Saturday Sports: A look at OFA Football as they prep for the season ahead
OGDENSBURG, New York (WWNY) - We head up the road to St. Lawrence County for our preview of area high school football teams, checking in with the Ogdensburg Free Academy Blue Devils, one of the perennial powers in Section 10 Football.
The Blue Devils finished 2022 with a 9-1 overall record, 4-0 in Class B, losing to Massena in the Section 10 Class B Championship game.
Coach Matt Tessmer has some key players returning from last year’s team, but says he’s not really sure how this year’s squad stacks up with some holes to fill on both sides of the ball.
”It’s a mystery. We lost some really good players to graduation last year. We have some nice kids returning, but we’ll see how it all fits together at the end. It’s always a puzzle and we’re not really sure what it looks like yet,” said Tessmer.
One key piece of the puzzle for the Blue Devils offense is back with Shea Polniak returning for his senior season.
Polniak led a potent OFA offense that scored 292 points last year and he says the work this team has been putting in during the off season should translate into another successful season for the Blue Devils.
”We work hard. We’ve been working. This group has been together for 3 years, 4 years, ever since COVID we’ve been working. We work every summer. We put in the work during the season, during our practices and it all comes together during the season,” said Polniak.
Polniak will have some help on the offensive side of the ball with experience returning in the backfield.
Both Andrew Loffler and Carson Ramie will carry the load on the ground for the Blue Devils and with Polniak capable of airing it out, opposing defenses will be on their heels once again this season.
”Our running game is pretty strong. We’re fast. We have a lot of seniors this year. Our chemistry is good. Coming all the way up, we should be pretty good,” said Ramie.
”We have a very strong team and a very young line, but I think they’re working very hard together. We have very experienced running backs and quarterback which I think is gonna work very well for us,” said Loffler.
What will it take for the Blue Devils to repeat as overall champs and put the disappointment of coming up short in the Class B Championship game behind them?
Tessmer says a few things have to happen.
”One thing will be staying healthy like it is for everybody. The biggest thing that we’re looking to do is just try to get better and be ascending as the season goes along and be playing our best football at the end of the year. That’s our goal every single year and that will be our goal this year to just try to get better every single week and see where we are at in the playoffs,” said Tessmer.
Expect big things once again this season from the Blue Devils.
Turning to the college gridiron, the St. Lawrence Saints football team is just a few days into fall practice, preparing for another tough non-conference and Liberty League schedule.
The Saints open their season 3 weeks from Saturday as they travel to Beverly Massachusetts to meet Endicott College.
Saints Coach Dan Puckhaber says the team will gradually increase their workload for the first week or so before ramping things up on both sides of the football.
”Yeah, I think we’re gonna be in that real camp mode where we’re really just getting our base plays, knowing what we’re doing. We’re not gonna master anything I think in the first 10 days or so. It’s gonna be about learning how to do things, make sure we’re going in the right direction, get to that August 19th date. It’s a Saturday where we’re gonna have a really nice compete date there. After that, we’re gonna spend those 2 weeks getting ready for Endicott and that’s when we’re gonna start mastering the game plan for Endicott. So, hopefully by then we know who are guys are, what they do well and then us as coaches can put them in the right positions to be successful,” said Puckhaber.
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