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WEST GREENWICHâ€”Monday was a good day for the Exeter-West Greenwich football team as it marked the first practice of the season for the Knights.
â€śIt felt really good to be out there,â€ť EWG coach Jim Alves says. â€śThe kids have worked hard in the offseason. Many of the kids that are coming back are seniors that are good leaders that have been with the program for the past three years.â€ť
Familiar faces like Jacob Hornoff, Dustin VanLuven, Dwight Anderson, Carl Neff, Zach Verrocchio, Matt and Ryan Ricard were once again back on the field for EWG, each of whom figure to be major contributors for the Knights this season.
More importantly â€“ particularly at this time of year â€“ the group of returners provide an extra set of eyes to help out the large number of players new to the team.
â€śWe also have a lot of young kids and freshmen,â€ť Alves says. â€śItâ€™s good to have the older kids around them. The upperclassmen jump in and help out during the drills and correct them if we donâ€™t see it.â€ť
Usually Exeter-West Greenwich fields a team somewhere in the mid 20â€™s but with a large influx of younger players the Knights have 37 players on their roster so far.
For most teams this time of year the focus is on the fundamentals and for EWG itâ€™s no different, particularly with all its young players.
â€śAt this stage in of the game itâ€™s a lot of fundamentals, technique and commitments to technique. Itâ€™s getting the maximum amount of reps we can get at each position without disregarding the fundamentals and pace it accordingly,â€ť Alves says. â€śPeople have to understand page one before you can turn to page two.â€ť
The hopes for a great season are high for every team in the state at this time of year but for the Knights and the rest of Division IV there is a little extra incentive.
Mount Pleasant has been nearly untouchable the last three seasons, winning its third D-IV Superbowl in a row last fall but this season the Kilties have been bumped up to Division III.
For the divisionâ€™s remaining teams it is only added incentive to work even harder now that the they are out of the Kiltiesâ€™ shadow.
â€śWeâ€™re going to play into what the kids have and what their talents dictate,â€ť Alves says. â€śI think this divisionâ€™s pretty wide open with Mount Pleasant moving out.â€ť
Only time will tell if EWG â€“ who is the last team to win the D-IV Superbowl before Mount Pleasant â€“ has what it take to return to the top of the division but for now, just being back on the football field is good enough.