Potter Leader-Enterprise / Port Allegany Reporter Argus
September 9, 2009
At Port Allegany High School, last year’s football season can be summed up by the numbers, although perhaps not the ones on the scoreboard. With 24 names on the opening-day roster – which later dipped into the high teens for a game or two – and just three of those players tipping the scales at (barely) over 200 pounds, the undermanned Gators simply wore down late in many of their games en route to a 3-6 record.
Although disappointed by the results, fifth-year Port High head coach Mike Bodamer couldn’t find fault with his players’ determination. “Even though it wasn’t a great season in terms of wins, I really think the kids played their hearts out,” he said. “They never gave up. Almost every single game, we were in right until the very end. I just hope it carries over to this season.”
Port will still be giving away a significant amount of weight on the lines in 2009; once again, 200-pounders are few and far between on the roster. But at least this year, there are enough players to be able to run a full 11-on-11 practice.
“Our numbers are a lot better this year. I think we’ve got 39 kids, which is a lot better than the 18 or 19 we ended with last year. We’ve got a little bit more depth, so we should be okay,” Bodamer said.
The Gators boast an experienced backfield, with starting quarterback Camrin Stuckey (27-58, 166 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) and all four of last year’s leading rushers returning. Junior fullback Seth Lowery (102 carries-452 yards, 3 touchdown runs) and seniors Ryan Bodamer (85-252, 1 TD) and Paul Woods (15-89, 1 TD) are the projected starters, with junior Zach Ramadhan (17-73, 1 TD) also seeing some time.
While Stuckey enters the season as the quarterback, coach Bodamer also wants to get his backup, freshman Matt Bodamer, some experience while hopefully creating mismatches against the defense.
“I’d like to try to be able to use (Stuckey) a couple of times maybe out at split or even as a running back, because he is such a threat with the ball,” he explained. “Lucas Kline can get down the field and I think he can catch, I think if we can split Lucas and Camrin, it can be a pretty lethal weapon for us. So we may flip-flop Stuke around a little bit, but he is a quarterback for most of the time.”
The switch worked to near-perfection in the season opener against Curwensville; the younger Bodamer checked into the huddle at the 8:17 mark of the second quarter and went the rest of the way under center, tossing two touchdown passes – including a 60-yarder – to Stuckey.
Linemen Damen Brodhun, Josh Guerrero, Brent Frontino, and Chris Fabish all graduated, but the Gators do have three returning lettermen in their front five, with seniors Adam Greenman and James Nellis anchoring the right side, junior Zach Manning at center, and new starters Benn Baxter (guard) and freshman Nick Budd (tackle) on the left.
“We’re not big up front, but the kids seem to know what they’re doing, and we actually have more quickness this year. Hopefully quickness can beat size, especially at guard. Adam and Benn are our two guards; they’re not very big, but they’re fast and aggressive, so hopefully that will counteract their lack of size,” coach Bodamer said.
Seniors Ryan Bodamer, Greenman, Nellis, and Kline are the captains.
On the other side of the ball, the veteran mentor admitted, “We’re losing a couple of key parts. (Big 30 All-Star) Josh Guerrero at linebacker; hopefully Seth Lowery can step in for him. Bryce Healy was in the secondary for the last three years, but we have Ryan, Paul, and Camrin coming back, so our secondary should be pretty good. I definitely see the defense being our strong point again this year.”
Either Cameron County or Coudersport has been at the top of the division standings at the end of every season since 2002. Odds are, that streak will last for at least one more season.
“Cameron County has size, speed, strength – they’ve got everything, so Emporium’s definitely the team to beat,” Bodamer said. “Coudy’s big up front. Their skill positions might be a little down this year, but they’re always a good team. Smethport should be good. They have some running backs coming back, so they should be a lot better. Eldred had some skill-position players last year, that should make them competitive. And I even hear that Sheffield has gone in with Abraxas again, so that’s going to give them a lot more talent.
“I think the league is definitely up in the air. Emporium should be the top of the list, but after that … I think Brockway’s going to be a surprise. They throw the ball well with that no-huddle spread offense, so I think you’ll see Brockway up there, too. It will be a pretty competitive league this year.”
Where does Port fit into that?
“I really couldn’t tell you,” Bodamer said. “I think we have some experience – it’s lack of size I’m concerned about, whether or not we can handle bigger teams up front. Hopefully our speed and quickness can help compensate for that; try to outrun teams instead of outmuscle them.”
5 – Curwensville, 1:30 p.m.
12 – at ECC, 7 p.m.
19 – Johnsonburg, 1:30 p.m.
25 – at Kane, 7 p.m.
2 – at Smethport, 7 p.m.
10 – Sheffield, 1:30 p.m.
17 – Cameron County, 11 a.m.
23 – at Coudersport, 7 p.m.
30 – at Otto-Eldred, 7 p.m.