Sr. Bulldogs looking for redemption


By Joel Charron

Heading into the 2012 highs school football season, the General Amherst Bulldogs Sr. boys’ football only has one thing on their minds…redemption.

The Bulldogs opened training camp last week and head coach John Rudak has liked what he’s seen from his players thus far.

“It feels really good to have a practice under our belt right away,” said Rudak. “The energy was the best I’ve seen.”

Amherst opened camp with roughly 25 players participating in pad less skill drills at Centennial Park. Rudak said the team was able to start camp a week early because they do not have an exhibition game this year. However, Rudak is hoping to schedule a controlled scrimmage before the season starts.

The strength of the Bulldogs will no doubt be the offensive/defensive line, which has four of the five linemen returning.

Assistant coach James Phillips said replacing a player like Chris Grondin will be difficult but not impossible.

“We lost a really good player in Chris but I think by committee we can replace him,” said Phillips. “We have a lot of guys with talent. They are strong, fast and hopefully will lead us to a championship.”

Veteran lineman Spencer Rilett said the men in the trenches are more than ready to lead by example.

“We have a big line that has been working out all summer,” said Rilett. “Everyone is hitting records when we work out. We can all pretty much bench over 200 pounds. We’re good.”

Rilett noted his fellow lineman have been waiting “a long time” to get back on the field to take care of “unfinished business.”


Hayden Martin speeds down the field in a punt return drill.

With the offensive and defensive line leading the way Rudak said the Bulldogs have a number of “athletic weapons” at their disposal.

Mike Popel has seemed to grab the starting quarterback position and will have a strong backfield with Spencer Petrozzi, Hayden Martin and Kyle Goodchild behind him.

“That’s a dynamic backfield,” stated Rudak.

Rudak noted the emergence of Ryan Gignac, who attended a quarterback back camp in the United States over the summer. Rudak said Gignac “fit right in” with the other quarterbacks in attendance, however it wasn’t his throwing mechanics that caught the eyes of the coaches.

“The coaches were talking about his receiving skills more than his quarterbacking,” said Rudak. “Not to say his quarterbacking wasbad but when they ran routes, he was making some nice acrobatic catches and opened some eyes.”

Due to the success the Bulldogs had last year, their schedule has been beefed up. Amherst will square off against Holy Names and Villanova this year, however it’s a change that Rudak is pleased to see.

“I look forward to playing some tougher, proven opponents in a triple quad A division,” he said. “It will be tough on us but that’s something we need. The only way to get better is to play better people in a tougher schedule.”

Amherst will have an opportunity to dish out some revenge as they travel to Cardinal Carter Cougars for the season opener Thurs. Sept. 13.  The Cougars eliminated the Bulldogs 24-23 in the Wilson Conference semi-finals last season, something that they haven’t forgotten about.

“We want our pay back. Cardinal Carter was a tough loss, losing by one point,” said Rilett. “It’s still fresh in our minds.”

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