Friday September 6, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
LOOKING FOR AN OPENING — Junior Mark Myles will be returning to the Hamburg backfield after seeing some varsity action in 2012. Photo by Ron Larson.
Hamburg may not feature a team with a plethora of recognizable faces to those who follow Western New York high school football, but there appears to be more depth to choose from at each position than in recent years.
With a number of players who saw some action last year returning to the varsity and a bunch of youngsters moving up from a junior varsity that enjoyed a successful 2013 campaign, new head coach Pat Cauley feels he has some options on this roster.
Now, it’s just a matter of making the pieces fit where they best belong among a roster of 43 payers as the Bulldogs look to bounce back from a 2-7 season in 2012.
“We certainly have more volume of players than we’ve had and have guys committed and working hard,” Cauley said. “We’ve got a lot to clean up, personnel-wise, about who’s going to be where and how we’re going to handle certain things, but we’re moving in the right direction....We’ve got more depth than we’ve had in years.”
The most recognizable of names on this roster will be what Cauley calls a very experienced offensive tackle in senior Jeremiah Bill, who’s a four year-starter and captain. The 6-foot-2 Bill is on many lists as a preseason All-Western New York candidate after a second team all-division season.
“He’s bigger and more physical than he’s been and learning some great technique,” Cauley said, crediting coach Mike Guzda for working with Bill.
Also notable, Cauley calls three-year varsity player Griffin Ryan the Bulldogs’ version of Western New York and New England Patriots standout tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“He makes a lot of plays and has really improved,” Cauley said. “He’s a tough, smart and physical football player.”
Joining the two on the line of scrimmage will be returning starter Joe DeGrood, a junior who Cauley calls a tough and smart player and 280-pound center Will Reczek, who’s up from the junior varsity.
“Those three look very tough up front [including Bill], “ Cauley said noting that the other two spots are still up for grabs in the competition for starting roles.
Senior Colin Daly will take over at quarterback after backing up Luke Kramer last season. But he’s been challenged by junior Alex Suchan throughout training camp.
“Colin looks everyday more like a quarterback,” Cauley noted.
The backfield will have a host of Bulldogs vying for time. Among them are senior Vinny Sardo, who carried the ball a lot toward the end of last season, and junior Mark Myles, who’s shown flashes of his ability at tailback.
Junior Mitch Gomolka may be the team’s fastest back but he went down with a broke collarbone and will miss a few weeks. Also in the mix will be sophomore Mitch Vail and junior Alec Seifer.
Brandon Ryan, another sophomore and the brother of Griffin, has Cauley excited to see what the youngster can do split out wide. Also at receiver spots will be senior captain Joe Wittmeyer, lanky junior Bryce Hite and Ethan Sachse, who’s also got good size and some speed, according to Cauley.
On the defensive line will be Ryan and DeGrood on the outside and Bill and Reczek playing inside, along with some solid depth that will be provided by seniors James Fisk and Evan Earle. Senior Robbie Miller will also play some defensive end.
The linebacker corps will include seniors Ryan Herr and Colton Preischel and a youngster up from the junior varsity in Thomas Coyne, who will play on the outside.
The defensive backfield will feature Wittmeyer, Sachse and Myles, while Suchan will be the free safety and Seifer and junior Tosh Johnson will split time at the strong safety spot.
Sophomore Jason Shuttleworth will take over kicking duties as Cauley tries to solidify his special teams unit.
As Cauley gets ready to close camp and focus on the regular season, he’s happy to see that his first team, while as a head coach, has taken the time to become close with each other and the staff.
“They’re bonding together and I think the coaches are doing a great job,” Cauley said. “They love the kids and I think the kids love the coaches and that’s always a positive thing.”
While there is an interest in how the division will play out — with some new faces in the South as Class A goes from two to three divisions, Cauley’s focus remains on Week One with a game against an established program in Grand Island.
“They’ve got a great coaching staff and we have great respect for them, but we’re excited for that opportunity come Sept. 6,” said Cauley, of the out-of-league contest with the Vikings, who reside in the Class A North Division. “That’s going to be one heck of a challenge for us.”Hamburg At A GlanceHead Coach
Pat Cauley (1st season)2012 Overview
Overall: 2-7, Class A South: 2-4, finished sixth of eight teams in division. Postseason (missed the playoffs).League All-Stars Lost
Kyle Brown (OL/DL), Luke Kramer (QB), Kyle Violanti (WR/CB), Wes Riley (OL/DL), Craig Mikida (WR), Josh Bennet (FB/DE). The Skinny
There is a great deal of unknown in Hamburg this season with a new coach and a deeper but less experienced roster. The Bulldogs could have a chance to thrive in a division up for grabs.2012 Results
Aug. 31 at South Park L 18-6
Sept. 7 vs Will. South L 35-20
Sept. 14 vs Lake Shore W 28-7
Sept. 22 at Bennett W 28-12
Sept. 28 vs W.S. East L 34-14
Oct. 5 at Iroquois L 29-22
Oct. 12 vs Frontier L 49-20
Oct. 20 at Will. North L 25-18
Oct. 24 at South Park L 28-82013 Schedule
Fri., Sept. 6 vs Grand Island 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 13 at Hutch tech 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 20 at Lake Shore 6:30 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 27 vs W. Seneca East 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 4 at Iroquois 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 11 vs South Park 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 18 at Frontier 7 p.m.