Batman has the Joker, Superman has Lex Luther, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have the Shredder. The Sawyers of Saugerties have the Raiders of Red Hook.
But Lee Meisinger, head football coach, and Mike Story, head coach of the girls’ soccer team, say this year will be different.
Meisinger and his young charges will be able to make good on that vow right off the bat, as they face the Raiders in their first game of the year, Sept. 7.
Story will have to wait several games before facing off with Red Hook.
Last year, the football team closed out its season with a loss to Red Hook 22-6.
The rivalry is so strong between the two schools that even though practice for the fall season only began last week, coaches are already getting their teams “up” to play Red Hook.
“We play Red Hook early on, and we’ll be ready for them,” Meisinger said.
One of the benefits of playing the Raiders early this year is the team will be fresh. Last year, a slew of injuries to the team’s dominant players left the Sawyer ranks depleted. During the year, the team went through six quarterbacks, including one who hadn’t played the position since he was a little kid.
This year, like last, they will start with junior Randall Lewellyn. Last year, he was sidelined by two concussions and an injured shoulder.
Asked why he would come out for the team again this year after getting his senses scrambled twice last year, Lewellyn, a tough kid, said, “Because I like to hit. I like the fact that it’s a rough game.”
Lewellyn will be looking to pick up where he left off last year, hooking up with his favorite receiver and the team’s best pass catcher, senior Lukas Gran.
“If everyone stays healthy I’ll just have to focus on playing two positions,” Gran said with a smile.
Because of a rash of injuries last year, Gran played quarterback as well as wide receiver. This year, he hopes he will only have to play wide receiver on offense and strong safety on defense. He’ll also return kick-offs.
“We have a lot of new guys who will have to step up and play well,” Meisinger said.
Like last year, many will have to play on offense and defense like Gran does.
“We’re going to get them in shape and get them out there,” Meisinger added.
Meisinger is expecting good things from newcomer Jared Raymond, who will be the team’s featured tailback, and Cody Sprance at fullback.
“This year I want to see us have a winning record, and make the playoffs,” Meisinger said.
And it all begins with Red Hook.
Talk to Mike Story of the girls’ soccer team, and you get, ahem— the same story as Meisinger.
The Lady Sawyers lost to cross-river rivals three times last year, each by a narrow margin; the last one was an overtime loss in the Mid-Hudson Athletic League semi-finals.
Story said he’s counting on his seniors to remember what happened in those games and motivate the younger girls to turn those losses into wins.
The team lost five seniors to graduation last year. This year it has seven seniors, five juniors and seven sophomores.
“We have a talented group this year, but the pressure of beating Red Hook will fall to the seniors,” he said.
Other rivals include New Paltz, Wallkill, and FDR; all should be beatable.
Senior Jessa Chargois is the only goalie that Story has. In a pinch, the team will look to standout JV keeper varsity Bailey Dunn if needed.
In addition to Chargois, Story will be counting on seniors Tori Sperl, Shannon Averill, Veronica Rell, Elizabeth Westwood, Emily Smedek, and Rebecca Veltrie.
Veltrie, the team’s top defender, said she believes this is the year for the Lady Sawyers. “Most of us have been playing together since we were in fourth grade, we know what each of us can do. Now we just have to step up and take control.”