By Greg Klein
---- — Although they lost 43-31 in their season finale against Clinton, the Redskins ended their season on a positive note.
Trailing 31-7 at halftime, they scored 18 straight points and quarterback Noah Sims set a school record for passing yards.
Sims went 10 for 22 for 315 yards and four touchdown passes. He broke the old record of 273 set by Mike McCrea in 1987 against Little Falls.
”While we didn’t get the win, this was a nice way to end our season, certainly on a positive note,” Cooperstown coach Mark Segina said.
The Redskins got their first win in two years in the season opener against New York Mills before losing their final seven games -- four of those were to ranked opponents -- but Segina said he believes the team is heading in the right direction.
”My goal going into this season was to work on developing the building blocks,” he said, “the overall culture that we need to become a successful football program not only for this year but also going forward. Looking at our progress, I would say that we achieved that goal.”
The Redskins will lose only five seniors, although they were all key members of this year’s team: Sims, Sawyer Haney, John Brown and co-captains Jacob Miller and Kevin Segit.
”They helped in establishing a great team culture this season,” Segina said. “I watched throughout the year how our older players helped our younger players learn, become better athletes and also, more importantly, become part of a tight knit team.
”When I spoke to the senior captains at the beginning of the season, I realized just how much these kids had been through. My system was the fourth one that they where learning during their football careers,” he continued, “yet they always came to practice with a very positive attitude, worked hard and led by example.”
Next year’s squad will return a lot of talent. The offensive line will be intact except, for Brown, with Jesse Shute, Ken Stahl, Carmen Booan, Cullen Rathbone and Ben Carentz all returning. In addition Mike Perrino, who missed the season with a broken collarbone, will return as the tight end.
Lucas Lyons, Joe Harmon and Max Bonderoff are all returning on both offense and defense. The three players were the heart of the receiving core and the defensive backfield.
Segina said he is also high on young players like EJ Perez, Scott Segit, TJ Fay, Vaughn Powers and Kole Rhude, all of whom were asked to start and make big contributions this season.
Offseason strength and conditioning will be a key focus before next fall, Segina said, adding that he hopes to have spring practice as well.
”Gone are the days when you showed up to practice, ran for a few days and played yourself into shape,” he said. “Most of our kids are interested in working out this off season, to improve their skills and their fitness level which will certainly pay off.”
Overall, Segina said he believes in the Cooperstown program and see a return to football success for it.
”Naturally I wanted to win more games,” he said. “That is what we are ultimately attempting to do, and I‘m confidant that we will do so next season.”