DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Foxcroft Academy football coach Dan White hopes the meteoric improvement of Ryan Rebar last year will prove to be an example to this year’s fresh faces.
The Ponies finished 6-4 and reached the semifinals of the LTC Class C playoffs last year, and they will look to those new starters to take over for the seniors who graduated in June.
“Three of the five on our offensive line are new,” said White, “and one is a first-year varsity player.”
That’s the situation Rebar was in two years ago after he transferred from Dexter, where he had played soccer. The sophomore was talked into playing football and took his lumps that first season.
Last fall, he blossomed into a force, especially at cornerback. Foxcroft led the LTC in interceptions with 16, and Rebar had half of them, including five against MCI of Pittsfield.
“Last year, he came into his own,” said White. “I think [Rebar’s example] opens the door for guys like our offensive linemen.”
The two returnees are senior right tackle Louis LaFache and senior left tackle Alex Sedore.
The situation is similar on the defensive line as many high school players play both offense and defense. LaFache and Sedore are the defensive tackles, but “both of the defensive ends are first-year varsity guys, including one who’s a senior,” said White.
That new varsity senior is Dustin Raymond, who will play right guard and defensive end.
“He’s a late bloomer,” said White, indirectly describing the growth spurt many high school boys go through. “He’s bigger and stronger. He had a tremendous offseason in the weight room.”
There are still plenty of upperclassmen in addition to Rebar who will provide leadership.
“We bring back the … starting tailback [senior Don Boyer] and starting halfback [senior Alex Stevens],” said White. “We’ve got some veterans in the backfield plus a new fullback and a new starting quarterback we’re pretty excited about, junior Hunter Law.”
“He worked very hard to get to where he was the winner of the No. 1 spot,” added White.
Senior Kaleb Smith is the No. 2 wide receiver and backup quarterback.
Rebar is listed at WR, but White plans to move him around.
“I’m going to try to put him in different formations with greater flexibility [to touch the ball],” said White. “I feel like we need to get the ball in his hands more often.”
Stevens is also a linebacker and calls the defensive formations for a team that was already among the LTC’s best.
“He’s a real leader for us. He’s just a rock,” said White.
Boyer will play CB opposite Rebar, and Law is the safety.
“[Law] had four interceptions last year and was in the 50s or 60s in tackles,” White said.
Stevens, Rebar, LaFache and Boyer are the team captains.
“I think this year that group of seniors who led us as juniors will lead us again,” said White, who likes the Ponies’ mental fortitude.
Foxcroft won its first four games last year before losing three straight to John Bapst of Bangor, Bucksport and Orono, all playoff teams. The Ponies won their finale to get into the playoffs and won on the road to advance to the semifinals, where they lost to the top-seeded Golden Bucks.
“I think that [mental strength] will be an advantage for our guys,” White said.
The coach was also pleased that many of his players, especially the skill position ones, played summer football.
“I think that bodes well for us at the end of the season when we play those same three teams [Bucksport, Bapst and Orono] again during weeks 5, 6 and 7,” said White.
Foxcroft opened with a 71-8 victory over Ellsworth Friday night.
Foxcroft Acad. Ponies
2011 results: 6-4, lost in LTC Class C semifinals
Head coach: Dan White, 4th year
Key players: Don Boyer, TB-LB, Sr., Capt.; Alex Stevens, HB-LB, Sr., Capt.; Ryan Rebar, WR-CB, Sr., Capt.; Louis LaFache, RT-DT, Sr., Capt.; Alex Sedore, LT-DT, Sr.; Hunter Law, QB-S, Jr.; Kaleb Smith, WR, Sr.; Dustin Raymond, RG-DE, Sr.
Outlook: The key for Foxcroft is how well the offensive line comes together. The Ponies have horses on the ground, but they’ll need holes cleared for them. Boyer ran for 927 yards and 10 touchdowns on 124 carries, while Stevens had 10 catches for 133 yards and one TD. Rebar caught 20 passes for 476 yards and eight TDs. The defense will be strong again, especially in the backfield and at linebacker, where FA has two starters back and the two new starters saw considerable playing time last year. The Ponies should be primed for another deep run in the playoffs.