Cougar football preview
DIXFIELD -- A return trip to the playoffs by the Dirigo football team (4-4) proved to be short-lived last fall. So the objective is to take the next step, however, in order to blaze a new trail the team needs to stay focused on the present situation.
The Cougars unveiled its new look in a regular-season opening game against Lisbon at Harlow Park last Friday. One game certainly doesn't mark or break a season. "We started the preseason a bit less than expected in the conditioning realm,” said Crutchfield. “So we’ve put a lot of emphasis on conditioning."
Senior Brett Whittermore takes over at quarterback. His ability to grow and lead the offense will be an asset. The passing game will need to consistent with senior tight end Nelson Pepin, but some others must step up. There will be plenty of competition in the backfield with Spencer Trenowreth, Reilley Lombardi, Heath Hersom and Justin Jasper. Nick Young will utilize his speed to get outside. Thomas Barnett was moved from the line to fullback.
The offensive line will be counted on for opening holes, with guard Austin Benard and Jack Brown and tackles Zach White and Cliff Boyton.
"We’re young in the backfield all the way round,” said Crutchfield. “The line has some experience but needs to get quicker." The switch was made necessary because Tyler Frost suffered a broken foot early during a scrimmage against Mountain Valley. It was a big blow because the sophomore started on both sides of the ball. A lack of depth might be the Cougars' achilles heal. Crutchfield said hitting and tackling didn't come natural so hopefully the players toughened up and tackled better (against Lisbon).
Key loses: Ben Holmes QB/S, Bryan Blackman RB/C, Jake Dowland FB/LB, Caleb Hall W/C. Pepin leads the defense on the end, with White and Boyton on the interior line. The linebackers must be agile. Promising Newcomers include juniors Joey Hebert (C/DT), Julian Baldinelli (G/LB), Zach Demars (SE/C) and Jesse Hutchinson (G/LB); so. Kaine Hutchins (TE/LB) and Joe Casey ( QB/C).
Dirigo can’t afford to take any thing for granted because the Campbell Conference is very competitive; league was divided up by enrollment -- larger schools and smaller. "We classify in the smaller,” said Crutchfield. “But we’re where we are, hopefully this will make us tougher. This league could possibly have a bunch of .500 teams, which could make the playoffs. The other league maybe lopsided allowing a few to spoil playoff chances. We’ll need to win to get in."