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Northampton football: Joe Kocot returns to sidelines with familiar playbook

  • Ryan Antes, of Northampton, runs a drill during practice, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018 at the school. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Sam Walker, of Northampton, runs a drill during practice, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018 at the school. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Northampton coach Joe Kocot talks to his team during practice, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018 at the school. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jackson Heath, left, catches a pass beside Yano Porter. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jackson Heath, of Northampton, runs a drill during practice, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018 at the school. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jack Diggins, of Northampton, runs a drill during practice, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018 at the school. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Kavan Powers, left, and Tom Jacques run a drill. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Northampton coach Joe Kocot talks to his team during preseason practice, Aug. 20. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tom Jacques, right, of Northampton catches beside Jake Brittain during practice, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018 at the school. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ben Fowler, of Northampton, reaches for a pass during practice, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018 at the school. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

@kylegrbwsk
Published: 9/7/2018 5:18:03 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Keep your fancy spread offenses. Northampton will keep it off the field.

The Blue Devils will run the veer power offense after a dalliance with the spread last season, returning to Northampton football’s roots under new coach Joe Kocot.

“We want to control the clock on our terms,” he said. “Those big passing offenses are going to be on the sideline watching us.”

Kocot returns to western Massachusetts football sidelines after a three-year retirement. He previously coached at Easthampton from 1998 to 2014 and won Super Bowls in 2005 and 2010. The Northampton alum has more than 100 head coaching wins in his career and previously coached as an assistant with the Blue Devils in the 80s and 90s under Frank Tudryn.

“If something was up in the north kingdom or down in Springfield, I wouldn’t have gone for it. No way,” Kocot said. “I have an attachment here.”

He coached Northampton assistants Ryan Parent and Sean Kellogg as an assistant, and brought on Steve Dion, who coached for him at Easthampton.

“Before I put in for it, I called all of these guys,” Kocot said. “It’s a group thing. If you’ve got a great head coach and a bunch of crappy assistants, you’re doomed.”

Kocot’s football philosophy relies on balance. Both of his offensive and defensive formations are symmetrical across the center.

“At Easthampton when we got good, coaches were yelling out what we were gonna run. They still couldn’t stop it,” Kocot said. “It wouldn’t matter if I coached in Northampton or in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I’d run the same offense. It’s what I know.”

Caleb Graves, who attends Hopkins Academy, is playing for his third head coach in four years of football. The senior lineman is looking forward to returning to a more run-oriented scheme.

“Pound for pound you’re going at the guy every time,” Graves said. “I like that better than pass blocking every single time. Should be fun.”

Quarterback

Junior Tom Jacques started all 10 games last season and threw 14 touchdowns. With the scheme change, Kocot is considering several athletes for the position. Whoever starts under center will be responsible for hand offs, option reads, running and throwing the ball.

Running backs

The veer features three backs lined up behind the quarterback. All can take a handoff or an option pitch. Whoever isn’t running the ball blocks for whoever is. Braeden Tudryn, Devonte Edmonds, Brett Holden and Anthony DeJesus have seen time in the backfield.

“Everyone’s a threat,” DeJesus said.

Wide receivers/tight ends

Both position groups occupy a similar role in Northampton’s offense. They block for running plays or serve as decoys to occupy defenders when the running plays develop on the opposite side of the field. Most of the Blue Devils’ passing attack will come via play action with rollouts and dropbacks mixed in. Jake Brittain, Kevan Powers and Sam Walker are returning starters.

Offensive/defensive line

Players like Graves and Jack Diggins will anchor a group that comprehended Kocot’s scheme quickly. He compares the audibles and blocking calls to another language.

“For these guys to pick it up so quickly, they’re doing great,” Kocot said. “There’s always one or two that pick it right up, but for five or six, it’s impressive.”

Those same players will make up Northampton’s defensive line since the Blue Devils’ roster only carries 34 players.

Linebackers/defensive backs

Northampton’s running backs, wide receivers and tight ends will comprise the defensive backfield.

“I need these guys to learn different positions. When you have more replaceable parts, like shark’s teeth, one pops out and the next one comes in,” Kocot said.

Brittain, Edmonds, Jacques, Powers and Tudryn have played the positions before.

Special teams

The Blue Devils will go for the 2-point conversion after nearly every touchdown, but won’t completely eschew kicking and will punt on fourth down.

Northampton

CO-OP: Hopkins Academy

COACH: Joe Kocot, first year

LEAGUE/DIVISION: Suburban South/5

LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 4-6

LAST TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE: 2016, lost to Longmeadow 49-16 in WMass D-3 semifinals

RETURNING STARTERS: Seniors — Jake Brittain, S/WR; Anthony DeJesus, FB/DE; Devontay Edmonds, RB/DE; Caleb Graves, OT/DT; Juniors — John Diggins, C/DT; Tom Jacques, QB/DB; Wallace Johnson, OT/DT; Kevan Powers, WR/DB; Sam Walker, TE/DE; Sophomore — Braeden Tudryn, RB/LB;

RETURNING PLAYERS: Seniors — Kyle Gido, OL/DL; Eimylette Ortiz-Viera, WR/DB; Juniors — Kenneth Borges-Vega, OL/DL; Lenni Brown, WR/DB; Benjamin Fowler, WR/DB; Levi Richards, OL/DL; Sophomores — Yani Porter, WR/DB; Edward Sarafin, OL/DE; Jason Sylvester, OL/DL; Ryan Weise, RB/DB;

NEWCOMERS: Seniors — Omar Cruz-Rosa, RB/DB; Jackson Heath, WR/DB; Promise Ofori-Okyere, FB/DL; Can Turkomer, WR/DB; Juniors — Ryan Antes, OL/DL; Sophomores — Kalle Charrette, OL/DL; Brett Holden, RB/LB; Freshmen — Dominic Badorini, QB/DB; Zev Hiranandani, RB/DB; Gabriel Johnson, OL/DL; Tyrese Jordon-Cox, WR/DB; Trevor Maslowski, WR/DB; Lucas Visentin-Laing, OL/DL; Riley Weise, WR/DB;

OUTLOOK: Kocot came out of retirement to coach the Blue Devils and brought his schemes with him. Northampton will return to its smash-mouth, ball-control roots in an effort to get back to the playoffs. Jacques started at quarterback all of last season, but Kocot wouldn’t commit to him in 2018. The Blue Devils boast an experience bunch of playmakers in Brittain, DeJesus, Powers and Tudryn that will carry a lot of weight on both sides of the ball.




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