Thursday, August 21, 2014

Uno En Uno with: Ryan Baker

ZS: How do you describe your excitement and emotions heading into this season, being a senior now having that varsity experience factor under your belt?

RB: I honestly can say that I’ve never been more excited for anything in my life. Most people would think that my favorite sport is lacrosse, but they couldn’t be more wrong. It is 100% football. Knowing that this is my last season strapping my pads up, it really helps myself and the other seniors to really get fired up and lead by example for the others.

ZS: Last year, you were among three potential candidates for the starting QB job. You had to fight your way through, you had to platoon at one point. What aspects of your game have improved. In which ways have you prepared for an enhanced role?

RB: Knowing that I’m the number one guy really has boosted my confidence. My throwing game is definitely the aspect that has increased drastically. So, be prepared for some deep balls thrown.

ZS: You’ve been airing it out a lot more. Even during lacrosse season, when you guys were in between state playoff runs, you found some time to sling it. How much time did you commit the off-season to sharpening up your arm and developing into a deep ball threat and what steps did you take to make the transition?

RB: My boys and I would always be throwing during lacrosse season. Whenever we had time off on the weekends, or even after practice, we would go out to the turf and just throw. Getting a little bigger is definitely a reason why my arm has increased as well.

ZS: Of course, the focus is always on the opponent that particular week. Still, the beef will be cooking for Week II, when you guys renew the border town rivalry with Somers. What’s your thoughts/emotions on that game, if you could think that far ahead now?

RB: Obviously our focus has been Eastchester all summer, but the atmosphere during Week II will be insane. Ever since we were little, we’ve had beef with Somers in all sports. They’re the two time defending Section 1 champs, coming to our house. It will get rowdy.

ZS: Who is expected to step into more pivotal roles, filling the gaps? Who will seize the leadership reins for this youth-laden squad?

RB: Recently we named two more captains, Ryan Brandt and Mike Dedvukaj. So now the captains are those two, Richie Campanaro, Dan Delbene, Tim Forbes, and myself. All of us have really taken on the leadership roles but all the seniors are respected.

ZS: You guys survived on speed last year with yourself, Eric Meyreles, Nicky Bonitatibus, and Kris Alvarado. Should we expect much of the same this season, hellfire speed from small but shifty backs?

RB: No doubt, you should expect the same exact thing. Nicky Santavicca, Scott Weaver, Jose Boyer, and myself will bring the same exact speed if not more. We also have Ryan Brandt who will absolutely crush you if you try to tackle him. He will be feared by all defenders. Even with all this, we have guys like Timmy Forbes and Mike Dedvukaj, who bring both sped and the ability to bulldoze you.

ZS: Any particular pre-game traditions or methods to get hyped?

RB: I have to have my Subway sandwich before every game. All of us pretty much just get in the locker room hours before the game with our food and just let the DJ’s of the team do their thing.

ZS: Any good beats blaring through your IPOD before the game? You in there bumping the Eminem and Lil Wayne on full blast or what?

RB: Oh, no doubt. I’ve always got that going. Personally, I listen to a variety of music before each game. They could range from Biggie smalls to a country song…

ZS: Who has been the most inspirational figure for you, athletically? Who has played the support role for you these last few years, which saw you become a starting QB and win a state championship and commit to a Division-I lacrosse program in UMBC?

RB: I don’t know if I could choose one person. There are so many people that have made me who I am today which include all my coaches and my parents.

ZS: You had your fair share of doubters last year, folks who said you were too small and wouldn’t be able to withstand the punishing hits. Did that affect you at all, did it supply any motivation?

RB: Of course. Even some college coaches, for lacrosse, wouldn’t give me a chance because of my size. I believe that my toughness and athleticism makes up for it. I probably had the season I did last year because of all the people that said I couldn’t do it. Proving all them wrong definitely felt really good.

ZS: Your parody Twitter account, “Not Ryan Baker,” is quite the entertainment. What’s your thoughts on that? Does it sound like this guy could be mistaken for you in a parallel universe?

RB: It’s probably been a year since that started. Nobody still has any idea who it is running the account. Whoever it is definitely knows me really well and even tweets during some games from The Crop (laughs).

ZS: Yorktown, like many places up North there, has a lot of football players who double as LaXers. How much does that help you guys mesh on the field, especially after winning a state championship together in June?

RB: All of our coaches preach that we should play multiple sports. Winning the state championship was an awesome experience and it really motivates me to experience the same success with my football team even more.

ZS: If you were magically able to pick and choose this team’s legacy, what would you want this team to be remembered for?

RB: Definitely the toughness of our team. And our ability to never give up, facing adversity.

ZS: Goals and aspirations for the season?

RB: We expect nothing less than a section title. Everyone has bought into it and we know that we have to work to achieve it. One thing about our team is that we’re not afraid to work because we know that good things happen in the end.