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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Proctor has mix of experience on both sides of ball

See what’s at play this fall for high school football.

Ben Birnell
Sports writer
email / twitter
Posted 9/9/22

The Thomas R. Proctor High School football program is pushing to return to the high level the Raiders reached in 2019. 

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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Proctor has mix of experience on both sides of ball

See what’s at play this fall for high school football.

Posted
I think we've righted the ship.
– Steve Strife, Proctor head coach

UTICA — The Thomas R. Proctor High School football program is pushing to return to the high level the Raiders reached in 2019. 

The Raiders navigated a 4-4 season last fall that included some tough injuries. That was Proctor’s first season back since 2019 following a pause because of challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team reached the Section III Class AA championship for the first time in 2019. 

“I think we’ve righted the ship,” said Steve Strife, who has compiled a 35-26 overall record as Proctor’s head coach since 2015.

“We’re getting guys to come out for the team and getting them to come out during the winter (for team activities).” 

While the Raiders have lost standouts such as quarterback Brandon Peterson and running back Treshawn Patterson to graduation, there is a mix of returning players that could help in a difficult and demanding Class AA level.

Perhaps the most notable returning standout is senior Todd Abraham – committed to play baseball at NCAA Division I Binghamton – who is expected to be QB1 in the jet sweep/wing-T offense led by coordinator Byron Abraham. Todd Abraham slotted in at running back last fall for the Raiders and has recovered from a broken ankle. 

“He can run and throw,” said Strife, noting that Abraham played quarterback at the Pop Warner and JV levels. “He gives us another option.”

While Strife notes that Patterson is “a big loss,” there will be a few options in the backfield. That includes Magic Johnson, who transferred to Proctor after a standout junior season with Utica Notre-Dame last fall. Strife also noted senior Domante Cook and juniors Jerquell Henderson and Genero Clemente will be options in the backfield. 

“We share the ball. Patterson had a lot of yards, but we had a bunch guys with 400, 500 yards each,” said Strife, noting that Abraham, Cook and Henderson will also see time in the secondary along with standout safety Joe Gentile. 

The offense will be helped by the returning right side of junior guard Vito Arcuri and seniors in tackle Fehmi Ahmeti and tight end Joe DePaul. The Raiders will need players to step in on the left side of the line and center, he said. 

Defense will be Proctor’s “strong suit,” Strife said. Leonardo Checo and J’Quan Simmons were key as linebackers as juniors and will be looked to along with senior cornerback Zyliek Hammett and senior linemen Oliver Rodgers and Jaylen Adams. 

The team has about 35 players who could see time in games, Strife said.

It won’t be easy for Proctor. The schedule includes Whitesboro and rival Rome Free Academy in Weeks 2 and 3 along with Syracuse standouts Liverpool (Sept. 30), Baldwinsville (Oct. 7 ) and Cicero-North Syracuse (regular-season finale, Oct. 22).

“The league we play in is ridiculous. It is just a meat grinder. It is someone better than the week before,” Strife said. 

Proctor players to watch

Sr. QB/CB Todd Abraham, Sr. RB Magic Johnson, Sr. RB/CB Domante Cook, Jr. RB/CB Jerquell Henderson, Jr. OG Vito Arcuri, Sr. OT Fehmi Ahmeti, Sr. TE Joe DePaul, Sr. LB Leonardo Checo, Sr. LB J’Quan Simmons, Sr. FS Joe Gentile, Sr. CB Zyliek Hammett, Sr. DT Oliver Rodgers, SR DT Jaylen Adams, Jr. Genaro Clemente, Jr. DE Ibrahim Jibril, Jr. Katrell Jackson, Sr. DE Christian De Las Nieves.

Proctor’s notable losses

QB Brandon Peterson, RB Treshawn Patterson (third team all-state offense), C Ambrose Smith (all-state honorable mention), Antonio McLeod (all-state honorable mention)

 

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