POTSDAM Most area high school football players will have participated in one or two scrimmages before the season officially begins this weekend.
But Potsdams Oden Robertson already has played in 10 games since the school year ended.
Robertson, a senior who spent the first two years of his career at St. Lawrence Central, played in a Canadian youth league during the summer.
It was fun, Robertson said. It was a lot of good competition. There were kids from 16 to 19, so I got to play with older guys who were stronger and faster. Robertson led the Sandstoners last year with 934 yards rushing and scored 20 touchdowns. But will playing 10 football games before the high school season starts affect him, given the physical nature of the sport.
I did (worry) at first, Robertson said. My biggest worry is being injured and not being able to play here for my last year. After a while you have to get over it and just go out there and play and do your thing.
Robertson enjoyed a good sophomore year at St. Lawrence Central, leading the Larries with 338 yards rushing and averaging 7.2 yards per carry.
He impressed Sandstoners coach Jim Kirka in a blowout loss to Potsdam that year with how he handled himself.
It was his effort, Kirka said. It wasnt going well for the team, but he didnt give up. You look for a kid that likes playing the game.
Robertsons family moved to Potsdam before last season so this is the first preseason camp he went through as a veteran of the Sandstoner program.
I feel more confident around the plays and around the team, Robertson said. It took me a little while (last year). After I got the hang of it, I became confident with it.
Said Kirka, Both offensively and defensively you can see there is a confidence, knowing where he is going. Its going to help out his athleticism and now he can really shine. He has a feel for how things work in front of him and I think hes going to have a great year.
Robertson wasnt Potsdams main option on offense last season. He started the year as a backup tailback and won more of a role as the season progressed with his results.
With a few of last years key players gone to graduation, or prep school, Robertson will find himself with more responsibilities this season.
Hes moved up to the No. 1 spot as a tailback, Kirka said. We do have some depth in the backfield. Hes earned it, so I will give him a chance and feature him. Hes got good acceleration and hes got good vision, that really helps. Hes got that vision that when he sees the opening hes got the ability to take it.
Robertson has worked on some aspects of his game since last season ended. He said he wanted to get faster and stronger and also realizes he has to know when to take advantage of his elusiveness and when to just run straight ahead.
Its about making good decisions and being patient and having everything set up in front of you, Robertson said.
During the regular season Potsdam was Section 10s dominant team last fall. The Sandstoners went 7-0 and outscored their opponents 297-113.
But after defeating Malone 25-14 in the regular season, Potsdam wound up falling to the Huskies 25-14 in the Section 10 championship game and then ended the season with a 42-0 loss to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in a state Class A playoff game.
It has fired us up, Robertson said of the Malone loss. We still talk about how we could have done better. Things happen and you just have to live with it.
After this school year ends, Robertson will be looking to play football at the collegiate level and Kirka is confident hell find somewhere he can display his skills.
Hes got the strength and speed, Kirka said. Hes just a great kid to have on your team.