OLD TOWN – Dan Baker knew the task of rebuilding the Old Town football program would not be an instant fix.
Yet as Year 2 of that effort gets under way, already there has been considerable progress.
The second-year Indians’ head coach, a former Old Town player, had 47 players in uniform during preseason practices, more than double the 23-player roster the team fielded last year.
“Three of the coaches, myself and two assistants, work in the school, so we’ve gotten to know all the kids and spread the word,” Baker said. “We’re still not where we need to be in terms of numbers, but we’re getting there.”
The team is still young, with a small number of experienced seniors on the roster led by two-way tackle Tyler Eastman, a 6-foot-5, 305-pounder who is drawing attention from Division I-AA college recruiters, Baker said.
“He’s one of the most athletic kids on the team, and technique-wise he’s very good,” Baker said.
Several other seniors are playing football for the first time, or at least for the first time in several years.
“They’re more physically mature than some of the younger kids,” Baker said. “They just need to learn the game.”
There’s also the case for David Johansson, a 6-1, 220-pound exchange student from Sweden who is new to high school football but has played in a Swedish men’s league for the past four years.
But the Indians also are counting on their depth in the junior, sophomore, and freshman classes to provide much of the foundation for the continued growth of the program.
“We’ve really got some solid classes coming up,” said Baker.
The junior and sophomore classes will play key roles for the Indians this season. Junior tight end-defensive end Travis Shaw and junior fullback-linebacker Jared Goody will share the captain’s duties with Eastman and sophomore Jarrett Lukas, a second-year starter at quarterback who completed 60 percent of his passes a year ago.
The increased numbers not only should benefit the Indians on game day, but also during practices.
“It makes it easier to motivate players to give 110 percent if they know that someone is breathing down their neck for playing time,” said Baker. “With so few players last year, it wasn’t like that.”
The Indians hope to transform their numerical growth and renewed enthusiasm into quantitative success on the field.
“We want to get some wins this year,” said Baker. “If we can get a few wins under our belt and be competitive, we’d be happy.”
OLD TOWN INDIANS
2003 results: 0-8, ninth in PTC Class B
Head coach: Dan Baker, 2nd year
Key players: Tyler Eastman, Sr., OT-DT; Matt Boobar, Sr., TE-DT; Travis Shaw, Jr., TE-DE; Jared Goody, Jr., FB-LB; Jarrett Lukas, Soph., QB-DB; Troy Niles, Jr., TB-LB; Wes Comeau, Soph., TB-CB; Nate Emerson, Soph., G-LB; David Johansson, Jr., C-DT
Outlook: The season is already a success in some respects, with the Indians fielding twice as many players as they did a year ago. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Eastman anchors a big line that will look to stuff the run defensively and provide protection for sophomore QB Jarrett Lukas. Old Town will shift to the I-formation on offense and try to use its size and strength up front to develop a consistent running game.