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Hamilton football riding new quarterback into new season

By By BRIAN SANDLER

CLINTON, N.Y. (WKTV) - While most college football teams are already three games into the season, Hamilton College is finally ready for its annual late start with its season-opener this Saturday against Amherst.  And despite suffering several injuries during training camp and having to fill some positions without much notice, head coach Steve Stetson is upbeat about the Continentals' outlook.

"We've [already] lost five for the season," says Stetson, who is entering the fourth year of his second stint with Hamilton.  "But having said that, I'm very optimistic.  I think the team is very optimistic.  The attitude's great, the team has been working very hard, and the talent level is the highest it's been [during his time here]."

One of those players gone for the season is quarterback Jordan Eck, the former New York State Class B player of the year who started as a freshman last season.  Eck underwent an emergency appendectomy right before camp started and responded poorly to follow-up treatment, forcing him to stay home and sit out this season.  So instead, Hamilton will go with another freshman quarterback this year, Dan Peters, and whatever he lacks in experience is made up for in confidence.

"I feel like i have an ability to create some plays," says Peters, who hails from Niskayuna, outside of Albany.  "Even if a play breaks down, [I can] scramble around, maybe make a throw."

Surely those skills will be needed as Peters inherits an offense that has struggled recently and ranked 188th out of 235 Division III teams last year.  But Peters has reason to believe this season will be better.

"We have great receivers, a great line.  I mean, on the offensive side we're a lot more experienced than we were last year, I know that.  So we have a good outlook this year on the offensive side of the ball."

Stetson agrees with the experience angle playing a big role in being more successful this year--in all facets of the game.

"Last year we started so many freshmen in the first game that it was hard to believe.  This year it's only down to three, so that bodes well because we've got people who know our system."

The bulk of those veterans are on the defense, which ranked 48th in Division III last season and returns preseason All-American senior linebacker John Lawrence.  Stetson expects that side of the ball to be solid once again and says it's up to the offense to get the Continentals wins--something they haven't had much of lately with 12 straight years of two or fewer, by far the longest skid in Hamilton's 117-season history.

One thing that should help in the team's effort is a new synthetic grass field that was installed over the summer.  The team can now practice right outside of its locker rooms instead of having to march across campus and can also practice in wet conditions instead of being forced inside due to the cost of field repairs and equipment cleaning.

"It was an inspiration," says Lawrence of the field.  "They had a Webcam up and we looked at it all summer, watching the dirt being put down, the field being put down, the fence being put down, all the stuff.  [It's] just like a motivation for the team, [and] finally getting out here and playing on this field is really something special."

Saturday's kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.

 

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