WARRENSBURG, N.Y. (NEWS10) — There remains just two reigning Section II high school football title holders left to showcase in “Champions Week,” and Thursday’s featured squad took Class C by storm last year, but they’ll take aim at the Class D crown in 2023.
In its’ first season as a combined unit, Warrensburg/North Warren Central/Lake George looked like one of those teams on Madden NFL where you turn all the sliders up to 99. The Wolverines roared to a Class C section title, winning its’ first 12 games by an average of over 47 points an outing.
This ground-and-pound-centric team faces a tall order, though, in replacing over 4,000 yards and 60 touchdowns from its’ backfield, but there’s a supreme confidence they have the pieces in place to fill those holes.
“I would say we reloaded,” said senior quarterback and defensive back Caden Allen. “We’re as quick, if not quicker (than last year). And we’re as strong, if not stronger. We have…I don’t even know how many kids in the 1,000-pound (weight lifting) club, (with) under a five-second 40-yard dash; it’s incredible.”
“It’s all about the next guy stepping up,” added head coach Mike Perrone. “I think they feel that, and I think they get that. They’re an extremely confident group, and I think they’re ready for that challenge. It doesn’t happen over night. But how far we’ve improved in just six days has been amazing. We need to improve a lot more to get to where we wanna get to, but individually, those kids are all making the strides to do that.”
Fortunately, the team doesn’t have to look too far to find a replacement for lead ball carrier Brody McCabe, who accounted for nearly 2,500 all-purpose yards. Enter Gavin McCabe, Brody’s younger brother, who will step up from his third-string half back role.
“I’m as confident as our line is,” said McCabe. “You know, our line has taken a lot of great steps. We’re looking great up front, so that makes me feel better. And as long as I can make good cuts, I think we’ll have a great year running the ball.”
Amid the gaudy offensive numbers that last year’s team put up was a defense that pitched six shutouts. Junior Nick Jeckel led the Wolverines in tackles for loss at defensive end (25.0), but will take over for middle linebacker Tristen Hitchcock in the heart of a unit Jeckel believes will share a lot more responsibility this season.
“Tristen and Brody were a really big part of our defense,” said Jeckel. “They knew all the calls and everything. So, I mean, spreading out our defense to everyone – not just me – makes it very easy. I think if we’re just consistent, and we work hard every time, it can be just as good (a defense) as last year.”
With its’ move down to Class D, Warrensburg joins a loaded pool of talent that includes state runner-up Cambridge-Salem, and Stillwater, which also switched over from Class C. But the Wolverines don’t shy away from a challenge, and they’re locked in on a return to states.
“If we get to that…when we get to that section championship game, I mean, it’s gonna be incredible,” said Allen. “There’s so many good teams right now in Class D. And we gotta take each week-by-week. But we have so many good players, and I’m ready.”
“Last year’s team was special, and they worked for it,” said Perrone. “They did all the right things to get to that level, and if we follow in those footsteps, you know, this team has the potential, the talent, the physicality, to do that I think.”
Warrensburg opens up its’ season Sep. 1 with a home matchup against Section III’s Herkimer in Week 0.