NEWPORT–From the on-field action to the man running the ship, the 2012 North Country football team will have a new look and feel to their program.
Gone from the team is the legendary Bob Davis, who retired after a spectacular run as the head coach of the Falcons.
With him goes the traditional option-based offense that has been the calling card of the program for years.
Also missing will be the class of 2011, a crew of nineteen talented players that were the backbone of the team's undefeated regular season.
Leading the helm this year is long time assistant coach Tim Simoneau, who is ready for the challenges of being the man at the top.
"There are definitely some big shoes to fill, but I am enjoying it," said the new coach. "We have a good bunch of kids and it should be fun."
Said assistant coach Lonnie Wade, "Tim brings a lot enthusiasm and is very well organized. He is excited to say the least about what he is doing."
Simoneau is still molding his philosophy, but believes strongly that football is a fun game that has a lot of life-lessons within in it.
With the change at the top, their will also be some changes on the field, starting with the offense.
Taking over from Tre Sanville is senior Jason Hatin. Last season he was listed as a tight end and linebacker, and while he may still see some time on the line on defense, he will be under center when the offense hits the field.
On taking over as quarterback Hatin replied, "It feels pretty good. It is a big responsibility, but I am going to try to step and do my job."
Said Simoneau, "Jason is a good athlete, and it (the offense) is a change from last year when we did the triple-option, as now we are doing the shotgun triple option, which is similar, but everything comes out of the shotgun and the ability to read the defense from four yards out."
The weapons that Hatin will be looking for will be led by Jacob Buckles, who Wade believes is one of the better skill players in the state.
The former QB will now be on the receiving end of the pass, and no doubt will get a lot of looks this season.
"The skill positions are still there. We still have Jason and Jacob, and we are going from being a power team to a team that can throw the ball all over the field," said Wade.
Aidan Smith, Tyler Sanville, and a surprising addition to the team, Caleb Prue, will be some of the names that should get the ball as well, be it on the run or for the pass.
"We have been stumping the wide receivers and slots together. We are doing a some slot formation stuff, so (there is) a lot more motion out of the slots," Simoneau said of the new offense.
It is no surprise that the team is looking to air it out more as they no longer have the size on their line that they did last year when the boys doing the blocking averaged over six feet and two-hundred pounds.
This season’s team is significantly smaller, and Simoneau has faith that his younger, smaller crew will be able to hold up.
"We don't have a lot of size and a lot of things we were able to do in the past we will not be able to do this year, but the kids have looked pretty promising and we have to stay away from injuries and keep everybody healthy."
Said senior Colton White, one of the bigger members of the team, on what the line will give the team, "A lot of hard work. We know we have some big shoes to fill and we are going to our best and put a lot heart into it."
Hatin is unfazed by the size difference from 2011 to 2012 saying, "Obviously we have a smaller line with not a lot of experience, but I feel like we have a lot of heart, we are going to try as hard as we can, and I feel like we are going to be contenders.”
On defense the coach wants an element of surprise coming at the opposition.
"I want to be unpredictable. I want aggressive kids out there, and I want them to hit. Teams didn't like to come North Country, not because of the drive, but because we would bang them up, and that is what I want."
Special teams will see a shake-up, as the two-point conversion that was a main stay may be taking a back seat.
"Obviously we don't have Lance who could kick it a mile, but we definitely have a kicking game. I told Coach Wade that I want to kick an extra point, and I want to do a field goal, which is a bit different from the past," said Simoneau.
Tim knows that this season will not be the easiest one for a coach to come into, but he is optimistic about the Falcons chances this fall.
"I know that things were stacked against me, losing the seniors, and having some issues with grades, but I think putting in this offense was a good thing and the kids have been able to pick it up very well."
The new offense and the rest of the new-look Falcons will be on display this Friday night when North Country opens the season at home against Spaulding.
Kick-off is at 7:00.