Recorder file photo Canajoharie's John O'Connor is shown during a preseason practice.
By MICHAEL KELLY
CANAJOHARIE -- Coming out of Saturday's scrimmage against Dolgeville, Canajoharie Cougars football head coach Ken Sullivan said his club's major objective for Week 1 is to make sure its new-look offensive line is ready for the challenges ahead.
"Right now," he said, "our thing is getting our offensive line straightened out. ... The offensive line is the question right now."
The Cougars only return one starter from the group that finished 2013 as that unit's starters, and Canajoharie's front five will hold a lot of sway over how Sullivan's squad fares in its season opener Friday against Whitehall.
But that's not news for the Cougars, who knew their raw -- and sizable -- offensive line featuring the likes of senior Trever Brownell, senior Sam Deacon and sophomore John O'Connor was going to be a work-in-progress for the early part of the season. The group's green quality revealed itself during Saturday's scrimmage, as the Cougars' main blockers were flummoxed early in the scrimmage.
"And, with uncertainty, sometimes it leads to apprehension," said Sullivan. "You're not sure how to block, what your scheme is, and that was affecting the kids.
"But," he continued, "once we talked about it and got them going in the right direction, their blocking became better and they were more aggressive."
Deacon said his unit will be more assertive Friday. The senior said the Cougars know the important of the season-opening home contest.
"We need," said Deacon, "to set the tone for the season."
Wide receiver Jordan Brownell said the club's emotions heading into the game are a bit mixed after Saturday's up-and-down scrimmage results.
"It's a little bit of both," said Brownell. "It's exciting to have our first home game, but it's also [nerve-wracking] because of how Saturday went for us. Hopefully, we've come back from Saturday, learned our stuff, and play our game."
Canajoharie topped Whitehall in 2013, 14-7, and the Cougars will need to stop the Railroaders' balanced offensive attack to come away Friday with a Section II Class D victory.
While the Cougars' offense will lean on senior running back Rob Clouthier and junior quarterback Jace Fox to put up points, Sullivan said he has enough confidence in his reworked offensive line to put much of the offense's onus on it.
"I'd like to see us really establish our running game," he said. "With the size of a line that we have, if we can ... move the ball on the ground and chew up time, I'd be really happy with that."
Contact MICHAEL KELLY at firstname.lastname@example.org