OFA Accelerates "Process Hosting Massena In Football Opener On Friday
BY DAVE SHEA
Each season OFA Football Coach Matt Tessmer talks of "the process" when speaking of his Blue Devil squads.
The process where the Blue Devils strive to get better each day; through skill and technique development, team play and the elimination of mistakes. No better illustration of the culmination of "the process" is evident than OFA reversing regular season losses to outstanding undefeated Northern Conference Champion Gouverneur teams in the Section 10 Class C Championships in two of the last three years and going deep into the state tournament.
In 2016 the Devils reached the state championship game and last year reached the New York State semi-finals. In 2017 OFA reached the regional finals.
"Like every year we are a work in progress," says Tessmer as he and assistant coaches Charlie McCormick, Tony Williams and Brett Monnat move "the process" from the preseason to the regular season.
"Things went well in our scrimmage at Malone. We had a lot of people do good things. The best thing is that we didn't have any injuries and either did Malone. We are constantly evaluating every player at every position and that evaluation will continue everyday."
On Friday (7 p.m. start) the Devils host a young Massena team looking to put memories of last year's winless season in the rear view mirror. It will be the first of eight NAC games with Watertown High moving back to the conference to create a balanced schedule.
The Devils (10-2 last year, 5-1 NAC) will be looking pick up from last fall's postseason where OFA (10-2) checked three outstanding offensive football teams in Gouverneur (28-0), Section 7's Saranac Central (20-7) and number one ranked Cambridge-Salem (16-6) to reach the New York State Class C semi-finals where they were stopped by Dobbs Ferry (55-22).
MASSENA EYES REVERSAL
"We expect Massena to play well against us. They have a dynamic young quarterback (Dominic Monacelli) and their backs run hard," said Tessmer.
"We expect them to play very hard. The league should be very good starting with Gouverneur which hasn't lost a league game the last years. They should be very fast again this year."
“Nobody wants a repeat of last year and this group has been working their butts off so that it doesn’t happen. From what we’ve seen so far, we have no excuses not to be competitive," said Massena Coach Nick Zappia in the story on Massena in Watertown Daily Times' High School Football Preview.
“We have some pretty good size up front and some real good kids at the skill positions so we’re going to look at doing some of the old things on offense that Massena football was known for,” added Zappia who has been involved in the Massena Central football program for over 30 years.
Projected as key players for the Raiders along Monacelli are Zachary Austin (TE, LB) Zack Goolden (QB, RB), Preston Guynup (OL, DL), Hunter Armstrong (OL, DL)and Mike Kuhn (RB, K)
Dynamic is a word that OFA Football Coach Matt Tessmer uses a lot when talking about high football matchups.
He uses it a great deal when speaking of the offensive potential of his 2019 squad.
The Devils will open the season with outstanding depth at the skill positions including four players in seniors Michael Reed, Jackson Jones, MeSean Johnson and Stephen Morley who all played at least two games last year at quarterback because of a rash of injuries.
Reed and Jones are expected to handle of the bulk of the quarterback duties but like last year Johnson and Morley will be ready if needed.
"We have four quarterbacks who call came through last season and all four may see action at quarterback again. They are all excellent football players who will see action at different positions. They are all dynamic players and we have other players with the potential to be dynamic," says Tessmer.
"As a sophomore Tristan Lovely is a very elusive runner and he is bigger this year at 212 pounds. And we have high hopes for senior Harry Powers and other players. We have a group guys who will line up at slot receiver slash running back."
Returning lineman who will anchor the offensive front are: Luc LaFlair, Mark Barr and Carson Barney.
"We played outstanding complementary football to get the Final Four. Our defense, offense and special teams all set each other up. But it started with our defense," said Tessmer.
A defense which will have to be reconstructed as the only returning starters are: Stephen Morley at defensive back and linemen Luc LaFlair and Austin Patterson.
Equipment manager Rick Amo, who has been with the OFA program for over 40 years, returns as a key member of the support staff.
"This is a season where we will need everyone to come through. Our seniors have played in a lot of big games and we will need several players to do a lot of things on offense and defense.
NOTE: During the game the OFA Football Family will be holding a 50-50 raffle to raise funds for longtime Journal-Advance News sportswriter-photographer Steve Heaton who lost his house and belongings in a fire this summer. The players hope that OFA and
Massena fans will be generous in their support for Heaton who was an tremendous supporter of Section 10 athletes and the youth of Ogdensburg for decades...The OFA JV's will host Massena in a 4 p.m. game on Friday.
OFA FOOTBALL 2019
Michael Reed (Sr QB/SE/DB), Eli Bullock (Jr SE/DB), Aaron Ellis (So SE/LB), Drew Costello (So RB/LB), Tristan Richardson (Jr RB/LB), Jackson Jones (QB/SE/DB), Stephan Morley (Sr RB/DB), MeSean Johnson (Sr QB/RB/DB), Blake Wright-Ashley (Jr SE/DB), Harry Powers (SR (RB/DB), Tristan Lovely (So RB/LB), Lee Sovie (Jr (SE/LB), Kassidy Johnson (Sr SE/LB), Owen Warchol (Sr RB/LB), Gage Austin (Sr OL/OL), Mark Barr (Sr OL/LB), Derek Barr (So OL/LB), Garrett Zulauf (Sr OL/DL), Austin Jones (Jr OL/DL), Elliott Roberts (Jr OL/DL), Blake Hall (Jr OL/DL), Ethan Kiah (Jr OL/DL), Gavin Webster (So OL/DL), Devon Williams (Jr OL/DL), Carson Barney (Sr OL/DL), Luc LaFlair (Sr OL/DL), Corbin Durham (Jr OL/DL), Austin Patterson (Sr OL/DL), Xavier Stewart (Jr SE/LB).