‘Red-headed step child’ no more: FDR moves up to top division

Paul Klyap didn’t want to move Franklin D. Roosevelt up to the City Championship division because of what the Cougars did last year, their first in the Bowl. FDR was just 5-4 and didn’t make the playoffs.

No, Klyap’s infant program has gone from 1 to 3 to 5 in three years because he’s sick and tired of city coaches downgrading teams in the lower levels.

“The 1s get no respect from the rest of the coaches,” he said. “There are good 3 teams, but it’s the same thing. I’d rather take my lumps as a 5 and say that we dealt with the best. … You don’t get any all-city kids [in the lower levels] regardless of how good they are. Unless they change the system, this is what we’re gonna do.”

Klyap, who called the teams in the Cup and Bowl divisions “red-headed step childs,” isn’t sure what this season will bring for his budding program. FDR doesn’t have the depth it has boasted the last two years, so everyone will have to go both ways. The coach says the season will depend on the Cougars staying healthy.

“I think we’ll be competitive,” he said. “I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”

Eric Philippeau returns and will play quarterback. The versatile senior did a little bit of everything for FDR last season and toward the end of the season was the team’s full-time signal-caller. Oscar Key, one of many backs used in FDR’s run-happy scheme in 2009, will be back and should get the most touches with the graduation of Bryan Joseph. Phillippeau will be likely throwing to wide receiver Byron Norman often.

How well those solid skill players do depends heavily on the offensive line, which Klyap describes as “inexperienced” and “raw.” That unit will be led by two-way tackle Randy Louisdor. Big bodies like Oleh Basistyy and Mohammad Mohjazi (6-2, 280) are expected to round into form on both sides of the ball.

“I don’t know what we’re gonna get out of them,” Klyap said. “We thought they were gonna be a strength.”

The linebacking corps will be led by Key and Timur Nazarov and Phillippeau is the lone standout in the secondary. Klyap said he’ll know more after a scrimmage against Tilden on Saturday.

“We’re gonna try to run the ball,” he said. “We’re gonna try to control the clock. We’ll see where we go from there. If we can run the ball, I think we’ll be alright.”

It could be a tough year for FDR, but Klyap is adamant that the Cougars will be playing in the City Championship division now and in the future.

“We’re not going down,” he said. “It’s our job to get better.”

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