On Tuesday morning I took the ride down Route 40 into Schaghticoke to watch the Hoosic Valley football team work, in an early season practice. Head coach Pete Porcelli, and assistant coaches Andrew Smith, and Dan Madigan put the the 30 players through their paces under a cloudless sky with temperatures in the low 60’s at the start.
What I saw was a spirited three hour get-together with plenty of chatter, instruction and effort from this Indian squad who have high hopes for the upcoming season.
“It’s been a good start, with good effort, the players are working hard”, Coach Porcelli said after practice. “If we stay healthy and continue to work hard each week we should have a good season.”
The Valley is coming off a quality 7-3 campaign including their first trip into sectional play in school history. The seventh seeded Indians made the most of that trip marching all the way to the Class C title game after wins over Fonda and Mechanicville in the quarter and semifinal contests.
This year, while graduation always claims some roster spots, Porcelli indicated that seven starters return on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
When asked if there were any surprises thus far in the preseason, the head coach was quick to respond. “The juniors have really stepped up and shown leadership, it’s been great to see.”
That developing junior class joins a senior group that over the past two seasons has gained experience, shown skill, and most importantly has helped to cultivate a winning atmosphere.
Two standouts from that senior class are back field mates Tom Madigan and Issac Sanchez. Both players were third team all state last year with Sanchez being selected as a defensive back while Madigan secured his spot at the running back position.
I caught up with the talented tandem coming off the practice field and asked them about team goals for this year to which they responded in unison, “Go undefeated!”, also adding, “Go 100% every day, and take it one week at a time.”
When asked about a player or unit that had surprised them thus far, again they were in agreement. “Abe Sanchez”, they felt had played well in the early going.
Madigan and Issac Sanchez won’t surprise anyone this year as they are well known around the area and are as talented a pair of running backs as you’ll see at this level.
I watched Sanchez two years ago as a sophomore run for four touchdowns on a sloppy track in Ft.Edward, while Madigan has run for 1000 yards in each of the last two seasons. Both are poised for big senior years.
Walking off the field on this day there was no discussion with Coach Purcelli about individual players and their respective positions. It was just practice number seven with their first scrimmage still four days away.
What I came to see on this fourth Tuesday in August was the team as a unit and what they showed. Not in terms of size, or speed but more the intangibles. Spirit, work ethic, teamwork, attention to detail, and the willingness to receive coaching.
This group showed out in all those areas and they certainly have the physical talent as well. If the Valley stays healthy as Coach Porcelli alluded to, it could be a special fall this year in Schaghticoke.