JV quarterback, so he knows my program. He was my backup last year.”
Anderson was forced to use two freshmen on the line a year ago in Ed Smith and Josh Hemmings and both played well. Now with a year’s experience under their belts, Anderson is expecting big things from them. They’ll be paired up front with senior returnee Jason Gaylord. The rest of the line will be young, with several promising newcomers in the mix.
“We’ll be plugging in some freshmen,” Anderson said. “That’s going to be the big factor. If I can get the freshmen to play like varsity players I think we’ll have something.”
Defensively, the Titans will have several key returnees blending with the newcomers to form what Anderson hopes is a solid unit.
“The D-line is solid and my two outside linebackers,” Anderson said. “Shane Bradway, this will be his third year as a starting outside backer. Dusty Snyder has been starting for three years. I also have some good athletes in the back half of the secondary, so we can at least move a little bit.”
Anderson isn’t making any predictions as far as wins and losses go this year, but does expect to see an improved squad on the field.
“I really think we’re in the mix for a wild-card playoff spot,” he said. “We have the bigger hitters right in the beginning of the season. We’ve got Voorheesville away and they’re always a playoff caliber team, then we have Watervliet, which is a perennial power, and then we have Chatham, which is also a perennial power. So we’ll know by Week 4 where we’re at.”
Anderson will have two assistants this season: Bill Roos, who has been coaching football for 42 years, most recently at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, and former junior varsity head coach Josh Piper.
Because of a lack of numbers this year, the Titans will field just varsity and modified teams.The 2018 Taconic Hills football roster
Seniors: Devon Charron (HB/DB), Jason Gaylord (OL/DL), Cody Houle (OL/DL), Donavan Mier (HB/LB), Caleb Miller (HB/LB), Corey O’Connell (QB/DB), Dusty Snyder (HB/LB).
Juniors: Shane Bradway (HB/LB), Zach Colwell (HB/DB), Chris Doty (HB/DB), Aidan Flaum (HB/LB), Mike Funk (OL/LB), Markus Hartman (QB/LB), Zach Rogers (OL/DL).
Sophomores: Kyle Delamater (SE/DB), Joshua Hemmings (OL/DL), Scott Moore (OL/DL), Dylan Meyers (SE/DB), Desmond Novack (OL/DL), Logan Phillips (OL/DL), Hayden Rothvoss (SE/DB), Edward Smith (OL/DL).
Freshmen: Reese Adams-Persons (SE/LB), Nate Baird (HB/LB), Charlie Beck (SE/LB), Bob Burns Jr. (OL/DL), Jodi George (OL/DL), Shane Kraus (SE/LB), Ryan Nielsen (OL/LB), Matthew Smith (SE/DB).