The wait is almost over.
After an eventful off-season, the Oliver Ames football team will finally kick off its 2011 season Friday night at Medfield for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The Tigers are coming off a 4-6 season in 2010 where they also finished tied with Foxborough and Stoughton atop the Davenport Division. This year, the winner of the Hockomock small will earn a berth in the state playoffs.
With a strong senior class, the Tigers will rely heavily on their upperclassmen, including captains Alex Tepper, Dean Soucie, Brian Rezendes, Brian Crosby and Jacob McDougall.
Under new head coach Erik Ormberg -- who replaces Mike Slason after six seasons -- Medfield, like OA, will lean on its experience in 2011. Led by seniors Alex Opiela (quarterback/defensive back), Ife Adebayo (lineman) and Sam Tawa, the Warriors, who went 5-6 last year (4-5 Try Valley Large) return 14 starters (8 offense, 6 defense).
Before they begin league play against Franklin in two weeks, head coach Jim Artz and company will look to get off to a fast start against Medfield and North Quincy next Friday at Muscato Stadium. Although Artz viewed both games as warm ups, there’s no secret that the Tigers will want to get off to a quick start and establish some momentum before the schedule turns over.
For now, let’s take a look at the keys to OA’s first game of the season.
Minimize in-game adjustments
It’s no secret that any football team wants to get off to a slow start to start the season. Although this is a non-league game for both teams, neither team will want to come out flat out of the gate.
As is the case with any game, both teams will have to make some adjustments during the course of the contest. However, the team who has to make adjustments early might find themselves falling behind quickly.
Win the time of possession battle
Senior quarterback Jared Schneider, who replaces last year’s starter and co-captain Mitchell Johnson, will get the call for the first time as the Tigers’ signal caller. With a reliable receiver in Kirk Schuster-Southern and a good mix of Sam Langston and Carlton Williamson at running back – replacing the void filled by Joey Gizzi - OA has the chance to chew up the clock and put Medfield at a disadvantage.
Generate more turnovers
Both teams are breaking in new quarterbacks to start the season. Therefore, both Opiela and Schneider could potentially be subject to mistakes early on. Whoever wins the turnover battle could dictate the tempo of the contest.