OGDENSBURG — Sitting in the Golden Dome after a recent morning practice, OFA football coach Matt Tessmer looked at his roster and said, “We have some very good wide receivers and defensive backs but we really have to replace some very good players and we have a lot of work to do.”
Then he quickly countered himself.
“But it was the same way last year and we didn’t even know who our quarterback was then,” he said.
“Things really worked out because our seniors turned into a great class and we developed so much in all areas. And this year we are set at quarterback with Joey Dalton.”
The Devils won a series of early season games on the last possession in 2013 and went 6-1 in the Northern Athletic Conference season while becoming an extremely physical football team.
In the postseason OFA won an unforgetable Section 10 Class C championship game in overtime over Potsdam, defeated Section 7 champion Saranac Lake in the first round of the state playoffs, and issued a stern challenge to top-seeded and undefeated Hoosick Falls in the regionals before losing.
“Last year our juniors were instrumental in our success. So we have to follow last year’s plan of development in our linemen and avoiding injuries,” Tessmer said.
That development is needed to replace the leadership provided by a host of seniors, including NAC lineman of the year Kevin Goolden and quarterback-defensive back Josh Liebstei, the Times All-North NAC MVP.
All-NAC selection Nolan Rufa returns to anchor the offensive line and the linebacking corps, while Dalton looks to expand upon the promise he showed as a freshman passing, running and coordinating out of an uptempo, spead offense.
Rufa and fellow seniors in slotback-defensive back Jon Rogers and wide receiver-defensive back Nick Sweeney will captain the team.
It’s an offense ideally suited to the all-weather fast track of the Devils’ turf stadium.