GLENS FALLS — The Glens Falls Greenjackets will have a mix of youth and experience, and maybe a touch of 1970s pop music going for them, as they begin their semipro football season.
The Jackets open their Empire Football League season Saturday night against Tri-City Spartans of Schenectady at East Field (7 p.m.). The eight-game EFL season runs through Sept. 21, with playoffs to follow.
The Jackets are coming off a tough 2018 season in which they won their first two games, but finished 3-6. Head coach Raymond Swann said the Jackets have the right mix of young and old to make it work.
"We're definitely going to improve on last year," he said. "We've got a lot of speed, a lot of power, a lot of youth. That's what we're leaning on and that's what we're going with."
In the offensive backfield, Tony DeLoatch and Quentin Austin return to go along with newcomer Darius Wicks. Swann said he likes to think of them and Earth, Wind & Fire, and can only hope they take off like the musical group did in the late 1970s.
Jon Hammond of Hudson Falls and Jake Nemec of Warrensburg have been working at quarterback, and it looks like Hammond will make the start on Saturday.
"He brings veteran leadership," Swann said. "He brings a little speed, a little agility to the quarterback position, he reads the football well and he reads the field well."
Kendall Converse, James DeLoatch, Steve Johnson and Nate Brown lead the offensive line.
The wide receivers include Brian Owen, Jordan Charbonneau, Dion Williams and Golden Steele. At tight end is Tony Green, son of the seemingly ageless Greenjackets player of the same name.
On defense, Swann is hoping to stop the running game. That will be especially important this weekend.
"I know Schenectady has a good run game," he said. "Our job is to be able to contain that run game, get a couple of turnovers and see if the ball bounces our way."
The Greenjackets expect to have a strong linebacker core with returning players like Seth Greenwood, Tom VanNess, Ben Pelton and Dom Rivers. The secondary has returning veterans Winston Jackson, Sean Velazquez and Tyler Brown.
The Jackets will play home and away against Tri City and the three other EFL teams this year — Watertown, Plattsburgh and Mohawk Valley. Seaway Valley is taking a one-year leave of absence, leaving two open dates on the Greenjackets' schedule.
The Jackets won their preseason game against the Vermont Ravens, 38-15 on June 22. Swann hopes a year of experience will help Glens Falls get back into the playoff picture in the EFL.
"Last year we were kinda putting people everywhere," Swann said. "This year everybody's been in their positions for more than one year, so we're looking to take off of that."