FONDA - A lot of new faces came down the hill adjacent to John G. Boshart Field on Saturday.
By the end of the afternoon, those new faces gave the Fonda-Fultonville Braves a 48-12 win over the Taconic Hills Titans.
"I'm happy with the first time out," Fonda-Fultonville coach Tom Carpenter said. "With the number of guys we have that don't have varsity experience, playing here for the first time coming off the hill and getting up to the speed of varsity."
Fonda-Fultonville’s Will Turner tackles Taconic Hills’ Ryan Albright behind the line of scrimmage during the first quarter of Saturday’s Class C South Division game at John G. Boshart Field in Fonda. (The Leader-Herald/Mike Zummo)
The Braves got big numbers from their inexperienced runners, quarterback and receivers as the Braves marched on the ground and threw the air, although a few drives were cut short by interceptions and penalties.
"If you make a mistake like that, it makes you want to play harder," first-year quarterback Russ Williams said. "That's not what you want people to think of your team, that you make a lot of mistakes. In Week 1, you want to set the tone that we're going to be a good team this year."
The defense set the tone for the game on the first play from scrimmage when Will Turner dropped Taconic Hills running back Ryan Albright for a 3-yard loss. Three plays later, Eric Moyer blocked the Titans' punt and Josh Maybury recovered it on the Titans' 19-yard line.
"Coach [Rick] Palumbo does a great job with the special teams and we take a lot of pride in explaining to the kids that there are three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams," Carpenter said. "We need to execute and work hard on all of those to be successful. That was a huge momentum turn."
That got the offense going as Williams found Brandon Baker for an 11-yard gain and Pat Hart scored on a 1-yard run with 10:15 left in the first quarter to get the Braves on the board. Hart kicked the extra point, giving Fonda-Fultonville a 7-0 lead.
"The line had good blocks for me and I made good cuts and I had a good day," Hart said.
Hart, a sophomore, who is taking over running back duties from Wally Kowalski, the Braves' second all-time leading rusher, ran for 126 yards on 26 carries.
"He was a great player," Hart said. "I played great and it's going to be hard following in his footsteps. I've got three years. We'll see what happens."
Williams is another Braves player stepping into a long line of successful Fonda-Fultonville quarterbacks. After a rocky start with an interception that led to the Titans' first-half touchdown, he threw for 300 yards passing and five touchdowns. He completed 18 of his 30 passes.
"It definitely is a huge role you have to play, playing quarterback at Fonda, but you have to block it out like you're playing quarterback for any other school," Williams said. "If you let the pressure get to you, that's when you make mistakes. So you have to go out there just like you're playing for any other team."
After Hart got the Braves on the board, the offense stalled on its next drive when Kevin Twardzik fumbled after a completion. On the next drive, a block below the waist penalty and a dropped pass on a deep throw stalled a Fonda-Fultonville drive on the Braves' 46-yard line.
"We made some mistakes, which was expected," Carpenter said. "I think we responded well to the mistakes and the kids played hard on both sides of the ball all day."
Williams had most of his success throwing the 15- to 20-yard passing routes. He and his receivers appeared out of sync on the deep throws.
"It's a little my fault and it's a little their fault," Williams said. "It's stuff that's going to have to come in practice. We have inexperience receivers and an inexperienced quarterback, it's just stuff we have to time up in practice. I overthrew a couple. Some were dropped. It's nothing that's a concern for us. We know we're going to time it up and get it done for later games."
His top receiver of the day was Brandon Baker, who had 141 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
"We've been waiting for this moment for a long time," junior captain Tyler Cranker said. "We wanted to start the way we did. We've been waiting for it a long time."
Now the Braves will have a long time to wait as Cairo-Durham folded its team again this season, leaving a hole in the Braves' schedule. Their next game will be Sept. 15 at Watervliet.
"We still have corrections to make," Carpenter said. "We still have a lot of work to do to prepare for our next game."
Fonda-Fultonville 48, Taconic Hills 12
Taconic Hills0 6 6 0 - 12
Fonda-Fultonville7 14 7 20 - 48
FF - Hart 1 run (Hart kick), 9:49.
TH - Chicazia 52 pass from McComb (kick failed), 5:13.
FF - Baker 30 pass from Williams (Hart kick), 2:18
FF - Baker 58 pass from Williams (Hart kick), 33.9
FF - Twardzik 5 pass from Williams (Hart kick), 3:58
TH - Albright 26 run (pass failed), 2:31
FF - Baker 2 pass from Williams (Hart kick), 10:26
FF - Twardzik 26 pass from Williams (Hart kick), 9:17
FF - Sinicropi 3 run (kick failed), 1:50