Gus Ornstein is excited. Don’t believe it? Just listen to how often the Fieldston head football coach uses the word to describe his Eagles’ upcoming season.
“We have a lot of guys back, and we’re excited about that,” Ornstein said. “We have a really good senior group that is a great bunch of leaders. Kids who have had a ton of playing experience in their careers, and they’re excited to be here, excited to be out there, and excited to be playing football. And I’m excited for them.”
Having a group of seniors like the Eagles have this season is certainly cause for excitement at Fieldston this season. And with veterans playing at virtually every vital position, there’s even talk of the “C” word — as in championship. Pretty heady stuff considering the Eagles are just two seasons removed from a winless campaign.
“I think we can compete for the championship, I really do,” Ornstein said. “That’s our mindset going into the season.”
While the quarterback situation is still being sorted out as juniors Jesse Cooper-Leary and Alexander Thorpe battle for the starting job, seniors pretty much dominate the rest of the starting lineup on both offense and defense.
Bruising running back Josh Godosky will handle the bulk of the ground game while brothers Patrick and Pierce O’Hagan are slotted in at wide receiver and tight end, respectively. Up front, the offensive line also features three seniors in tackles Daniel Wrocherinsky and Noah Gold, with Nick Francoeur — a three-year starter — at left guard.
That’s a truckload of senior leadership.
Wrocherinsky is just a “hard-working, physical, tough kid who will really give us some stability up front,” Ornstein said. “We’re experienced up front, which is awesome.”
But a lot of the Eagles’ offensive fortunes will be placed on Godosky’s shoulders. Ornstein, as expected, is excited to see what he will bring in his senior campaign.
“I tell people all the time, he’s everything you want from a kid and from a football player,” Ornstein said.
“He’s unselfish, he’s a hard worker, dedicated, committed, anything you can think of. A couple of colleges have come in asking about him, and I tell them I’ve never seen a kid who is as talented as he is when the ball is in his hands, but he also doesn’t care if he’s lead blocking or if he’s in pass protection. He’s looking to knock somebody out no matter what his job is.”
Godosky, much like his coach, is more than geared up for his final season at Fieldston.
“I’ve been preparing a lot all summer knowing it’s my last year here, so I want to give it everything I possibly can,” the running back said. “We’ve all played together for so long now that I think we’re going to work really well together.”
One element Ornstein and his Eagles will look to improve upon from last year is how to close out games. Last season several games in which the Eagles were leading in late in the game ended up as defeats, especially against teams from Hackley School and Montclair Kimberley Academy.
“We look back at last year and we look at the Hackley game and we look at the MKA game,” Ornstein said. “If we were able to finish those two games, we win the league. In those two games we had the lead near the end, and we weren’t able to hang on. I loved our heart in those games, but I told the kids, ‘You worked so hard you want to come away with the win.’
“So that is going to be the point of emphasis for us, finishing those kinds of games.”
That was a topic among the seniors even before they hit training camp.
“That’s a huge focus this year,” Godosky said. “That has to be our main thing this year, finishing through everything.”
The Eagles kick off their season Sept. 9 when they host the Hopkins School at 3 p.m., as the quest for a Metropolitan Independent Football League title begins.
“That’s one of our goals every year, but I think it’s realistic,” Ornstein said. “We have the talent to compete with anyone in our league, and it’s a tough league. You have to play week in and week out to compete in it, which is fun. You got to execute, you got to get the job done.
“You’re not just showing up and think you can beat anybody in this league.”