Toughened-up Burgher line spurs turnaround

WARRENSBURG - Two beefy linemen smashed up against another player who was stabbing the turf with his feet in an effort to tear through them to tackle a dummy.

Warrensburg coaches bellowed encouraging words.

"That's the way to fight, Baker - I've never seen anything like this from you before," one mentor yelled.

Head Warrensburg football coach Mike Leonbruno stood nearby Sept. 13, watching his players rip, crush, shove, and trample their way through the practice routine.

"They started out the season playing patty-cake, now it's a different story," he said. "We worked on this all last week - staying with our blocks, digging in hard and not stopping feet until the whistle blows."

The repeated smash-up drills daily in practice apparently prompted last Saturday's dramatic turnaround.

On Sept. 4, the Burghers were steamrolled 54-15 by Fort Edward, despite some good offensive breakaways and passes. They were obliterated on their ground game - It was largely a matter that the line was young and new to the game except for one returning veteran.

On Sept. 11, it was a different story. The Burghers defeated Salem 18-14 with a steely offensive line and a some efficient blocking that allowed their standout running back Lucas Nelson rack up 231 yards on 18 carries.

Nelson and his henchmen also worked their magic for the final three-plus minutes, running down the clock and securing the win for the team that's in the past had troubles living up to its potential.

Leonbruno said that crowds are likely to see even more improvement due to the aggressive, go-for-broke commitment of this 2010 squad.

"They're believing in themselves, and they have great attitude," Leonbruno said, adding the team is concentrating on weightlifting, conditioning and footwork as well as the blocking drills.

"I tell them that our running backs will get the glory, but they're out there doing the real work," he said.

Nelson did get a good dose of glory Saturday. His accomplishments included a 90-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and he averaged almost 13 yards per run.

Quarterback Mike Curtis did his part too. He returned a kickoff for an 80-yard touchdown and lit up the scoreboard with the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Up next week is the ever-tough Rensselaer at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18 on the Burgher home field.

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