Going into the 2002 football season, the John Bapst football team considers itself 0-0 – in more ways than one.
The Crusaders of Bangor are seeking a fresh start after two straight winless seasons and a revolving door of head coaches.
Enter Rob Zartarian, who took over the team this summer.
Along with the new coach, a new slate is definitely a theme for Bapst.
“The past three years are out of our minds. We’re a brand new team,” said senior lineman Bryan Adams.
“We have a whole new attitude that we haven’t had in the past few years, and that’s be ourselves, go out and work as hard as we possibly can,” senior quarterback Josh Keefe added.
The Crusaders have a solid nucleus of experienced players, starting off in the backfield with Keefe and senior running backs Pat Healy and Alex Rand.
Zartarian plans to stay with the wing-T offensive formation Bapst ran last year.
“I think we’re comfortable with it,” Healy said. “I think people are going to be shocked by what comes out of this team. I’m very optimistic.”
Healy rushed for 756 yards last year, which was third among LTC Class C backs. Rand chipped in with 656 yards. With Healy and Rand, the Crusaders don’t have to rely on Keefe to throw, but he can if need be: He completed 34 of 88 pass attempts (39 percent) last year.
“I’m quick, but I’d be nothing without everybody else,” said Healy, a four-year starter. “I can throw a juke here and there, but our offense is run by our line for the most part.”
And it’s Bapst’s good fortune that the team has a number of returning players on the offensive and defensive lines.
“As backs we have a lot of faith in our line,” Keefe said. “We know the holes are going to be there.”
Zartarian said his linemen will average about 6 feet, 250 pounds. The top senior returners are Adams, Ross Theriault, and Winn Swanton.
“We have to come together, play as a team, open up holes for the backs,” said the 6-1, 250-pound Adams. “Ross Theriault has been on the line since freshman year and he was in the weight room a lot this summer. Joe Baillargeon stepped into a hole where we lost a guy and he’s going to be key.”
Zartarian was an assistant coach on the team last year and is John Bapst’s wrestling coach, so he knew what to expect from the Crusaders heading into this season.
“They’re a great bunch of guys,” Zartarian said. “Their heads are in the right place, they want to work hard, they don’t care about the past, they know it’s behind them, and we’re building a John Bapst football program starting now.”
JOHN BAPST CRUSADERS
2001 results: 0-9, fourth in LTC Class C North
Head coach: Rob Zartarian, 1st year
Key players: Pat Healy, RB-CB, Sr.; Josh Keefe, QB-S, Sr.; Alex Rand, RB-LB, Sr.; Bryan Adams, C-DL, Sr.; Ross Theriault, OL-DL, Sr.; Winn Swanton, TE-DL, Sr.; Alex Desmond OL-DL, Jr.; Dan Leighton, OL-DL, Jr.
Outlook: The Crusaders have about 36 players out this year. Zartarian had just six weeks to put together the football program and coaching staff, which now includes former Bangor High standout Dan O’Connell. The Crusaders will stick with last year’s 4-4 defense, but will look to improve after giving up an average of 329.6 yards per game, including 7.3 yards per rush.