By Rob Potter
ELDRED August 30, 2005 Like other Section IX high school football teams, the Eldred Yellowjackets started to prepare for the 2005 season on August 15.
Beginning that Monday and continuing for the next two weeks, the Yellowjacket players and coaches spent several hours a day on the practice field. The team had practice sessions from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and again from 5 p.m. to dusk.
While focused on the upcoming season, the Eldred players cant help thinking back to a couple of key games last autumn.
One of those contests was a 14-7 season-opening loss at Hancock. The Yellowjackets thought they had a chance to tie the score with an extra point kick or take the lead with a 2-point conversion after Jonathan Counts reached the end zone on a pass from quarterback Nick McCormick with about two minutes remaining in the contest. But the score was nullified by a holding penalty and Eldred suffered a tough loss to the Wildcats, a Section IV Class D team.
The Yellowjackets 2004 season also ended with a tough defeat. In its final regular season game, Eldred hosted Chester, a fellow Section IX Class D squad. Both teams entered the contest with 3-1 Class D records and the winner would advance to play Millbrook in the Section IX Class D championship game one week later at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
Eldred held an early 7-6 lead, but the Hambletonians roared back to post a 40-14 victory.
The Chester game was very disappointing, said Counts, who is a senior co-captain for the 2005 Yellowjackets. I been thinking about that game a lot.
You remember all of the games from last season, win or lose, said George Fountain, a senior offensive lineman.
Counts, Fountain and their teammates are determined to make some more pleasant memories this season.
Practices have been good, said senior co-captain Patrick Kean. I think we look pretty good. We should do well this year.
I think we have a good chance to go to Dietz [Stadium] this season, Kean added. We have a good running back in Jonathan, a good quarterback in Nick, a good offensive line, me at wide receiver and a fast defense.
Kean noted that he and many of his teammates have been playing football together since their days in Pop Warner competition.
There are 11 seniors John
Adams, Counts, Jeremy DeForge, Greg Fotiades, Fountain, Nick Gottlieb, Kean, Walter Kreidell, Tyler La Put, Mike Prunka and John Thomas Vogt on the Yellowjacket roster this autumn. The team also has several juniors and sophomores with a good deal of varsity experience.
The head coach of the team will be Frank Kean. His assistant coaches include John LiGreci, Lance Schneider, Chris Smith and Dave Thompson.
I dont believe in making a lot of predictions, said Kean, who is entering his 26th year as head coach at Eldred. But we have a great group of players and I think we have the potential to be really good this season.
The Yellowjackets will not have to wait long for the chance to avenge one of their 2004 defeats. On Friday night, the team will host Hancock in a non-league game. Eldred will be utilizing a temporary lighting system for the contest, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
The season continues on Saturday, Sept. 10 when the Yellowjackets host Webutuck in a non-league game. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m.
In addition to league games against Class D teams Chester, Livingston Manor/Roscoe, Millbook and Webutuck, Eldred will also play non-league contests against Chester, Livingston Manor/Roscoe and Webutuck. The Yellowjackets will also face Tri-Valley, a Class C team, in a non-league game on October 1 in Grahamsville.
I want them to go out and have fun and do well, Frank Kean said of his players.
The Yellowjackets seem ready to do just that.
I want us to finish the season with a winning record and make it to Dietz, Counts said.
We will take it one game at a time, Patrick Kean said. We want to play well each week and play in the Class D title game at Dietz Stadium.
Fountain said that he visited Dietz Stadium this past spring when some fellow Eldred athletes competed in a sectional track meet at the facility.
I looked out at that field and started dreaming about playing there, Fountain said.
Fountain, his teammates and coaches are all working hard to make that dream become a reality in about eight weeks.
Were looking good and were ready for them all, Fountain said of the Yellowjackets 2005 opponents. I hope that they are ready for us.