Dan DeFrancesco checking in from Carmel.
Just got back from watching the final hour of Carmel’s practice. Last year the Rams went 4-4. Here are some highlights:
• With the new addition of junior QB R.J. Martinez, a basketball player who decided to come out for the team, senior WR/DB Danny Behnken can now move from quarterback to wide receiver. Behnken, along with seniors WR/DB Joe Gervasi and WR/DB Brian Smith and junior WR/DB Raymond Dorritie are all at least 6 feet tall. Coach Todd Cayea had this to say: “There is going to be some matchup problems for teams. I think that’s one of our strengths on offense.”
• The size advantage isn’t across the board, though. Carmel is small on the line of scrimmage, something that has caused Cayea to change Carmel’s strategy. Traditionally a power-running team, the Rams will look to use quick developing plays. In addition to his stable of large wideouts, Cayea also has a few quick slot receivers like seniors WR/DB Kyle Kirk and WR/DB Zac Smrek and junior WR/DB Jagger Ashley, that will help plays develop quickly.
• The issue of who will get the ball to these receivers is still up in the air. The job is between freshman QB Joey Rodriguez and newcomer Martinez. Cayea has yet to name a starter.
• Despite all the talk about airing the ball out, that doesn’t mean Carmel will get completely away from its roots. Cayea looks for senior RB/DB Anthony Bria to have another strong year in the backfield.
• On the defensive side of the ball, Cayea says his squad needs to be a pressure defense that is aggressive. The Rams can’t be willing to sit back; they need to be ready to punch first. Seniors C/LB Dan Murphy and OG/NT Mike Marianiello along with Bria will be key factors that need to play both sides of the ball. This is something Cayea is worried about, but has no choice due to his team’s lack of depth.
• Cayea also feels specials teams will be big factor this year. Smith, the team’s punter, will get Carmel out of some tough situations, according to Cayea. Junior WR/DB Nick Azadian will serve as the team’s placekicker.
• What Carmel lacks in size Cayea believes makes up for in toughness and discipline, something he continues to try and instill. An example of this are the “Reminders” Cayea has performed at the end of practice. When a player breaks a rule, in this case taking his helmet off during practice, the whole team must sprint 100 yards while performing up-downs every five yards. The idea is to make the players accountable for one and another.
• As for Cayea’s outlook for the season, he had this to say: “I know there is a lot of people that don’t expect a lot from these kids, but I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people. We’re going to be a smart team that’s going to play hard and is going to be disciplined. We’re going to be physical and that’s going to be our trademark. We know we are not going to be the most physically gifted team on the field but those are the standards we live by and that’s how we’re going to go out every Friday night and play.”