Oriskany coach not looking at this as rebuilding year for Redskins

ORISKANY — Anytime you have double-digit graduation losses on any football program, let alone for one whose school has one of the smallest enrollments in all of Class D, that program is going to be going through some rebuilding periods.

But third-year Oriskany head coach Jerry Tine refuses to think that way, and in fact is expecting his players to go out and compete for a league title this season.

"I expect to be competitive. Every year is different and you try and make your style to the team that you have. We will fine tune what we feel works the best for us," said Tine.

"We have better team speed this year, than in my first two years, and I’ve got track and field kids and basketball kids here too. They are just athletes, so its just about blending them into our system right now," he added.

The Redskins open their season on Saturday when they host league foe Pulaski at 2 o’clock.

A total of 13 returning players, including five seniors, rejoin the team this season as they will suit up against an imposing Class D Central league again this year. Returners include senior offensive-defensive lineman Brandon Chapple, senior offensive-defensive lineman Ryan Lockwood, senior offensive-defensive lineman Doug Smith, senior quarterback-linebacker Tyler Tarkowski, senior wideout-defensive back Craig Whittaker, junior running back-linebacker Matt Albright, junior offensive lineman-linebacker Nick Cooper, junior offensive-defensive lineman Austin Cornacchia, junior tight end-defensive lineman Robert O’Neil, junior offensive-defensive lineman Josh Reid, junior running back-linebacker T.J. Schweizer, junior offensive-defensive lineman Mike Wilk, and sophomore wideout-defensive back Devin Bryant.

Tine is 7-9 overall in his three years as coach. The Redskins played to a very competitive 4-4 overall record last year and just missed out on the postseason play. They were the third-highest scoring team in the league and only fell to league foes Westmoreland, 28-22, and Sandy Creek, 12-0, both of whom played in the Class D title game.

Only two starters from last year’s team return, so it will be a process getting the other kids up to the speed of the game while blending in the youth talent coming into the varsity ranks.

"We’re going to have to be physical if we want to be successful this season, and I’m proud of them for being physical since I’ve been here. These kids get after each other. If we can be physical, and don’t turn the ball over, we should be good," Tine said.

Oriskany lost 11 seniors from last year’s team due to graduation, including quarterback Austin Smith, Anthony Pickard, Jon Rueger, Trevor O’Bryan, Alex Liddy, Grant Mealey, Dan Buehler, Connor Foose, Cody Murphy, Adam Juarez, and Chaz Koss.

Tine said that some healthy competition has been going on to fill a number of roles for the club this season.

"Pretty much everything is up in the air at this point, and there has been some healthy competition going on for all of our spots to be filled. We had a lot of graduation losses after last year, and we have only two starters from last year’s team coming back. So we are young, and people are learning new roles that they haven’t experienced before," said Tine. "With that being said, things are moving really well, and we’re happy with what we’ve installed so far. It’s new on both sides of ball," he added. "Offensively, what we run is all new to them, so that is going to take some time, and the defense has been coming along. So we’re pleased with where we are so far."

Twenty newcomers, including 12 sophomores, are on the roster.

Those players include senior offensive-defensive lineman Sam Hickman, senior wideout-defensive back Dominick Silvestri, senior offensive-defensive lineman CJ Suskie, junior offensive lineman-linebacker Ivan Gergi, junior wideout-linebacker David Kozak, junior wideout-defensive back Dylan Smith, sophomore tight end-linebacker Erik Buckingham, sophomore offensive lineman-linebacker Trey DiNitto, sophomore offensive-defensive lineman Brad Daghita, sophomore offensive-defensive lineman Bryson Joseph, sophomore quarterback-defensive back Ethan Juarez, sophomore wideout-linebacker John Lacy, sophomore wideout-defensive back Kyle Liddy, sophomore running back-defensive back Shamis Lasher, sophomore wide receiver-defensive back Tyler Murfit, sophomore offensive-defensive lineman Marcus Peterson, sophomore offensive-defensive lineman Shane Tinney, sophomore offensive-defensive lineman Alex VanDyke, freshman offensive-defensive lineman Nick Commisso and freshman quarterback-linebacker Ryan Enos.

Oriskany will compete in the Class D Central Division against Westmoreland, South Lewis, New York Mills, Pulaski, Beaver River and defending Section III Class D champion Sandy Creek.

"There is nobody on our schedule that you can look past," said Tine.

"Class D football in this area is extremely competitive, and you have to be ready for everybody week to week."