Pictured left to right are Greene's 2015 Chenango County football all-stars: Lucian Austin, Dalton Brower, Luke Erickson, and Kyle Nowalk. Below is senior all-star lineman John Hadac. (Submitted Photo)
Trojans finish another season strong
Trojans girls' basketball cautiously optimistic -
By Patrick Newell
The Trojans bookended winning streaks around a torturous midseason skein of losses .The result left Greene just on the outside of the Section IV playoff mix.
And that was Section IV's loss.
By week nine - just like last year - the Trojans were playing as well as any Class C team in the section this side of Chenango Forks.
"We would have loved to have made the playoffs," said Greene head coach Dave Gorton. "We think we could have won a playoff game for a chance to play Chenango Forks in the finals."
Greene led the area in scoring defense, and sported the area's top rusher. Junior Luke Erickson rushed for a team-record 1,315 yards to spearhead a dominant running game. On the defensive side, two-time all-star John Hadac anchored a stout defense.
Greene dominance was exemplified by the three-game winning streak to finish the season in which it outscored opponents, 121-18. "We had guys healthy at the end," Gorton said. "We were very confident and practicing physically. We knew we were playing well."
Luke Erickson, jr., running back/defensive back, 6-0, 185 pounds
Erickson had already established himself as Greene's top running back a season ago. After finishing with a team-record 1,300-plus rushing yards this past season, he moved into the upper echelon in all of Section IV.
"He always had good feet, and this year he really learned how to finish runs," Gorton said of Erickson.
"The first guy who got to him rarely made the tackle."Erickson rushed for over 100 yards in seven of nine games, and eclipsed the 200-yard mark in victories over Whitney Point and Sidney. "He's one of those players who might score every time he touched the ball," Gorton said.
Additionally, Erickson led the area in total scoring with 15 touchdowns and eight extra-point conversions for 98 points.
Kyle Nowalk, jr. linebacker/halfback, 6-0, 195 pounds
Nowalk showed glimpses of his potential as a sophomore, and burst on the scene for Greene this year as a hard-hitting linebacker and blocking fullback
"He's one of those guys where you wouldn't want to go against him in drills," Gorton said.
Nowalk was selfless as a blocker leading the way for Erickson on many of his teammate's big runs. When Nowalk did get to carry the ball, he was as physical a runner as he was a hitter on defense.
While his statistics only revealed six tackles a game, when Nowalk got his hands on an opponent, that opponent went down. "He was the surest tackler we had, and he was really good about finishing his tackles," Gorton said.
John Hadac, sr.,defensive end/offensive line 6-3, 225 pounds
Hadac picked up where he left off at the end of last year on the defensive side of the ball, and doubled his impact as a much-improved lineman.
Hadac led the team in sacks with seven, and was a tremendous run defender rarely allowing a ball carrier to get outside of him. "I think he gave up the edge twice the whole season, and when he did, we were all stunned," Gorton said. "Nobody gets outside on John."
On offense, Hadac had one of the most impressive blocking performances in team history when he recorded 13 pancake blocks in a win over Lansing. "I don't know if that's a record, but that's the most since I've been keeping stats," Gorton said.
Dalton Brower, sr., offensive tackle/defensive line, 6-3, 240 pounds
Brower's teammate, Erickson, got the press clippings for his big rushing yards, but it was Brower who was one of the unsung heroes on the offensive line that paved the way to Erickson's record performance
."He was a rock at offensive tackle," Gorton said. "He was always able to get to the right guy in our zone blocking scheme. He did the cutoff blocks beautifully.
"Defensively, Brower was nearly an immovable object, and when he was double-teamed, he still earned standoffs. A three-year veteran, Brower played with intelligence putting into play what he learned in game-film study.
Lucian Austin, sr., tight end/rover, 6-1, 195 pounds
Although he didn't produce eye-popping statistics, Austin was critical component to the Trojans' offense. On the defensive side, he was the only player on the team to record a sack and an interception.
"Defensively, he handled a lot of different responsibilities beautifully," Gorton said. "You have to be pretty sharp to play at different levels on the defense, and he played them all for us. He just had great versatility."
Austin was a devastating blocker from the tight end position, and was a prime target for quarterback Zach Orzell in the red zone. Austin led the team with three TD receptions. "There were games where he literally did not come off the field," Gorton said. "He was a true ironman."
Zach Orzell, jr., quarterback: The team's second leading rusher, Orzell improved as a thrower of the ball, Gorton said.
Joe Phillips, sr., all-purpose: Phillips was what Gorton called an "athlete," one who played all over the field.
Greene's girls played in surges last year. It had a big winning streak in the middle of the season, but struggled down the stretch with a five-game losing skein.
In all, the Trojans finished just a tad over .500, but with a
n interesting mix of veterans and young talent this season, they could take a big leap forward in the Midstate Athletic Conference.
"We'll compete early in the season, but as we gain experience, we'll get better and better each week," said Greene head coach Dave Gorton.
On the experience side of the ledger, Greene has four-year starter and 2014-2015 all-state selection Katie Carey. A six-footer with a complete inside-outside game, Carey led the Trojans in just about every significant statistic a season ago. "She does everything for us," Gorton said of Carey. "She was first-team all-league last year, all-state, and I expect she will again be one of the top players in our league."
Greene's other longtime veteran is three-year player Audrey Platta. Platta was an excellent ballhandler for Greene last year, although she has had to overcome an injury in the offseason. <read more>
"Katie and Audrey are both very smart players," Gorton said. "We're telling the younger kids to pay attention to what (Katie and Audrey) are doing. It's good to have their veteran leadership."
The youth movement is headed up by sophomores Alyssa Sands and Nicole Flohr, both of whom saw significant minutes off the bench a season and move into starting roles. Sands will run the point, while Flohr -- another near-six-footer -- will play at small forward and help lead the defense.The fifth starting spot for Greene will fall to either returning reserve Emily Montelione, or eighth-grade upstart Emma Smith.
Smith is another six-footer for Greene, and combined with reserve Mary Borchardt, Greene has four players among its top eight that are either 5-11 or 6-foot.
"Size is nice to have, but it will only go as far as your guard play," Gorton said. "If you take care of the ball, you have a chance to win games."
Figuring into another key reserve spot is athletic freshman McKenna Sergi. Sergi is already varsity savvy from her two years on the school's varsity field hockey team.
While Gorton may sound cautious with his expectations, he is certainly confident in the development of his young players, and has no apprehension turning over control of his offense to Sands.
"Alyssa did a lot of great things for us last year," Gorton said. "She's active on the court, and when she has the ball in the open court, we'll score points."At times, scoring points was a bit of an issue for Greene a season ago. With so many scoring options - and multiple players that are quality outside shooters - Greene should find itself in the mix for a top-four playoff spot in the league playoffs.
"Delhi is going to be very good again, B-G has some players back from its league championship team, and I think UV (Unadilla Valley) has a nice core," Gorton said. "We're going to be a little deeper this year than we have in other years. We have a number of interchangeable parts, so (playing time) will come down to whoever is playing well on a given night."
Head coach: Dave Gorton (7th year)
Last year: 10-9, lost in first round of sectional playoffs
Key players: Katie Carey, sr., 6-0/F, Audrey Platta, sr., 5-6/G; Nicole Flohr, jr., 5-11/F; Alyssa Sands, so., 5-4/G; Emily Montelione, sr. 5-6/G.
Key reserves: Emma Smith, 8th, 6-0/F; Mary Borchardt, so., 6-0/F; McKenna Sergi, fr., 5-7/G.
Outlook: Talent is not an issue with Greene this season. Carey will remain the focal part of the offense, and there are more scorers and rebounders around her this year to take the pressure off. The Trojans also have an abundance of size, and it's possible for Gorton to have four six-footers on the floor at one time. If Greene's youth movement that has three sophomores, a freshman, and an eighth grader pick up the varsity speed quickly, the Trojans are a sleeper pick to win the league championship.
The Trojans haven't returned this much experience in years, and that good fortune certainly is a plus for first-year head coach Chris Rice.
"We have nine seniors on the roster, and that should benefit our play," Rice said.
Experience, however, serves no useful purpose for a ballclub if talent doesn't accompany said experience. Rice has no worries on that front with last year's top scorers -- Jordan Harrington, Joe Miranda, and Luke Day -- all back in fold along with consummate hustler Luke Erickson.
"We have gifted athletes, and our basketball skills will need to continue to improve to meet our goals," Rice said.
While Greene has lingered on the fringes of the league playoffs, this could be the year it busts through. Harrington is a terrific outside shooter, Miranda is an excellent inside presence, while Day and Erickson have already scored in double figures in early-season games.
Dalton Brower adds size on the back line, while Breven Gilmore complements the starters with returning varsity experience and a nice inside touch. Rice tabbed sophomores Coy Austin and Mitchell Waters as key reserves who will quickly acclimate to the varsity level.
Head coach: Christopher Rice (1st year)
Last year: 10-10, lost in first round of Class C playoffs
Starters: Dalton Brower, sr., 6-3/F Joe Miranda, sr., 6-4/F; Luke Day, sr. 5-11/G; Jordan Harrington, sr., 5-9/G; Luke Erickson, jr., 6-0/G
Key reserves: Breven Gilmore, jr.; Coy Austin, so.; Mitchell Waters, so.
Outlook: There isn't another team in the MAC returning the same type of experience with the top six players all back from last season. With that experience comes higher expectations. Just a season ago, Delhi returned a large portion of its roster, and advanced to the MAC title game. At the least, Greene should find itself among the final four in the league playoffs.