Ketcham football heads into season with confidence

Ketcham football heads into season with confidence

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Ketcham football heads into season with confidence

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At left, John Gonzalez, a senior blocks during Wednesday's preseason practice at Roy C. Ketcham High School.

At left, John Gonzalez, a senior blocks during Wednesday’s preseason practice at Roy C. Ketcham High School.

WAPPINGERS FALLS – John Gonzalez already sees a difference, compared to last season.

On only the third day of preseason, the senior tackle on Roy C. Ketcham High School’s football team sensed a lot of improvement Wednesday. There’s more energy and spirit.

Roy C. Ketcham sophomore Tim Cipollini throws a pass during practice on Wednesday in Wappingers Falls. Ketcham coach Bryan Hogan has not yet decided on his starting quarterback.

Roy C. Ketcham sophomore Tim Cipollini throws a pass during practice on Wednesday in Wappingers Falls. Ketcham coach Bryan Hogan has not yet decided on his starting quarterback.

“I really have high hopes for the season. We’re really going to do good this year,” Gonzalez said.

Confidence and new life has enveloped the Indians, who are aiming to be contenders in Section 1 Class AA. Last season, the Indians missed qualifying for the postseason in a 22-point loss to Arlington, but posted wins over Fox Lane, Ramapo and White Plains.

The Indians’ wrapped up 2015 at 4-5, a vast improvement from the prior campaign, where Ketcham was winless through the first five games before Bill Roos resigned as coach with three games left in the season.

Second-year coach Bryan Hogan and his team have more familiarity with each other, as well as more experience. The coach is under the impression his team can do even better, if they play all four quarters.

The Indians gave up a handful of games in the final frame last year.

“Our team learned that we need to focus on finishing. We lost a number of close games last year in the fourth quarter that we just didn’t finish out,” Hogan said. “A big reason we weren’t able to finish was a lack of physicality. We needed to get in the weight room, get in better shape. That’s definitely been a huge focus from the end of last year all the way up until (Wednesday).”

The players are buying in to his philosophy, too.

At right, Darryl Sullivan, a senior, maneuvers around junior James Kuntz during a defensive line drill at Roy C. Ketcham High School in Wappingers Falls on Wednesday.

At right, Darryl Sullivan, a senior, maneuvers around junior James Kuntz during a defensive line drill at Roy C. Ketcham High School in Wappingers Falls on Wednesday.

Senior running back Jesse Pascale said “going 100 percent” has been another one of the focal points of practices and another idea Hogan has emphasized. Like Gonzalez, he feels the Indians will be more successful this season, which starts Sept. 3 at home against Mahopac.

Pascale expects the opener to be the most challenging game of the entire season.

“I know (Mahopac is) going to be our hardest game,” Pascale said, “but we’re going to come out ready to play.”

The Indians graduated quarterback Al Dockery, along with running back Tai-sean Dodd.

Roy C. Ketcham's Sam Vivace receives the ball during preseason practice on Wednesday. Vivace, a senior, was practicing offensive drills. Ketcham coach Bryan Hogan has not yet decided on his quarterback.

Roy C. Ketcham’s Sam Vivace receives the ball during preseason practice on Wednesday. Vivace, a senior, was practicing offensive drills. Ketcham coach Bryan Hogan has not yet decided on his quarterback.

Although Hogan hasn’t decided on Dockery’s replacement, sophomore Tim Cippollini and senior Sam Vivace were taking reps under center Wednesday. Hogan said the decision will be made “within the next week or so.”

In the meantime, the Indians are poised to continue preseason practices on the strength of change and confidence.

“We’re working very hard,” Hogan said. “The kids are energetic and we’re looking forward to having a very competitive season.”

A.J. Martelli: amartelli@poughkeepsiejournal.com, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports

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To see a video from Ketcham football practice, visit http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com

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