Waiting is something the Haldane High School football team has had to get used to.
On Wednesday, the team waited for the rain to stop pouring in Cold Spring while working out inside the gym. In Week 1, Haldane will likely have to wait to open its schedule, as the team was given a bye while waiting for the completion of its new turf field. Most of all, the team is waiting for a chance to regain what it lost last November.
“I would do anything in my power to get that championship back,” Haldane senior lineman Ryan Moran declared before practice Wednesday.
A year ago, Tuckahoe defeated Haldane in the Section 1 Class D championship game, ending the Blue Devils’ reign as 2011 champs.
“My goal is the same as anybody’s on this team and anybody in the section,” senior running back Will Moss said. “To win the section championship and go as far as we can go.”
To get there, the Blue Devils are mixing new with old. While quarterback Bayley Semple has graduated, the team’s read offense, stressing quarterback intelligence and mobility, is back. Junior Tyler Giachinta is the front-runner to take over the position, Haldane coach Jeff Sniffen said, because he best suits, and understands, the system after working on it throughout the spring and summer.
“You got to have the triple threat — run, pass, bring more to the offense than just throwing the ball,” Giachinta said.
The running game, however, will have a new wrinkle. Whereas Moss was utilized most between the tackles a year ago, Sniffen said he plans to move the senior out of the backfield and into the slot at times, allowing Moss to work on the outside, and giving bruising junior fullback Matt Balducci carries up the middle.
“We’re looking for (Moss) to kind of pick up from those flashes of brilliance that he was able to show his junior and sophomore year,” Sniffen said. “This year we’ll have more success with him being outside off in the perimeter area where he can attack defenses on the second and third level.”
In addition, Sniffen said Ryan McCollum will be “our go-to guy out in space” at wide receiver, and praised the importance of Moran on both lines.
“We’re hoping he can open holes for us on the offensive side and create havoc for us on the defensive side,” the coach said.
Before the rain came down, Wednesday’s practice was to be heavy on defense, as Sniffen said, “we’re a little bit behind. We made some significant changes to the defense based on personnel.”
In graduating Semple, as well as other star two-way players Ryan Dahlia, Owen Thomas and Nick DiGregario, the Blue Devils lost the majority of their defensive leaders. Balducci will be one of the Blue Devils taking a larger role, as starting middle linebacker.
Despite the challenges, the goal remains the same in Cold Spring — even if the Blue Devils will have to wait until Week 2 to get started.
“We’re hoping to reclaim that crown this year. As it is every year, that’s always our ultimate of goals,” Sniffen said. “And then from that point on, the sky’s the limit, I suppose.”