Falcons on guard against mental gaffs

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Jim Esposito’s message to his Bishop Ford football team has centered around focus and remaining upbeat.

Too many times last season the Falcons allowed mental errors to turn potential victories into losses and make close games lopsided.

That brought with it plenty of frustration.

Ford was 2-8 last fall, good for last place in the CHSFL AA-A division. It lost games by six points or less to St. Peter’s, Christ the King, and Cardinal Spellman.

“I just think it’s about attitude, just staying positive and just putting last year behind us,” Esposito said.

What’s ahead is a season in which they will feature a talented and athletic squad rife with potential, starting with fullback/outside linebacker Tim Wade.

The three-year varsity starter, who played quarterback as a sophomore, rushed for more than 800 yards and found the end zone 10 times last season. He is an elusive ball carrier who has a nose for the football on defense. The move from outside to inside linebacker should enhance his effectiveness because he will go against players close to his size at 5-9, 189 pounds.

“He doesn’t have tremendous speed, but he gets the job done,” Esposito said.

Wade will be taking handoffs from quarterback Anthony Esposito, no relation to the coach. The junior was the starter on the junior varsity last season. He has impressed thus far with his toughness, command of the offense and has exhibited a solid arm in addition to his ability to make plays with his feet.

Ryan Ross should be one of his main targets on offense. The senior wide receiver/corner back is an excellent route runner with good hands. Tom Macca, a 6-foot-2, 265-pound senior, will anchor an inexperienced offensive line at left tackle. Devon Mitchell, up from the JV, also will see some carries.

“I think it is going to be a really dynamic offense because all of us can take it to the house on any play,” Wade said.

The player Esposito seemed most excited about is Steven Browne, who will play cornerback and see some time at running back. The coach called him one of the quickest players he has had and noted his excellent instincts and ability to cover. Brown doesn’t want to think of himself as anything special just yet.

“I am just a piece,” he said.

The Falcons also get defensive end Andre McNeil back from injury. The 6-foot, 240-pound junior dislocated his knee in an early-season game against Xavier last year and missed the remainder of the campaign. McNeil’s size and athleticism along with his football IQ make him a force up front.

“He knows all the plays, even the plays that have nothing to do with him,” Wade said.

The talent is there for the Falcons to have a much-improved season compared to a year ago. Changing their misfortune will likely mean adopting the approach Esposito is preaching.

“We could be real good or we could be really bad, too,” Browne said. “We just have to focus.”

Updated 3:41 pm, October 19, 2011
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