A wealth of experience with returning players competing in a whole new environment are some of the reasons for optimism around the Dover High School football team.
The Eastern Dutchess school announced last fall that it was jumping from Section 1 to Section 9 this season, giving the Dragons, who have 28 returners, including 22 seniors, all new competition.
“There’s not any game that we’re going to go into where we think we’ll have a decided advantage in this game, which is nice because they’re all going to be competitive,” Dover coach Chris Lounsbury said. “From top to bottom, it’s going to be a tougher schedule than we’ve played in the last couple of years.”
Dover will be competing in Division I of Section 9 Class C with Onteora, James I. O’Neill, Liberty and John S. Burke Catholic. The Dragons open at home on Sept. 1 at 1:30 p.m. against Millbrook and visit old Bi-Valley League rival Pine Plains on Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.
Dover senior Tom Marston, a tight end/defensive lineman, said Week One is what he has been thinking about since last season’s 3-5 campaign ended with five straight losses.
“We’re in the weight room all year getting ready for this, starting in January on getting bigger, better, and stronger,” said the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Marston, who is in his third year on varsity. “What’s been on our minds since January was Millbrook, game one. I know that when I’m in there working out, that’s what’s in the back of my mind.”
Although the Dragons will be the new faces in Section 9, Lounsbury doesn’t expect his Dover team to be too much of an x-factor.
“Nowadays, with technology, you can pretty much find anything you want on any team or any player,” Lounsbury said. “There’s no secrets.”
Dover’s captains are seniors Marston, Chase Beebe, Kyle Bradshaw and Greg Boettcher.
“On the first day, we had 40 kids come here and show up on time,” said Beebe, a third-year wide receiver/safety. “That’s the dedication we need and the dedication we’ve been looking for in the last three years. I think this is the year we can make our mark in Section 9.”
In addition to his captains, Lounsbury mentioned running backs Shakim Futrell and Eli Vincent and lineman Jake Wodraska as players who could make an impact for the Dragons.
“I think any of them, at any time, could have a breakout game or a breakout season,” Lounsbury said.
Vincent said a veteran core is Dover’s strength.
“We all can work together and we’re going to be the best,” said Vincent, a senior. “We’re a team, we’re a family. We always want to pick each other up the best we can.”
Marston’s goals for this season are fairly simple.
“I want to make a name for Dover,” he said. “When we walk out there, I want everyone to know that we’re Dover and we’re here to play and we mean business.”