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With about 19 players on board as of last week, first-year Alconbury Dragon football coach Duke Eidt said he'll emphasize endurance so that his guys can play both sides of the ball.
With about 19 players on board as of last week, first-year Alconbury Dragon football coach Duke Eidt said he'll emphasize endurance so that his guys can play both sides of the ball. (Geoff Ziezulewicz / S&S)
With about 19 players on board as of last week, first-year Alconbury Dragon football coach Duke Eidt said he'll emphasize endurance so that his guys can play both sides of the ball.
With about 19 players on board as of last week, first-year Alconbury Dragon football coach Duke Eidt said he'll emphasize endurance so that his guys can play both sides of the ball. (Geoff Ziezulewicz / S&S)
Freshman Ronnie Wilson runs through drills last week at practice for the Alconbury Dragon football team.
Freshman Ronnie Wilson runs through drills last week at practice for the Alconbury Dragon football team. (Geoff Ziezulewicz / S&S)
Alconbury junior Yul McGrath runs through a drill last week at Alconbury High School as line coach Bob Shaw looks on.
Alconbury junior Yul McGrath runs through a drill last week at Alconbury High School as line coach Bob Shaw looks on. (Geoff Ziezulewicz / S&S)

As August draws to an end, summer appears all-too-ready to leave England. Conditions have been cold, cloudy and rainy during what, back in the States, are usually the dog days of summer.

But there is a silver lining. Or a green or blue lining. Or whatever colors your team wears on game day.

Because as the fall comes, so does football.

And the football teams at Lakenheath, Alconbury and Menwith Hill high schools are gearing up to do battle on the gridiron when the season starts in a few weeks.

The schools feature different enrollments, expectations and starting points, but the name of the game is competition. Here’s a look at each team, and what the coaches and players say about their teams.

Lakenheath Lancers: “This team’s got a lot of heart.”

The Lancers won’t be a young team this season. They’ve got a big group of upperclassmen, about 20 seniors and about 11 returning starters, Coach Matthew Martinez said last week as his players roughed out a practice in the cold rain.

“We’re looking at a team that has some more experience,” he said.

Football IQ — almost an intellectual understanding of the game and what needs to be done in the midst of those games — is abundant on the team led by captains quarterback Nate Allison and wide receiver Eddie Alford, Martinez said.

The Lancers will look to close out games, and Martinez said he wants to instill that visceral instinct that will make his players seize the game around the throat when needed.

“We’re teaching them to win, and that, if the game is close late in the fourth quarter, we’re still in it,” he said.

Before practice last week, Alford said his team should have an “explosive offense” this year, and that they’ve got a nice, sizeable offensive line.

He also credited the coaching staff.

“They came prepared and ready to teach us,” Alford said.

The squad went 2-4 overall last year, and everyone’s looking up.

“This team's got a lot of heart,” junior wide receiver Eric Douglas said.

Menwith Hill Mustangs: “We’ve got some big, strong players.”

Although small in enrollment and geographically isolated in north Yorkshire, the Mustangs posted a 2-4 record last year and made the playoffs, something coach Peter Resnick said he wants to build on.

“We won a couple games,” he said. “That’s good for Menwith Hill, being the smallest school.”

Resnick said fans should keep their eyes on Robbie Sexton, a 6-foot 4-inch tackle who’s weighing in at about 260 pounds.

“We’ve got some big, strong players,” he said.

Sexton and the rest of the line will be helping clear the way for returning all-conference running back Le’Shawn Adams.

“He’s very strong and very fast and quick,” Resnick said. “He’ll be an excellent back for us.”

Resnick said he’d like to see his defense improve its tackling this year.

“We gave away too many points last year,” Resnick said. “We pop but we’re not wrapping and dropping.”

The school’s isolation means a lot of games on the road, he said, and travel affects preparedness. Still, plane tickets through low-fare airlines are increasingly affordable, Resnick said, which reduces travel time.

“That’s one thing that’s brought us a little closer together,” he said. “Even though we may be isolated up here, we still feel pretty close to the rest of the conference.”

Alconbury Dragons: “We’re a young team.”

Duke Eidt is in his first season as Alconbury’s coach. And many of his players are in their first year of varsity football.

“We’re a young team,” he said. “Right now I’ve got 10 freshmen out of 19 players.”

Right now the team is looking to make sure it can give everything for four quarters, Eidt said.

“We’re probably going to emphasize endurance more than anything else,” he said.

The size of the squad will dictate that.

“We’re going to be a small team,” he said, adding that most players will see action at numerous positions on both sides of the ball.

“We’ll make sure they’re in good enough shape so that whatever we ask of them, they’ll be able to do,” Eidt said. “We’re going to run full with our offense and defense.”

The Dragons went winless last year, but Eidt said he’s seeing a lot of spirit from this year’s team.

“I have some enthusiastic guys who want to play and want to be out there,” he said. “That’s all a coach can ask for.”

And win or lose, the season and all its possibilities are waiting.

“We’re excited to be competing, and the kids are real excited about the upcoming season,” Eidt said.

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