Irvington News
Rivertowns Sports

Bulldogs Plan More Balanced Approach on Gridiron 

• Bookmarks: 58

September 8, 2021

By Tom Pedulla—

Irvington’s varsity football players may not have expected a crash course before the start of the school year. That is what they are getting.

New coach Jeff Michael was hired a fairly short time ago, giving him relatively little time to install an offense that revolves around multiple looks and to evaluate each player’s talent. The learning process for Michael and his team will certainly continue into the season opener against Peekskill at home on Saturday, September 11 at 3 p.m. and beyond.

The Bulldogs’ heavy reliance on the run in past seasons is a thing of the past. The new coach promises a more balanced approach.

“One of my goals is to make opposing defensive coordinators work and work and work, so different formations, different looks, different plays,” Michael said. “I’d like to say 60-40 run-pass, but it all depends on who we have as our quarterback.”

It is expected that Morgan Balkin and Alec Schrader will both be given an opportunity to run the attack against Peekskill. Balkin is viewed as the better runner while Schrader may bring a stronger and more accurate arm to the passing game. Either way, the ground game will be spearheaded by Ethan Pakola, a bruising back who battles furiously for every yard.

“I have no problem handing him the ball and letting him run between the tackles,” Michael said.

Tommy Flanagan, a co-captain with Pakola, is a scoring threat as a runner and receiver. Finn Cleary, a transfer from Fordham Prep, showed in preseason that he is an excellent route runner. Marcus Canton, Drew Cortese and Schrader offer other dependable targets. Canton’s twin brother, Mason, will see time at fullback. The Canton’s are sophomores with bright futures.

The Bulldogs’ fortunes may depend on how well the offensive line, coached by Anthony Di Nardo, holds up over the course of the season. “The offensive line is thin in numbers but thick in heart,” Michael said.

Jacob Constantine, a sophomore center, should benefit from the experience he gained as a freshman. His play was a bit uneven during preseason, but coaches saw more good than bad. He will have every opportunity to develop into a mainstay on the offensive line and a four-year starter. Devant Webster, a junior, and Ditmar Seci, a senior, are set at tackle.

Even with a simplified terminology, a huge question revolves around how quickly the Bulldogs can learn the new offense and operate it effectively. “It’s very easy to learn,” Flanagan said. “The people who are returning have a good understanding of football, so they are quick to pick up new stuff.”

Balkin said of the adjustment, “It’s nothing we can’t handle. Every day we’re working on it, putting in new things.”

Balkin, a junior, offers game-changing potential with his powerful leg. He has hit field goals from beyond 40 yards; his punting can make an enormous difference in the battle for field position. With continued development, he has college potential as a kicker.

“You could see right away he’s got a special leg,” Michael said.

Players are supposed to think they can win every game. Balkin does.

“Coach Mike and Coach Di Nardo are preparing us as well as they possibly can,” Balkin said. “Hopefully, we can come out and smack all these teams.”


Share the News!
Andrea Martone - Westchester and Rivertowns Real Estate - Houlihan Lawrence agent

New Dobbs Ferry Village Administrator to Start in January

By Rick Pezzullo--  The Dobbs Ferry Board of Trustees voted Nov. 23 to hire a new village administrator following a...
Read More

Brown and Four Others Sworn Into Newly Refreshed Tarrytown Board

By Barrett Seaman-- Oftentimes, when Tarrytown’s trustee meeting room is packed with people, it’s because some controversial issue is on...
Read More

Latimer Declares COVID State of Emergency

This story has been updated as of 7:00p.m. Tuesday, December 7 By Barrett Seaman— Since their springtime lows, the metrics...
Read More

Tarrytown’s Tom Butler Is Leaving Office With A Hall of Fame Induction

By Barrett Seaman-- As his successor, Karen Brown, took up the mayor’s gavel Monday night, outgoing Tarrytown Mayor Tom Butler...
Read More

Irvington Planning Board Close to A Deal On Halsey Pond Development

By Barrett Seaman-- After more than 30 years of on-again/off-again plans and disputes, a picture is nearly complete of what...
Read More

Boys High School Hoops Squads Ready to Get Season Rolling

By Tom Pedulla DOBBS FERRY Top returnees: Senior guard Ryan Brunenavs, senior center Jabari Marsland, senior forward Adam Schwartz. Top...
Read More

Local High School Girls’ Basketball Teams Ready to Take the Court

By Tom Pedulla The Hudson Independent examines the prospects of local schools for the varsity girls’ basketball season. DOBBS FERRY...
Read More

Who Would Do Such A Thing?

By Barrett Seaman— Twice in mid-November, someone, most likely in the dead of night, dug up the native perennials that...
Read More

Tarrytown to Allow Cannabis Dispensaries (But Not Lounges) to Set Up Shop

By Rick Pezzullo--- The Tarrytown Board of Trustees has informally decided to join neighboring Sleepy Hollow in welcoming cannabis dispensaries--but...
Read More

Chutney’s Masala’s New Street Food Menu

By Shana Liebman-- Irvington’s Chutney Masala, one of Westchester’s top Indian restaurants, just launched a new Indian street food menu...
Read More
58 recommended
bookmark icon