It’s been a turbulent offseason for the Colonie Central football program.
Head coach Bill Roemer was laid off in a budget-cutting move by the school district. Then, Matt Stein — the man tabbed as Roemer’s replacement — left Colonie to become the athletic director at Mohonasen High School. Around the same time, Colonie athletic director Jason Semo departed to become Newburgh’s AD.
That’s when Eric Rouleau stepped into the picture. Roemer’s offensive line coach accepted the position as Colonie’s new head coach several weeks before the start of preseason practices.
“It’s been a crazy year,” said Rouleau. “It definitely wasn’t in my intentions to be in the position I’m in now.”
Rouleau was considered to replace Roemer when the school district decided to cut Roemer’s physical education teaching position. But, Rouleau said he wasn’t ready to assume command of the program at that time.
“When Matt Stein left (for Burnt Hills) and they asked me if I wanted the position, I felt I was mentally there,” said Rouleau. “The bottom line was I wasn’t going to let these kids down. They had already been let down a couple of times, and I didn’t want them to be let down again.”
The program Rouleau takes over is in its own state of flux. Colonie graduated its trio of superb running backs — Devon Edwards, Wayne Burt and Kevon Johnson — and though the Garnet Raiders have quarterback Will McCann back, questions persist about how effectively they will move the ball.
One newcomer who may help Colonie’s offense is tailback Dan Kehrer, who transferred from Christian Brothers Academy for his senior year.
“So far, he’s proven that he wants the ball,” said Rouleau. “He’s done an excellent job of coming and learning our system.”
Kehrer is one of six seniors joining Colonie’s roster for the first time. Before they signed up, Rouleau was looking at a roster with more juniors than seniors. Rouleau said he is still leaning a lot on the Class of 2016 this season.
“I think ultimately, we are a junior starter-heavy team,” said Rouleau.
Having a young team also means ball control becomes important for Colonie.
“I think offensively, we can help (the defense) by controlling the pace of the game,” said Rouleau. “Defensively, we’re keeping things pretty basic for the new guys to help them make the jump to varsity.”
Colonie catches a break to start the season. The Garnet Raiders host Guilderland in a cross-divisional game Friday, Sept. 5. Like Colonie, Guilderland is going through a massive rebuilding process following the graduation of most of its skill position players.
“It’s kind of a good game for us to start out with,” said Rouleau. “I couldn’t expect anything better than to start out with the team that beat us by a field goal in last year’s quarterfinals (38-35).”
Colonie’s first Liberty Division game is Friday, Sept. 19, against Columbia.
Sept. 5 — Guilderland, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 — at Shenendehowa, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 — Columbia, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 — at LaSalle, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 — Bethlehem, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 — Schenectady, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 — at Shaker, 7 p.m.
Associate editor/sports editor