HERMON, Maine — After two years in a developmental league, Hermon’s football team finally gets to line up against opposing squads for real, as a varsity program, this fall.
Sophomore quarterback Josh Wilson may have summarized his teammates’ outlook best after being asked if he was excited about starting a season for real.
“Yeah, it’s exciting, but it’s also a little nerve-wracking as well,” said the first-year starter of the team’s inaugural Class C schedule.
Wilson also typifies Hermon’s roster, which is heavy on freshmen and sophomores.
“We’re very, very young. We have only five seniors,” said head coach Ken Frederick. “So we’re young and we’re very small, but we’re quicker and we’ll be running the ball a lot with a short passing game.”
Frederick said rather than reign in his young players, he’ll give them the freedom to play more aggressively in their pro-set offense and base 5-3 or 4-4 (five- or four-man front) defense and better utilize their quickness.
The Hawks have already had to overcome adversity with the loss of junior quarterback-strong safety Willie Perkins for the season with a herniated disc.
“That’s very much a blow because he’s a two-way starter and leader,” Frederick said. “So we’re looking at Josh to step up and be a leader for us, like we will be with several of our younger guys.”
The strong-armed Wilson played a little last year as a fill-in, so he isn’t coming into the job completely cold.
“He’s a rollout quarterback who can load it up,” said Frederick, a guidance counselor at Hermon High and a former high school quarterback.
The Hawks’ numbers are solid with 41 players total on the varsity team,
Frederick is loathe to use Hermon’s relative youth and inexperience as an excuse. In fact, he has not revised his expectations or goals for this green group of blue-and-yellow Hawks.
“You’d think that, but that’s not the case,” he said. “We’ve raised the bar with these kids because most have some level of personal experience with football. We kind of bit the bullet our first year, but we went 7-1 last year and now our expectations are high.”
Frederick said the team strengths include heart, character, solid offensive and defensive lines averaging about 225 pounds per lineman, and a deep, talented group of running backs.
“I think our offensive and defensive lines are where most of our experience lies and we have a really strong group of backs,” Frederick explained. “We’ll use a multi-back offense and rotate a lot of guys in until or unless someone makes it hard for us to keep him out.”
The Hawks also appear well-stocked at linebacker with four or five solid players.
“Kids love to hit, even though there’s a size disadvantage,” Frederick said. “They come at you hard. Conditioning is a big thing for us, but also footwork and speed, getting low, and really emphasizing their hands.”
And the Hawks’ ultimate goal?
“The goal is to improve each week, stay motivated and build on success,” Frederick said.
2010 results: 7-1, (developmental league)
Head coach: Ken Frederick, 3rd year (1st varsity)
Key players: Kevin Gooley, FB-DE, So.; David Shepardson, RB-DB, Fr.; Rob Wellington, WB-Fl-WR-DB, Jr.; Garrett McIntyre, MLB, Jr.; Josh Wilson, QB, So.; Steve Roberts, OT-DT, Sr.; Nash Roy, OT-DT, Sr.; Alex Urqhart, OG-NG/LB, So.
Outlook: The Hawks could surprise after going 7-1 last season playing a very similar schedule to the one they’ll play this season, but varsity can be a whole new ballgame. The youth and inexperience up and down Hermon’s roster is a concern, but that enthusiasm and exuberance could also play in the Hawks’ favor.