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EAST GREENWICHâ€”Youâ€™re not likely going to find too many football players that are more polished in Division III than East Greenwich seniors Carney Crawford and Andrew Miner.
Crawford was one of the best running backs around last season and rushed for nearly 2,000 yards in helping the Avengers reach the D-III Super B0owl.
Equally important along the way was Miner, a quarterback who can make all the throws and adeptly pick apart a defense.
Yet when training camp opened Monday for East Greenwich there wasnâ€™t much of a difference in which the team treated Crawford, Miner or any of the handful of first-year players who came out for this seasonâ€™s team.
â€śItâ€™s a lot conditioning, a lot agilities, a lot of fundamentals. We just spent a half hour on tackling fundamentals. In our meeting beforehand we showed a film on it, did some video and itâ€™s just all fundamentals,â€ť EG coach John George said Monday. â€śYou treat everyone like theyâ€™ve never played before.â€ť
Like most high school football coaches, George starts from the ground up with his team to make sure they have a good base of knowledge heading into the season.
â€śIf you donâ€™t have fundamentals it doesnâ€™t matter what your schemes are,â€ť he said. â€śIf you canâ€™t block and tackle [it doesnâ€™t matter] so youâ€™re laying the foundation right now.â€ť
This season George will certainly have plenty of raw materials to work with as a large graduating class has left him with a relatively inexperienced group.
Fortunately for the Avengers, that group also won its fair share of games last season and has helped generate interest in the program.
â€śWe got a lot of kids who are out for the first time who havenâ€™t played before and I think having some success last year helped towards that,â€ť George said. â€śEveryone saw how much fun it was to come out on a Friday night with a lot of people in the stands and win some games.â€ť
How good East Greenwich will be this season is a question for another time though. For players like Miner, it just felt good to be back on the field playing football again.
â€śItâ€™s great, especially after the kind of season we had last year Iâ€™ve been chomping at the bit to get out here for six months now,â€ť he said.
â€śFor me no matter how tired I am in the mornings we have offensive practice which always gets me going, even though itâ€™s 7:10 a.m.
â€śI love coming out for defensive practices [as well] to challenge the defense when we go 7-on-7 with the scout team. Itâ€™s a lot harder when youâ€™re not surrounded by guys you love hanging out with, some of your best friends that you play with.â€ť
And with a little hard work, the Avengers could just find themselves recapturing a little bit of last seasonâ€™s magic.
â€śWe had a lot of graduating seniors who kind of jokingly say weâ€™re not going to be as good without them,â€ť Miner said, â€śso we definitely want to prove those guys wrong and try and have another great season.â€ť