HAMPDEN — That the Hampden Academy football team returns just six seniors to this year’s roster of more than 60 players suggests the Broncos might lack experience, but that’s not the case.
While tight end-linebacker Jeddy Doyon and fullback-nose guard Nick Stevens provide the bulk of that senior might, Hampden is awash in experienced juniors led by tailback Logan Steward and offensive linemen Simon Burditt, Logan Lafayette, Sage Rapp and Josh DeLima — all returning starters.
“You would think on paper that we would be pretty good, but like some famous coach said, ‘If you’ve got talent you can probably win seven, if you’ve got discipline you can probably win eight or nine and if you’ve got leadership on the field you might win ‘em all,’” said Broncos’ coach Harry McCluskey. “I think we’ve got the talent, we’re going to work hard to get the discipline, and if we can have the leadership out there we could have a pretty good team.”
Hampden should have one of the more dynamic rushing attacks in the region with Stevens, a nominee to play in the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and Steward, who starred this summer at several regional and national underclassmen combines.
“I think our running attack will be as good if not better than last year,” said McCluskey. “Both of them have their unique skills, and both have been very successful for us. Last year Steward was a lot better receiver, but this year Stevens has come on and he’s going to be a pretty good receiver, too.”
That duo will be running behind a line that while still young boasts a year of quality experience after helping Hampden compile an 8-2 record a year ago.
“Last year I had trust in them, but this year it’s just at a whole other level,” said Stevens. “I know how hard they’re been working, I know they’re twice as big as they were last year and I know that they’re going to just fine.”
That ground game should benefit junior Brian Fickett, who steps in at quarterback for graduated starter Jon Haws.
“I think throwing-wise he could potentially be as good as (Haws and previous QB Shawn Smith),” said McCluskey. “After a whole summer of seven-on-seven, I bet we had 30 games and that really helped him.”
Doyon returns as one of the top tacklers on defense, while Stevens is a third-year starter at nose guard and Steward and junior Matt Haws anchor the secondary.
“The biggest difference is that most everybody knows what they’re doing already, they don’t have to go over it as much at the beginning of the season,” said Haws.” Last year we had to start from scratch but this year pretty much everybody’s back.”
Hampden faces a new-look PTC Class B this season that includes the additions of Mt. Blue of Farmington and Brewer from Class A and Old Town and the new Oceanside High School of Rockland-Thomaston from Class C.
“The road through the playoffs usually goes through Leavitt and goes through Gardiner,” said McCluskey. “Mt. Blue was strong in ‘A’ last year, and I think they’re going to be a factor, too.”
HAMPDEN ACADEMY BRONCOS
Head coach: Harry McCluskey, 7th year
2010 results: 8-2. Pine Tree Conference Class B semifinalist
Key players: Jeddy Doyon, TE-LB, Sr.; Nick Stevens, FB-NG, Sr.; Matt Haws, WB-CB, Jr.; Logan Steward, HB-CB, Jr.; Nick Rodgerson, WR-DB, Jr.; Logan Lafayette, C-LB, Jr.; Simon Burditt, OG-LB, Jr.; Sage Rapp, OT-DT, Jr.; Josh DeLima, OT-DT, Jr.; Joey Doyon, OG-DL, Jr.; Tyler Norris, WR-DE-P, Jr.
Outlook: The Broncos should remain among the upper echelon in the PTC Class B ranks, though the division’s elite has grown bigger with the addition of Mt. Blue of Farmington from the Class A ranks to join the likes of Hampden, Leavitt of Turner and Gardiner. With just six seniors on the roster and a loaded junior class it would be easy to look ahead to the 2012 season, but with one of the region’s top running back tandems in Stevens and Steward and four starting linemen back, this year’s Hampden club can realistically think the future is now.