Pat Keevins’ expectations for his Roy C. Ketcham High School football team are simple in 2013.
“The kids know what the expectations are. I tell everyone the same thing every year,” Keevins, Ketcham’s eighth-year head coach said at a rainy practice on Monday. “We’ve been to the playoffs. We’ve had bowl victories. The last two years we have not. We know what we need to get back there and do that now.”
The Indians were 4-4 last season and 3-6 the prior year, last making the playoffs in 2010. Ketcham opens with a stiff test, hosting defending Class AA state champion New Rochelle at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 7. The team isn’t shying away from one of the toughest schedules in Section 1.
“We can handle it,” said Jacob Morgenstern, a third-year varsity player as a junior, who plays running back or wide receiver on offense and cornerback on defense. “We have a lot of hard-working guys out here who are going to come out here every day and give it their all.”
Ketcham faces Scarsdale, Clarkstown North, White Plains, Suffern, Mahopac and John Jay.
There are eight playoff spots in Class AA, but the road remains challenging.
“With the stiffer schedule, it will be just as difficult, if not more difficult, to crack that top four,” Keevins said.
Battle-tested players are something Keevins’ Indians certainly have in abundance.
Along with Morganstern, returnees include senior quarterback Kevin Duke, senior wide receiver J.J. Mulvey, senior wide receiver Roddy Tierney and senior tackle Cody Levy.
“I’ve been playing with these guys since I can remember,” senior guard/linebacker Logan Mongelli said. “This is my senior year and I want to make this the best season we could ever have.”
Keevins said contributions from lesser-known players like Mongelli, Victor Hernandez, Dominic Emory and Ryan Clark, are important to the Indians.
“We are always going to have a handful of guys who can compete at any school, but it’s the next level of guys who have been the difference between us being successful and not,” Keevins said. “Players eight through 16 — what are they going to do for us?
“We know our top guys are going to make plays, but it’s the rest of the roster that’s really the difference in a game like football.”
A fourth-year varsity player, Duke agreed that Ketcham is more of a unit and less a collection of talented stars.
“We don’t have that one guy who’s really just going to carry the load,” Duke said. “We don’t have one big fullback who’s just going to run over everybody. Right now, we have a lot of guys who can catch the ball. A lot of playmakers, some speed.”
Duke’s become more of a well-rounded quarterback in recent years.
“My freshman year, I was deathly afraid of running the ball,” he laughed. “Those kids were so big. All I want to do is run the ball right now. I’m more of a dual-threat guy now.”
Ketcham’s definition of success, Duke said, is simple.
“If I run for zero yards, if I pass for zero yards, if I hand off the ball every time … if we win,” Duke said, “that’s a successful season for me.”