By KEN SCHOTT
NISKAYUNA — With less than a handful of seniors on the team, Niskayuna High School football coach John Furey knows this will be a tough season for his Silver Warriors.
The Silver Warriors, who were 2-7 last year, are off to an 0-2 start this season after at a tough 14-10 Class A loss to Bishop Maginn on Sept. 12.
But there is a good future ahead for the Silver Warriors, thanks to the Niskayuna Youth Football program. Furey, in his 20th year as the Silver Warriors’ head coach, believes the players who are learning about football now will help move the high school team in a positive direction when they are ready to begin enter their high school years.
“It’s going to be a tremendous help,” he said. “We had a strong program on the youth level, at one point. And with those teams, the kids were involved, and the parents were involved, more importantly, and they stuck with the program. That’s what we’re trying to produce now, kids and parents who invest in the program, who enjoy spending time with the program and coming up through and sticking with football as they come up.”
Years ago, kids would play more than one sport. But Furey has seen that change over the years, and believes that has hurt the program.
“Our biggest challenge right now is a lot of kids are becoming single-sport athletes and not sticking with football from the youth age up to the varsity age,” he said.
“That’s why we reinvented the program with help of other teams in the area. We no longer have Pop Warner, it’s just youth football. We’re in with Schalmont, Burnt Hills and Colonie, and it’s working out great for us.”
Besides running the high school team, Furey coaches in the youth program.
“We do a lot of things that we do on the varsity level,” he said. “Plus, I’m getting to know them. I think they see me as someone who can help them. I’m establishing a relationship with them. Both of those things are important. It’s important we teach them the things that we’re doing, most importantly, the simple techniques and fundamentals of the game, but also I’m establishing a relationship with them that I hope helps in the future when they say, ‘Hey, I remember playing for coach Furey. I would like to play with him again.’ That’s what we’re trying to achieve here.”
The Silver Warriors take on Gloversville at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 in Gloversville.