CONKLIN, NY – For the first time in 2 years, high school football preseason camps are back in full.
And with that comes visits to area schools to preview their upcoming season.
Kicking off the 2021 edition of preseason camps will be a team that has gone undefeated the last 2 seasons when a state championship has been up for grabs.
I’m, of course, talking about the 2-time reigning Class C state champion Susquehanna Valley Sabers.
The last time we saw them play a game with something on the line, the Susquehanna Valley Sabers were celebrating a 22-0 win over Gouveneur in the 2019 Class C state championship, their 2nd such accomplishment in as many years.
The Sabers bid for a 3rd state title in a row was halted last fall due to the pandemic.
After a shortened spring season in which SV went 5-1, the Sabers turn to this fall as their chance to threepeat.
While the 6-game spring slate may not have counted towards a state, or even section, championship, SV head coach Mike Ford believes it did more good than you would think.
“It gave a lot of our kids that are back this fall a little head start on the varsity football level, and allowed us to play some people in different places. So, from that stand point, it was a positive. Hopefully, the seniors and everyone will get a regular season with fans and everything else for that experience,” says Head Coach Mike Ford.
This year’s team will look different than through the state title runs of the last few years, losing players at many key positions.
Even with those departures, senior Scott Howard says the goal remains the same, play to win each game until the very end.
“Definitely the goal. I feel like we can do it again. We’re ready. We’re going to come hot, and win, a lot,” Senior Scott Howard said.
While at times this team made those championship runs look easy, it was anything but.
Senior Brandon Pope says there’s definitely pressure to continue the winning tradition. But, that taking it day-by-day is the best approach to continue the winning tradition.
“Oh yeah, definitely, because, just have to live up to the expectations of years past. Just keep pushing. Game after game. Don’t stop, don’t quit,” he said.
With a regular season schedule that includes Chenango Forks, CV, Norwich, and out-of-conference Schuylerville, it’s no guarantee that the Sabers will be the ones standing come early December.
But, coach Ford sees that season-long grind as a valuable test for the postseason.
“It’s huge. I think Section four is the best football in New York state. I always feel that we’re battle-tested before we get to the playoffs. And it’s great football. It’s physical. It gets you ready for the postseason. And it’s great for our area.”
With 4 of their first 5 games on the road, and a target on their backs that comes with winning state titles, this year will prove to be a true test for SV.
But, if any team can handle it, it feels like this one is well equipped to do just that.SV will begin their quest for a 3rd-consecutive state title on September 11th when they head to Dryden for a 7 PM kick off.