The Calais-Woodland varsity football team has no feeder program. It has dwindling participation numbers and lacks on-field experience.
But what it does have is a coach who is taking the necessary steps to build the program and players who are willing to work hard enough to get to where they want to be as a team.
Despite the low numbers and interest in Calais and Woodland, coach Ian Pratt has led the Silverados to the LTC Class C playoffs in each of the program’s three full seasons and doesn’t see why it shouldn’t happen again this year.
“I think we’re a playoff-caliber team. We may be young and inexperienced, but we have a lot of good athletes, and if we can stay healthy I believe we will get better every week and finish stronger than last year,” Pratt said.
Staying healthy will be the No. 1 concern for a program with only 22 players, as it has affected them in the past. The Silverados lost all three of their starting running backs — including Spencer McCormick (ankle) and Ryan Cavanaugh (knee) — in the same game last year, a 28-26 loss to Mattanawcook of Lincoln in week six.
And although the injuries came at a bad time, the Silverados looked sharp for a third-year varsity program, putting up more than 40 points in three games and beating annual powerhouse Foxcroft Academy, signifying a bright future and something to build on this season.
To start, the Silverados will focus on the offense they’ve built their program around: the double-wing.
Pratt is confident that his team’s running game is its biggest strength heading into the 2011 season, and with a small but athletic team, the possibilities are endless with the double wing.
“We have some good athletes that we can do different things in the double wing with, and since we have a smaller, quicker team, that opens up new possibilities to try different things with our passing game,” he said.
The offense will be backed by sophomore quarterback P.J. Descoteaux, and senior fullback Matt Cummings, senior wingback Marcus Bacco and sophomore wingback Cordell Hold will all be influential in the Silverados’ execution of the double wing.
Descoteaux, Cummings, and Bacco will also be difference-makers on defense at linebacker.
The roster is filled with freshmen and sophomores, but Pratt is confident that they won’t be playing like freshmen and sophomores come week six or seven.
“Once we get into the season, the younger players will develop more responsibility, and after they get a few games under their belt I fully expect them to improve every week and be comfortable as varsity players,” he said.
Although they’re called the Calais-Woodland Silverados, no Woodland kids came out for the team in 2010, but two have come out this year, giving Pratt and his staff a reassuring feeling that there is a rising interest in the sport in the Calais area.
Pratt’s main goal still remains to develop younger players and build the program, and, of course, to produce playoff teams.
“These kids have been working very hard learning more about the game,” Pratt said. “They know it’s our responsibility to put competitive teams on the field every year, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get there.”
Calais opens at home against Foxcroft Academy on Saturday at 1 p.m.
2010 results: 5-4, lost in Eastern C quarterfinals
Head coach: Ian Pratt, fourth year
Key players: Matt Cummings, FB-LB, Sr.; Marcus Bacco, RB-LB, Sr.; Dylan Gidney, OL-DE, Jr.; Alex Barnett, TE-FS, Jr.; P.J. Descoteaux, QB-LB, So., Cordell Hold, RB-LB, So.
Outlook: The Silverados look to follow up and improve on a 2010 season in which they won their first three games and went 5-4, losing to MCI in the Class C East quarterfinals. Pratt and his staff face a challenge with so many new faces and inexperience, but look for Calais to be active on both sides of the ball and hold its own in the competitive LTC C East, just as it did last season.