By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Linebacker Jared Cassel saw flashes of potential in Goshen’s young and inexperienced team throughout last season.
There was Week 2 when the Gladiators spotted rival Warwick 20 points, before scoring 21 unanswered of their own. Goshen eventually lost one of the most competitive Spirit Trophy games in recent memory 28-21.
Flash forward to Week 4 of last year. Goshen, winless and pretty much written off, beat previously undefeated Port Jervis. That win started off a four-game winning streak for the Gladiators.
Goshen ended the year with a record of 4-4, losing to Port Jervis in the semifinals of the Section 9 Class A playoffs. Cassel & Co. gained valuable seasoning last fall and graduated only four senior starters, giving Goshen plenty of optimism entering 2018.
“I think last year served as the building blocks,” said Cassel, a senior, who also plays running back for the Gladiators. “There are high expectations at Goshen and that is something to be proud of. It isn’t always like that at Goshen, but we still must show up and live up to the expectations. Everyone has more confidence in themselves and we are excited about the season.”
Goshen and the rest of Section 9 starts what they hope is a memorable run through November when preseason camps open on Monday. Camps run for the next three weeks, with opening night set for August 31. The anticipation for the 2018 season has officially begun.
“You get the jitters when the season is this close,” New Paltz linebacker Kenny Verney said. “I won’t be able to sleep the night before practice. It’s basically the start of the season and it’s the most important part of the season. Preseason camp is really how you start building bonds.”
No matter if you are an up-and-coming team such as Goshen, seeking its first Section 9 title in 24 years, a perennial powerhouse such as Newburgh or a struggling outfit looking for redemption, every team has something to prove entering camp. Just ask Verney. New Paltz moves up to Class A after losing to Marlboro in an epic Class B championship last year. The Huguenots won the Class B title in 2016.
“I expect to have a good year, but I’m feeling overlooked coming up to Class A,” said Verney, who also plays running back. “That motivates every single one of us to work harder. New Paltz doesn’t want to be overlooked.”
Seven-time defending champion Cornwall enters preseason as the Class A favorite. The Green Dragons have won 50 straight games against Section 9 Class A opponents dating back to September of 2011 and will unveil highly touted freshman quarterback Aidan Semo. Add Minisink Valley and Warwick, which have moved from Class AA to A, into the Cornwall, Goshen and New Paltz mix, and you have the potential intrigue this fall.
Newburgh, seeking its fifth straight title, is the favorite in Class AA, led by a loaded backfield which should include Giani Hill, Syncere Tatum and Terry Anderson. Pine Bush and Monroe-Woodbury should contend with the Goldbacks for the championship.
“The first day of camp is always great because it’s a new beginning,” Anderson said. “I just feel blessed to have the opportunity to hold it down with my teammates for the guys who have passed the torch to us. We are going for the fivepeat, but we will see how the season plays out.”
Marlboro and first-year coach Brian Beck is seeking its seventh Class B title in eight years. Two-time defending Class C champion Burke Catholic moves up to B and could face the Iron Dukes for the title. Ellenville. James I. O’Neill and Liberty are also teams dangerous teams to watch. Burke Catholic and Marlboro were formerly rivals with the Iron Dukes beating the Eagles for the 2014 Class B championship.
“I don’t think any team in Class B should be overlooked,” Burke Catholic coach Aaron Hasbrouck said. “As far as Marlboro is concerned, we hope we can do what needs to be done to play them in the championship. We have nothing but respect for what Marlboro has done the last eight years.”
Spackenkill is the favorite ion four-team Class C, which also includes Chester, Millbrook and Onteora, which last year fielded a varsity team for the first time since 2013.
“We have been in the offseason grind since January, but now its football full-time,” Spackenkill coach Clint DeSouza said. “It’s exciting to get back into the football routine and get ready for that first game. I think everyone in Section 9 feels that way.”