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Briarcliff Football Boasts Renewed Confidence

VALHALLA, N.Y. – There was an aura of renewed confidence around the Briarcliff High School football team Saturday as the Bears moved from set to set against several local teams in a preseason scrimmage at Valhalla High School.

“As freshmen we went 5-0, but last year we didn’t know what it took to win varsity football games,” Bears senior quarterback Ryan Hooper said. “Last year we got tossed around by teams. We have to push ourselves in practice every day, all the way and we’re doing that.”

Brendan O’Connor, a senior center, joined a barely-winded group of senior Bears at the end of the scrimmage to explain what the 2011 season means to them and coach John Consorti after last year’s disappointing winless 0-8 campaign.

“Confidence -- we are building a team that is ready to play four quarters,” said Bears senior center Brendan O’Connor. “We conditioned really hard and have to get through each game as a team. It’s about working hard every play and I think we’re ready to do that now.”

Consorti was looking for a few good men and more.

“This group has a much better attitude and work ethic,” Consorti said. “It’s been a positive thing to see. We have a good core group, but you have to have all the kids with a team-first attitude. It takes some effort to play this game the right way and we’re looking for certain guys to lead us.”

Those “certain guys” Consorti spoke of include O’Connor, Hooper, fullback Andrew Goldstein, wideout Jonathan Marerro, tailback Colin Orr and linemen Justin Cebel and Ken Meyers.

Marrero recognizes the demand for focus on fundamentals and conditioning.

“We’re focusing on work ethic, team attitude, being in shape, all of the above,” Marrero said. “Last year we didn’t have much discipline. This year we have a group of seniors to help carry each other.”

Cebel believes the senior class confidence has been built from years together playing the game. “We seniors have been playing since modified and Pop Warner football,” Cebel said. “We know each other’s weaknesses and strengths and we’re pretty much a family. Last year we didn’t have the right leadership and as underclassmen we didn’t take that responsibility. We’re older and now it falls on us to lead.”

Goldstein said there was an element missing from the 2010 Bears that caused them to fade late in games.

“We didn’t play a full game last year,” Goldstein said. “We kept up with every team until halftime and then we would fall apart. Basically we are more focused. We are stronger, faster and just better prepared. We want to wins games. We’re sick of the embarrassment of last season. We’re going to come out hard.”

This is the sentiment echoed by all of the Bears after a scrimmage on a muggy Saturday morning as they prepare to make their mark as a team. The Bears open their season at Irvington on Sept. 10 at 1:30 p.m.

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