2017-08-15 / Sports

Dragons back on the field

Defending State Class B champions hit the field
BY BOB CONN
Times Record Staff


BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL varsity football coach Dan Cooper, above, goes over a blocking technique with his Dragons during Monday morning’s first practice of the fall sports season. To the right, Brunswick quarterback Nate Girardin hands off to running back Owen Richardson. 
BOB CONN / THE TIMES RECORD BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL varsity football coach Dan Cooper, above, goes over a blocking technique with his Dragons during Monday morning’s first practice of the fall sports season. To the right, Brunswick quarterback Nate Girardin hands off to running back Owen Richardson. BOB CONN / THE TIMES RECORD BRUNSWICK

Watching his players sweating it out on the first day of practice was a welcome site for Brunswick High School football coach Dan Cooper on Monday.

With a full roster of athletes donned in helmets, spikes, T-shirts and shorts, Cooper first ran his offensive and defensive linemen through an intense morning practice before the rest of the squad joined in on a picture perfect Monday morning for football.

The Dragons, the defending State Class B football champions, were back to work, and Cooper jumped from player to player, patting one on the helmet after a good run, throwing his rear out in demonstrating a blocking tactic with his offensive linemen, and calling plays with both the first-and second-string offenses.

“It is thrilling for me. Football is the end of a long summer for me, and we always look forward to football starting, the best time of the year,” said Cooper, whose squad has two practices each day this week before heading to Turner Saturday night for a scrimmage with Leavitt at 6 p.m. “We want to get the guys mentally sharp, and try to execute when we play that first game.”

This year’s team is far different than the one fans have become accustomed to. Cooper saw more than 20 seniors from last year’s squad graduate, leaving a young team behind. But, the coach was excited to see a team determined to build its own legacy.

“We have some kids that are nervous, knowing that this is their time to shine, and others are kind of in a fog, not knowing exactly what to expect,” said Cooper. “But, there were many others out here that know the routine. One thing is for sure ... they are all ready to go. We are excited to see what this team can do.”


BRUNSWICK FOOTBALL PLAYERS get in a light jog during the opening day of fall high school practices on Monday. 
BOB CONN / THE TIMES RECORD BRUNSWICK FOOTBALL PLAYERS get in a light jog during the opening day of fall high school practices on Monday. BOB CONN / THE TIMES RECORD Brunswick returns just seven seniors this season. Players like linemen Bailey Pelletier and Elijah Gagnon were important parts of last year’s championship squad and both are looking for more this time around.

“We play to win, and we want to keep it that way,” said Gagnon, who plays offensive tackle. “We are going to prepare. It is tough waiting all summer, wanting to get out here and get after it.”

“The first days of practice are always a challenge, and we know that we have to put last season behind us and focus on now and getting better as the season goes on,” added Pelletier, a guard.

Looking ahead

After facing Leavitt on Saturday, Brunswick will have six days to prepare for a home preseason tilt with Class A power Portland on Aug. 25. One week later, on Sept. 1, the Dragons are scheduled to open at home against Class B North rival Messalonskee at 7 p.m. Cooper realizes teams will be gunning for his Dragons, with home matchups against Biddeford (Sept. 8), Skowhegan (Sept. 22) and Mt. Blue (Oct. 13), along with road tilts at Cony (Sept. 15), Kennebunk (Sept. 28), Lawrence (Oct. 6) and Brewer (Oct. 20) sure to test this young Brunswick team.

There are no excuses.

When gathering his team around him as the first morning practice came to a close, Cooper asked one question: “What are the goals?”

To a man, the Dragons yelled out, “Gold Ball!” To say the least, the expectations are certainly high.

“How can it not be?” asked Cooper, whose Dragons have advanced to the state final the past three campaigns, with last year’s 28-6 victory over Kennebunk bringing that elusive “Gold Ball” to Brunswick for the first time in 53 years.

“This senior class is really close, we all hang out together and have fun together. We love football, and we know that this is our team now,” Gagnon said.

“We got after it today and it felt pretty good,” said Pelletier. “We know that we have a lot of work to do, but our goal is to get back to that state game.”

TR coverage

During the opening week of high school football practices, the Times Record sports staff has the following features planned:

— New Lisbon football coach Chris
Kates takes over.
— Mt. Ararat’s Chad Kirk is the man
in charge of Eagles’ girls soccer.
— Greyhound girls soccer has a
new voice in Jennifer Perron.

Make sure you pick up your lunchtime edition of The Times Record Monday through Friday.

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