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After two winless seasons, Canton future looks bright

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CANTON — Canton Central’s football program has overcome one hurdle and is now prepared to take on several more.

A drive to bring back the JV program for the 2013 season has proven successful, with fundraisers and donations to pay the estimated $2,252 needed for travel and officials. Now the Golden Bears will feature modified, JV and varsity teams, the latter to be coached for the fifth straight season by Austin Weakfall who will also return to teaching social studies in the Canton school system, coming over from Heuvelton.

“The varsity numbers are low, but very good at the JV and modified levels. When we got the news about getting the JV team back, then right away the numbers began rising,” Weakfall said. “We’re at a developmental stage right now, a really crucial time in our program. Some of these guys have sacrificed by playing young on the varsity without us having a JV team. Now we have that back and it should really help us.”

Canton has been winless the past two seasons and is still inexperienced at the varsity level with just three seniors on the roster.

But in the lower grades, it’s not only numbers on the increase, but also talent. Also the merger agreement with Edwards-Knox has been restored and mergers with Hermon-DeKalb and Lisbon will continue. And a new pro-style offense has been installed by volunteer assistant coach John Vandevere, who brings much coaching experience in from Pennsylvania.

All this makes for optimism as the program moves forward.

With the graduation losses of league Defensive MVP Jay Proulx and first-team All North player Cody Peters, Canton looks to key returning starters like senior fullback/lineman T.J. Lumbard, junior quarterback Hunter Yerdon, junior running back Peyton Vanbibber and a third-year varsity starter in junior tight end Cole Zeller,

“Peyton is our go-to back who we’ll have for this year and next year. He’s a good all-around kid and good all-around athlete and he’ll be carrying the load,” Weakfall said. “And the experience Hunter has had the past two years at quarterback will really help him. He’s ready to take the bull by the horns. He knows what he’s doing, he’s learning the new offense and he’s showing leadership qualities.”

Other Canton players to watch include junior running back Garrison Barcomb, who was an offensive award-winner at NFL player Brian Leonard’s football camp; a transfer from Florida in sophomore linebacker/tight end Chris Tompkins and senior two-way lineman Zach Markel.

Edwards-Knox will send over eight players, including senior lineman Lenny Walrath, who played modified at Canton before the merger was temporarily halted, along with a pair of sophomores in rugged lineman Shane Mackin and speedy receiver-defensive back Devin Sharlow.

“We’re hungry for that first win,” Weakfall said. “The guys are exited for that. Our program really needs that.”

With the athletic fields under re-construction, Canton will play its scheduled home games on the road, unless an agreement is worked out to play some or all of its home games at St. Lawrence University’s Leckonby Stadium.

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