LAKE GEORGE Lake George High School Football Coach Jeff Bennett shouted out encouragement to his running backs as they ran through a gauntlet of defenders pushing padded obstacles in their way.
“That’s what we’re looking for,” he said as one athlete slammed through the shields and collided with a news photographer.
“This is the physically strongest team I’ve had in years,” he continued, adding that the squad’s linemen particularly are big and strong. “The guys have been very dedicated in their workouts in the weight room.”
His comments underscored predictions heard recently around town.
The Lake George football team has talent, determination and a talented lineup for 2013, and local sports observers say this might be a return to the team’s glory years, an era that extended for a quarter-century through 2007.
The 2012 team recorded a 5-4 season, which didn’t really reflect the effort and athleticism of the year’s campaign, which showcased the talents of such athletes as running backs Willy Blunt and Alex Labruzzo as well as receiver Nate Fidd.
Seven seniors on that team graduated in June, a substantial number, but the younger players have been bulking up and honing their skills, Bennett said.
The team will be depending on those linemen to keep up their conditioning — and play tough and smart through the season, Bennett said.
“If we have a good year, it’s because we’re making big holes for our running backs,” he said. “If we can’t do that, we’ll have a long season.”
One key player is offensive guard and nose tackle Pat Barber, who’s been chosen to compete in the Citrus Bowl All-American game this winter. That opportunity followed him being chosen as Best Defensive Lineman this summer at a football camp held at Bryant University.
Bennett praised Barber’s work ethic and dedication to football.