Seniors, Alex Verbickas, Adam Zogby and Michael Nole, will anchor the Spartans in 2014.
Jeff Pexton-MHTS/PGI Photo
To a man, the upperclassmen within the New Hartford Spartan’s football program, have been waiting for this season for a long, long time.
As the Spartans double session practices entered their third day at Perry Junior High School, optimism is running high, from third year head coach, Todd Hobin, to the seniors and all the way through the ranks of the 70 or so football players in camp.
“I’m happy with where we are headed as a program. We’re attracting good athletes from within the school and we’re keeping kids, not losing them,” Coach Hobin told MHTS. Adding, “Football is arguably the hardest sport there is, so keeping the kids interested and having fun is a key to keeping the program growing.”
In 2013, New Hartford earned a .500 record on the season with a (4-4) mark and made the playoffs out of the very difficult Class “A” National Division.
“We’re never satisfied as a program. We’re always looking to improve every aspect of what we’re doing and this season we hope to build on what we accomplished last season,” Coach Hobin explained.
The Spartans will be counting heavily on seniors, Michael Nole, Adam Zogby and Alex Verbickas, for leadership this coming season. Each of them are up to the challenge.
“We have been waiting for this season for a while. We’re psyched to have it get going,” said Michael Nole, a 6 foot, 210 pounder, who will play running back and linebacker again this campaign. “This team and program overall are the best they have been in years. Everyone looks forward to coming to practice and working hard together. The atmosphere is awesome,” Nole added.
Up front, the coaching staff is very happy to have returning linemen, Ryan McCormack, Tarik Kulosman, Gary Major and Mike Stewart, back in the trenches.
McCormack is a fleet footed, 270 pounder with exceptional technique and strength that the Spartans will rely upon to both pave the way on offense and stop the run on defense.
Another senior, Adam Zogby, has significant experience at the quarterback position in the complex Spartans offense. That experience will be tapped early and often as New Hartford looks to move the ball.
“We’re going to be aggressive and we are going to be ready go when we start the season. Each of us has been waiting for our senior season for a long time,” Zogby explained.
A main target for Zogby down field will be senior wide out, Peter Cougan, a big target with good hands and speed, who knows the Spartans system to a T.
Most of this group of Spartans have come through the ranks of the New Hartford Pop Warner system, modified and junior varsity programs. As a result, there is no shortage of chemistry.
“We get along great. We’re all friends on and off the field. Playing together as seniors just makes it even more special,” Zogby added.
For Alex Verbickas, the third of three brothers, (Eric and Brian came before him), to wear the Spartans uniform this season represents something more. “Its hard to believe I’m a senior and this is my last season of football, especially after growing up going to my brothers’ games for all those seasons said Verbickas, who added, “We want to win football games this season. We have great fan support in this town and we want to have a great season for them as well.”
Walking around the working stations at the Spartans camp, one thing stuck out maybe as much as the intensity of the players. That was the fact that the Spartans were not wearing helmets in the early phases of today’s practice.
“We teach tackling without helmets first,” Coach Todd Hobin explained of the lack of head gear, adding “This sport needs to teach players that the helmet is a protective device, not a weapon to be used in tackling and when we do that, the head injuries and concussions will not be a factor.”
Coach Hobin wanted to extend thanks to interim Athletic Director, Richard Hunt, who was extremely helpful to the football program this off season. We also look forward to working with Mr. Banek, who has already been out to talk to the kids. We appreciate that very much.
The Spartans open the season on September 5th, at home, against non league opponent Oswego, at 7 pm. A game to be broadcast by My Hometown Sports on ESPN 99.1FM!
New Hartford will join Indian River, Carthage, Whitesboro and Watertown in the always black and blue Class “A” National Division of Section III.
Thanks to Coach Hobin, his coaching staff and all the players for the hospitality and conversation this morning at Perry Junior High. Best of luck for a great season!