By Rob Potter
ROSCOE December 1, 2000 Veteran Roscoe football coach Fred Ahart described the 2000 Blue Devil season as a transition year.
Two years ago, we went 0-8, explained Ahart, who had enjoyed several successful seasons prior to that 1998 season. Then last year we were 2-6, with one of the wins coming from a forfeit. But this year, our team won three games and we were in all of the other games.
And until the penultimate Saturday of the season, the Blue Devils were also in the running for a berth in the Section IX Class D title game at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
As is his nature, Ahart gave the credit for the improved won-loss record to his players. He especially noted the play of the offensive line.
That line featuring ends Jeff Bury, David Eggleton and Robert McBride, tackles Joseph Anderson, Michael Epifania and Christopher Hickey, guards Russell Bailey, Keith Buck and Adam DeFrank and center Brian Bury opened up big holes for junior Brian Ryder and his fellow running backs and kept quarterback Shawn Hendricksons passing pocket intact so the senior signal caller could find his receivers downfield.
Ryder rushed for a team-high 1,007 yards this season, which Ahart noted was only the fourth time in his 32 years of coaching at the school that a running back has eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark in a single-season. (The others were Matt Csoka in 1989 and 1990 and Rich Branning in 1977.)
Ryder, who scored 10 touchdowns and one two-point conversion this past season, now has 1,517 rushing yards in his varsity career.
Its a team game and Brian certainly recognizes and appreciates the work of the blockers in front of him, Ahart said.
Other Blue Devils who carried the ball this past gridiron season included Brian Ballard (who gained 365 yards, scored three touchdowns and ran in three two-point conversions following touchdowns), Jeff Bury (110 yards), Steve Degerdon (42 yards), Dusty Bury (14 yards) and Dan Park (eight yards).
Hendrickson completed 35 of 105 pass attempts for 461 yards on the season and threw four touchdowns and tossed four two-point conversions. The Blue Devil quarterback for three seasons, he has a total of 1,531 career passing yards.
A variety of Blue Devils were on the receiving end of Hendricksons tosses. Jeff Bury had the most receptions, reeling in 11 of Hendricksons passes for a total of 129 yards. He also caught a pair of TD strikes and two two-point conversions.
David Eggleton made seven catches for 136 yards and a pair of two-point conversions before suffering a shoulder injury in the fifth game of the season which kept him on the sidelines for Roscoes remaining contests.
Brian Ballard (5 receptions for 75 yards and one touchdown), Brandon Cheek (5-40 yards), Dusty Bury (2-43 yards, 1 TD) and Park (3-6 yards) also caught passes from Hendrickson.
Ahart also praised the sophomores and freshmen on the squad, many of whom played well on special teams. Those sophomores included Anderson, Ballard, Dusty Bury, David Eggleton, Robert Evans, Greg Feeney, Tim Haas, Steven Herzog, Luis Maldonado and Park. The freshmen on the squad were Justin Bowers, Robert Eggleton and Brendon Hendrickson.
Ahart declined to single out players by choosing an offensive Most Valuable Player and/or defensive MVP.
The whole team played well this season and they all deserve credit, he said.
Assistant coaches J.R. DeVantier, Bill Hendrickson, Chris Russo and Jason Semo also played a role in the Blue Devils improvement in 2000.
In football, assistant coaches are very important and a key ingredient to a successful team, Ahart commented. I have a very good staff here.
He and that staff are looking forward to next autumn.
We only lose five seniors, so we will have a lot of experience coming back, Ahart said.