DEXTER Steve Fisher has always been his teams most vocal critic.
He has demanded perfection through almost 50 highly successful years of coaching football, mainly at General Brown. And thats why anything less will try his ire, even though the performance may have looked good on the field.
So after the Lions rolled over Altmar-Parish-Williamstown 53-12 Friday night to remain unbeaten (4-0 overall, 2-0 Section 3 Class C North), Fisher was especially upset with his clubs tackling, a couple of fumbles on kickoff, and the inability to kick extra points.
We didnt improve in a lot of areas this week, said Fisher, back on the Lions sidelines after three years away. If we want to win a division and possibly a sectional title, weve got to correct those things and keep making progress.
Fishers criticism aside, the youthful Lions (with just eight seniors on the roster) resembled some of his most powerful teams of the past. The Lions pounded the Rebels (0-4, 0-3) on the ground, churning out 324 rushing yards on 44 attempts. And their aggressive defense limited APW to only 30 net rushing yards on 29 tries, and intercepted four passes, three by Matt Haley.
One of Fishers captains, senior two-way performer Rob Pickeral, said because Fisher demands so much, hes always prodding the Lions to do better. Hes never satisfied with how we play, no matter what the score, Pickeral said. Coach knows we can do better, and I think this team is improving and has a world of potential.
Fisher knew he had a bruising runner in junior Zech Pitre, who ran for more than 1,000 yards last year and already has gained more than 500 yards this season, including 99 Friday along with two short touchdowns.
But a big question mark, who would take over at quarterback, has been answered with the emergence of sophomore Evan Will. Will, looking like a poised senior rather than a first-year varsity man, directed the General Brown attack with the aplomb of a veteran. He showed his running ability by gaining 123 yards on 10 carries. And he was accurate through the air, completing 8 of 9 passes for 65 more yards.
Evan really worked hard in the off season to get stronger and to prepare for this season, Fisher said. Hes still growing and will probably get stronger.
Pitre said Will proved from the first day of preseason camp that he could do the job. Each week, hes looking more comfortable running the offense and he seems to make all the right decisions.
Will directed consecutive nine-play drives in the first quarter as General Brown jumped out to a 12-0 lead on two Pitre 3-yard TD runs.
The Rebels scored on an 11-yard scramble by quarterback Jarid Paninski to start the second quarter. But Will contributed a 3-yard scoring run, Joe Pitre added one from a yard out and Brandin Meier tacked on a 1-yard TD run before halftime as the Lions led at half, 32-6.
Fisher gave his reserves plenty of playing time in the second half because he knows they will be needed somewhere down the line.
Haley returned one of his interceptions 32 yards for a third-quarter score, while Ryan Cumberbatch and Meier added the final two scores on short runs.
The veteran boss said this is one of the most unselfish groups Ive ever been around. Its been a real pleasure coming to work every day. These kids want to learn, and they are all about We instead of I.
Pickeral was asked if coach Fisher has mellowed any in his return to the General Brown sidelines. Not that I have noticed, Pickeral said. Hes pretty much all business, and thats what we expected.
After a final home game against Adirondack next week comes the Lions two biggest games of the year, both on the road, at divisional foes Lowville and Immaculate Heart Central.
Thats what were pointing for, Pickeral said. Im sure coach will have us prepared.