Fall sports preview: Belchertown football ‘hungry’ for playoff appearance

  • Tyler Laramee, center, carries the ball before being tackled by a group of teammates during practice, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019 at Belchertown High School. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Lineman Curtis Walthers takes a water break during practice, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019 at Belchertown High School. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Belchertown coach Ed Wyzik talks to his team during practice, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019 at the school. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hunter Klingensmith carries the ball during practice, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019 at Belchertown High School. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Francisco Moreira, right, catches a pass intended for Callaghan Daskins during practice, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019 at Belchertown High School. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Callaghan Daskins, right, carries the ball past a pair of teammates during practice, Aug. 27 at Belchertown High School. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hunter Englert, right, grapples with Chris Greene during practice, Aug. 27 at Belchertown High School. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Cam Otto passes during practice, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019 at Belchertown High School. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hunter Klingensmith carries the ball during practice, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019 at Belchertown High School. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/6/2019 8:00:32 AM
Modified: 9/6/2019 8:00:21 AM

Before practice could get started, all of the Belchertown football players had to run up and down a hill next to the field.

As players sprinted up the hill, the constant scrapping of cleats on the grass created a muddy avenue and made ascending to the top more difficult. The climb was tiring, but that didn’t stop other players in line from cheering on those who were in front of them.

“They are like a big family,” Belchertown coach Ed Wyzik said. “The energy level is strong. Nobody has their head down, everyone is working hard at practice. If we have a new kid that has never played before and he is gassed, they are right there picking him up and running up the field with him to make sure he finishes. The unity and family atmosphere, you can’t say much more than that. They all work hard together.”

The Orioles went 7-4 and were close to making the postseason last year. But close isn’t good enough for this year’s team.

“They’re hungry,” Wyzik said. “These kids are working hard right now. ... I feel confident we are going to put a pretty good team together this year.”

Belchertown lost 14 players to graduation. There are spots on the defensive line, offensive line, backfield and secondary up for grabs, but this year’s senior class has done a solid job picking up the reigns.

“Our senior class is a very talented class,” said Wyzik.

With the graduation of quarterback and free safety John Flink, senior Cameron Otto has assumed the role of starting signal-caller. As a backup for the last two seasons, Otto has learned a lot from watching Flink and improved his game by going to quarterback camps this summer.

“His mental toughness is there. He didn’t have that before, he has it now,” Wyzik said. “He’s a fast kid. I think he is really going to help us this year. He is a leader on the field.”

As practice continued, the players split into positional groups. The offensive linemen worked on blocking technique. After each rep, coaches made it a point to critique individual player’s posture, hand placement and steps.

“The coaching is 100 percent for the players,” senior offensive tackle Curtis Walther said. “There are no favorites. They work day and night to help us with any questions that we have.”

Quarterback

Otto is poised to be the team’s starting quarterback this season. Standing at 6 foot, 3 inches, he will have a good presence from under center. In addition to an accurate arm and big frame, he can also run the ball.

Running back

Cal Daskam was the team’s feature running back last season and picked up 800 yards on the ground. Coming into this season, he is motivated to push himself even further.

“I want to try and get 1,000 yards this year,” Daskam said. “I came up 200 yards short last year. Hopefully we can get that done this year.”

Offensive/defensive line

Walther is the only senior on the Orioles’ offensive line. With so much turnover in the trenches on both sides of the ball, he is set to be one of the unit’s most battle-tested contributors.

“He has been putting a lot of time in, he works hard,” said Wyzik.

A lot of players are in the mix for starting jobs on the offensive and defensive line. Juniors Hunter Englert and Jake Delaney, and sophomore Eric Manger are a few players who could see time on both sides of the ball.

Wide receiver/tight end

Entering his fourth year as a starter, Hunter Klingensmith is expected to be one of the team’s biggest contributors at wide receiver. Jordan Lanue is poised to be a difference-maker at tight end. The 6-4 Lanue will be a big target down the middle of the field.

“He’s a good target; good hands, speed, strong. We are looking to use him a lot this year,” Wyzik said.

Zach Bohnet will also be in the mix at tight end.

Linebacker

Ben Gatesman was the team’s second-leading tackler last season. He returns for his senior campaign at middle linebacker. Bohnet is also a returning starting linebacker and is expected to play in the middle and outside. Senior Matt Czupryna is also a returning starter.

Secondary

Klingensmith and Daskam are set to reprise their roles as the team’s starting corner backs this season.

“They are two of the best, I think, in the league,” said Wyzik.

The free safety position is vacant and will be filled toward the end of preseason camp.

Belchertown

COACH: Ed Wyzik, third year

LEAGUE/DIVISION: Intercounty South/7

LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 7-4

LAST TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE: 2012, beat St. Joseph’s 26-0 in Division 3 Western Massachusetts Super Bowl

RETURNING STARTERS: Seniors – Hunter Klingensmith, WR/S; Cal Daskam, RB/WR; Ben Gatesman, G/OLB; Curtis Walther, OT/DT; Matt Czupryna, LB; Zachary Bohnet, LB/TE; Juniors – Owen Sedlacek, DE; Hunter Englert, OT/DT

RETURNING PLAYERS: Seniors – Juadel Fuentes, RB/LB; Ryan Wawro, WR/S; Chris Merullo, WR/LB; Cameron Otto, QB/S; Juniors – Dillon Sousa, DE/TE; Nolan Cowes, OG/NG; Christian Botari, WR/DB; Rory Knee, OT/DT; Sam Winston, RB/DB; Jake Delaney, OT/DT; Timmy O’Connor, OG/NG; Tyler Laramee, WR/DB; Chris Greene, C/DT; Sophomores – Aiden Day, OL/DL; Lila Roberts, RB/LB; Sam Prefontaine, RB/DE; Bryson Weagle, WR/DB; Dominic Wysocki, WR/DB; Tyler Jewell, TE/LB; Vinny Martell, RB/LB; Timmy Mitas, OL/DL; Francisco Marrero, TE/DE;

NEWCOMERS: Seniors – William Melendez, OL/DL; Juniors – Leo Roberts, OL/DE; Jordan Lanue, TE/DE; Sophomores – Chazz Moses, WR/DB; Keoni David, RB/OLB; Kyle Boryczka, QB/DB; Braden Langlois, TE/DE; Nolan Otto; Erik Manger, OL/LB; Freshman – Tyler Eldridge, QB/DB; David Kapinos, OL/DL; Lucas Dauplaise, RB/DB; Connor O’Brien, OL/DE; Alex Brennan, OL/DL, Ryan Murphy, OL/DL

OUTLOOK: After missing the playoffs in 2018, the Orioles are motivated to get over the hump in 2019. New starting quarterback Cameron Otto will have plenty of options passing the ball with wide receiver Klingensmith and tight end newcomer Lanue lining up on the outside. The team’s secondary is poised to be a strength for the team this season.




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