SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Blue Streaks head into their Week 3 matchup against Guilderland with a 1-1 record in the Empire Division. During this week’s Q&A, we sit down with Saratoga Springs head coach Terry Jones, as he talks about building off of last year’s statement season and the season at hand.
Q. You guys had that 49-point outburst Week 1. Do you think you surprised people, after losing your offensive firepower from last year?
A. I have no idea if we surprised people. I know we weren’t surprised. We feel we have the weapons offensively to put points on the board on a regular basis. We were more surprised by how many points we gave up (28).
Q. One of those weapons is junior quarterback Brian Williams. The first game we saw legs (12 carries, 2 rushing TDs). The second game we saw his arm (23 passing attempts, 2 TDs). Do you see him as a consistent dual threat?
A. We certainly do. Brian may not have the overall quickness that Jake [Eglintine] had last year, but Brian runs the ball very well and he’s got very good speed and vision, and he has a very good arm. We anticipated, coming into this year, throwing the ball more. Part of that is to spread that ball around and get it to our threats on the outside—Nick Anderson, Luke Thompson. Throwing the ball isn’t necessarily out of necessity. It’s out of want to spread it around.
Q. After giving up 28 points in the Week 1 win over La Salle and allowing 391 rushing yards to Shaker in the Week 2 loss, is there anything that you’ve really been stressing with the defense?
A. We talk about being more physical up front. The bottom line is we have to play better and we’ve gone over their technique on film. This is a physical game and in AA there are a lot of physical schools. Right now, we’re not playing the way I think we can defensively, and it’s hurting us primarily in the run game.
Q. Last year, an integral part of the team was the big offensive line and an aggressive defensive line. We know you’ve lost a lot of guys from last year. When you talk about the team being more physical, are you implying that it starts with the lines on both sides of the ball?
A. It certainly does. I think we’re playing better offensively on the line and I think we’re more aggressive offensively. A lot of it comes down to confidence. When you look at our returning starters on defense, two of them are in the secondary and one of them is at linebacker. Every one of our starting defensive lineman were not starters last year. Now they’re being asked to do that and it’s a comfort level.
Q. At the beginning of last season, you said your goal was to get Saratoga back on the map as far as competing for a Section II championship (last one was 2009). You guys did that, starting with hosting your first playoff game in three years. Building off last year, despite losing a lot of guys, what are you saying this year?
A. We, as coaches, and the kids want to build off that. The kids want to go further than we did last year (Section II semifinal), but like we tell them, ‘It doesn’t just happen.’ You have to work at it. One thing about putting the team back on the map is also putting teams back on other team’s radar. Teams are aware of you and you becoming the stepping stone for other teams. If they can knock you off, it’s a step up for them. We’re aware of that and we know no one is going to roll over for us because we went 7-2 last year.
Q. Last year, offensively, you had three main weapons (Jake Eglintine, Dakota Harvey, Jordan Wilcox) and the game-plan was to run right at people. This year, as you spread things out, how do you feel about utilizing more guys?
A. Last year was an entirely new offense. We hadn’t run the spread and we had some experienced kids back who were going to get the majority of the carries. We didn’t throw the ball a lot because we didn’t have to. Our goal this year was to spread the ball around and not just rely on three kids. Already we’ve had a number of kids carry or catch the ball. From our quarterback to Ryan Manlapaz (RB), Robert Haughton (RB), Jordan Buchas (RB), Luke Thompson (WR) and Nick Anderson (WR) leading the team in receptions, the idea is to make it more difficult for teams to prepare for us on any given week.
Q. You host Guilderland (0-2) this Friday. What is your main priority?
A. [Andrew Sentz] is a mobile quarterback. He likes the ball in his hands and he likes to make things happen. He’s certainly a kid who we’re going to have to contain. Watching him on film, he’s made a lot of things happen with his legs. It’s funny when you watch the two teams, there’s a lot of similarities between the two. We both run a spread offense and we both rely on the quarterback. We’ll both throw the ball and we both run a 4-3 defensively, so there are a lot of similarities between the two programs.
Jones added that he’s pleased to be able to be playing at home tonight, after a grub problem on Blue Streaks’ field caused talks of having the game at a neutral site. As of Thursday, the Empire Division matchup was still scheduled to be played at the Saratoga Springs High School at 7 p.m. Both JV and freshman football have not been able to play on the field because of the grub situation’s damage to certain sections of the gridiron.
Note: In Week 1, at home, Ryan Manlapaz rushed for 129 yards on seven carries. The junior also added three touchdowns. Look for him to be a presence again tonight after a 63-yard, zero-touchdown performance at Shaker last Friday.