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NT Has Depth on the Court

Depth is a magical word. It will always make any high school coach smile.

North Tonawanda boys’ volleyball coach Luke Hodgson is definitely smiling these days. Though the Lumberjacks come into the new season having lost two top flight starters in outside hitter Victor Willison and setter Josh Mahoney, who averaged 45 assists a game last season, they do return four core players that are all chomping at the bit to make an even bigger impact in the program.

Seniors Jordan Fox , Collin Rambler (libero), Alex Morgan (libero) and Brandon Casterline all return with the mission to make this season a memorable one. “This is their time to shine,” Hodgson said.

To help fill the holes in the line up the Jacks will look at three JV call ups Trevor Book, Alec Roy and Mike Krawczyk, with the latter two competing for the role of starting setter. When it’s all said and done Hodgson believes he can go 10 deep into his line up and not have to worry about any significant drop off in talent.

“It’s a good problem to have,” the coach said. “There are guys who have played club. Who have played for me for three or four years, there’s a lot of those guys, then the athletic talent. Trevor Book and Alec Roy up from JV. They don’t have the experience at the varsity level, but with the raw athleticism they’ll be able to pick it up. So really, we’ve got eight, nine, 10 guys who without batting an eye could find time.”

The depth is not only a nice option in terms of roster shuffling, it also keeps players on their toes in games and practices, knowing that if they get complacent they could easily be replaced on the depth chart by someone who is out working them.

“Our thing this year is we want to be able to push each other so that no matter who is in there we trust that they are going to get the points,” Hodgson said. “So it’s not a huge drop off. It’s not any kind of drop off. These guys challenge themselves so that if they can’t go for one reason or another they know they’re friend, and they’re all friends, they all hang out together, will be able to do it. It’s a nice team atmosphere to have.”

While Hodgson is obviously counting on every player to raise his level of play he feels that Casterline, who can play virtually anywhere, is the X-factor who can have the biggest impact.

“I know for a fact that he felt a little slighted in the (NFL) all star vote,” Hodgson said.

“He’s been on the cusp of first team and I think that made him more ambitious, more focused on being an all-around player. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes a lot of people eat their words at they way they looked at him in years past.”

Casterline, though diplomatic in his choice of words, clearly has a chip on his shoulder and is ready to prove his worth to those who doubted him.

“I’m real excited,” Casterline said. “I feel like I’m just going to do whatever I can in any position he puts me in and work hard, I guess, to get a ‘dub’.”

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