There are some observations that can be made after just two practices. The Castleton University football players reported to camp Sunday and practiced Monday and Tuesday. “Our returners came back in very good shape across the board,” coach Tony Volpone said following Tuesday’s practice. He couldn’t say the same thing about the class of 2022. Some of them came to camp in great shape but many did not. That’s not unusual. “They don’t have any experience with what we do here or with the tempo that we do things,” Volpone said. “But they are given everything (for summer conditioning). Some of them followed it, but not all of them.” Volpone is pleased with members the new class that did report in shape, many of whom are offensive linemen. “Our new offensive linemen are in pretty good shape and they understand what we are trying to do,” Volpone said. The new players on the defensive side have not been as impressive as a group, but some of them have stood out including Burlington’s Brody Snow. Snow had one of the best defensive statistical seasons in Burlington High history last year with 70 tackles, including 16 for a loss. The defensive lineman also blocked two punts and broke up seven passes for the Seahorses. Other freshmen catching the staff’s eye on defense are lineman Joe Efstratios and linebacker John Urrico. The Spartans will have the Green & White scrimmage on Aug. 25 and open the season Aug. 31 at home against MASCAC champion Plymouth State. There were 133 Spartans reporting to camp. That’s on the high side in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference. Anna Maria brought in 140 and Husson 125. Elsewhere in the ECFC: Alfred State had 100 report, SUNY Maritime 110, Dean 90 and Gallaudet 79. Anna Maria’s freshman class was an eye-popping 90 strong. ——— It was evident from 2008, the year before the Castleton football program played its first game, that the area of New York State known as Section II would be an important component of the Spartans’ recruiting plans. One of the first things the school’s first coach Rich Alercio did was get in his car, with assistant Marc Klatt in the passenger seat, and visit around 10 Section II schools in one trip, including Fort Edward, Mechanicville, Stillwater and Hudson Falls. Ordering a chicken salad sandwich at a sidewalk cafe in the middle of this blitz, Alercio referred to Section II as the program’s backyard. Alercio did well there, pulling in a good number of standouts including Rensselaer’s Shane Brozowski, who wrote the school record book for quarterbacks, and Fort Edward’s Tyler Carpenter, who rushed for 2,781 yards and 50 touchdowns from 2009 through 2012. It has been no less important for Volpone and his staff. He’s done well in the piece of New York State closest to CU’s campus. Just for this year’s freshman class he has pulled in the likes of Guilderland’s Arthur Stott, South Glens Falls’ Zach Nolan, Hoosic Valley’s Trever Rose, Rensselaer’s Ivan Jerome, Schuylerville’s Tom Donovan and Averill Park’s Dominick Law. But now there could be a full-scale recruiting war in Section II with Pennsylvania’s Keystone College starting a football program and coming aboard as the ECFC’s newest member in 2020. Head coach Justin Higgins is a graduate of Warrensburg High, a school in the northern tier of Section II. His only assistant at this point is Dominick Guglielmo, a Glens Falls High product. Yes, another Section II school. “I am sure we will be going head-to-head for some players,” Higgins said of the recruiting competition with Castleton. Keystone is in a great football state and it is near Scranton, a strong football area. Still, you always go back to your roots. It should all make for an outstanding rivalry between the Spartans and Giants, on the field and in all the cities and hamlets throughout the Adirondacks. ——— You might expect Husson to throw the ball a bit more this year now that All-American running back John Smith is gone. A key weapon in that passing game could be Aidan Hogan, the big tight end from North Country Union High School. Husson visits Castleton on Oct. 27. Follow Tom on Twitter @RHSportsGuy  

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