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High School Football: Hamburg looks to bounce back playing against rival

Hamburg has relied heavily on its senior quarterback Luke Kramer to move the offense. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Hamburg looks to rebound from yet another second half lapse, which resulted in falling out of the Class A playoff picture after losing 29-22 at Iroquois. Who better to do that against than its rival?

The Bulldogs play host to the 58th annual rivalry game against Frontier on Friday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. Hamburg leads the series 29-26-2, despite the Falcons winning five out of the past six games.

“They know it’s Frontier and it’s a little extra special and motivating, so they’re going to be up for it, especially after last week,” said Hamburg head coach Mike McFadden, whose team fell to 2-4. “This is something that can turn around a season and make it worthwhile.”

But McFadden knows his team will have it works cut out for it. Frontier will be a Class AA playoff team, clinching that spot and improving to 4-2 after a comeback win against Lancaster last week. The week prior, the Falcons knocked off Jamestown, which just comes off a victory over defending sectional champion Orchard Park.

“Frontier is a darn good football team. They play with the big boys and they play well,” McFadden said. “They’re active on both sides of the ball. They can do a lot to opposing teams.”

Hamburg’s biggest challenge may be getting past its own second half inadequacies. In six games, the Bulldogs have only trailed once at halftime, and that was by only 14-7 to unbeaten West Seneca East in Week Five. Yet, Hamburg has lost four of six games and been outscored 118-135 this season.

“We’ve tried to play complete games and tried some different things in the second half of each game,” McFadden said. “We’ve been in every game, but it seems like in the second half, we come out and can’t put anything together. If we played the second half like we’ve done in the first, we would have won some more games.”

In the first 23 minutes against Iroquois, Hamburg built a 22-3 lead behind an eight-yard run from Kyle Violanti, 14-yard scramble by Luke Kramer and a 32-yard interception return from Griffin Ryan. Kramer, Hamburg’s senior quarterback, also hit Violanti and Craig Mikida on a pair of successful two-point conversions.

However, the Matt Keating to Tyler Wilkinson connection began to heat up late in the first half.

The duo hooked up twice for a pair of big gains, including a 32-yard score with 50 seconds left in the second quarter. The two then hooked up two more times for touchdowns of 28 and 14 yards, and Tyler Miller gave the Chiefs the lead for keeps with a 54-yard TD run on the first play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter.

“I give Hamburg a ton of credit. They always are super-physical against us and they were tonight,” Iroquois head coach Keith Marshall said. “And you know what? We showed a lot of guts in the second half.”

McFadden said turnovers, lack of offensive execution and giving the Iroquois’ offense a short field hurt his team in the second half. He also noted that the defense could not get off the field on third downs over the final two quarters.

Hamburg didn’t go quietly and drove to the Iroquois 14 in the final two minutes. But four straight passes fell incomplete, and the Chiefs were able to line up in victory formation as the final seconds ticked away.

“The offense wasn’t able to control the ball as they did in the first half, so the defense was out there on the field a lot,” McFadden said. “We’ve got to be a team that controls the ball; we can’t get in a track meet. If we do, we’ll lose.”

Kramer finished with 189 yards on the ground but the running game continued to struggle for Hamburg. The Bulldogs top two tailbacks, Mark Myles and Austin Bishop, were lost for the season early in the year and since, several different runners have tried to help fill the void. Violanti finished with 39 yards on three catches and Ryan added three catches for 24 yards. Kramer passed for 69 yards.

Junior lineman Jeremiah Bill was among those McFadden praised for his play on both sides of the ball. He finished with four tackles. Leading the defense was Colton Preischel with five tackles.

After leaning on Kramer for most of the season, McFadden knows Hamburg will need contributions from an array of players to be successful against Frontier.

“We’ve been riding our quarterback every game; we’ve got to get some other people involved to win this game,” McFadden said. “Luke will make some plays, but we’ve got to get that from other positions, as well.”

Frontier head coach Tim Myslinski expects to see a determined group from Hamburg, which is also celebrating its Homecoming the week of the game. Though the Falcons have won the rivalry game the past two seasons by shutout, Myslinski remembers how close the first halves were in each of those games.

“That’s a good Hamburg team. They’ve been right in all of their games and we always seem to play each other tough,” said Myslinski, who noted that one of his assistant coaches, Jim Steffen, who lives in the Hamburg School District, has already taken some good natured taunting about the game. “We think the world of Mike McFadden and his staff....and we expect it to be a huge game.”

Bernie Cuthbert came up with a few big catches in Frontier’s come-from-behind win over Lancaster. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Frontier turns to Coon in rallying

The way he moved when the ball was in his hands in the second half, one would never guess Cam Coon almost didn’t play at all in Frontier’s critical division game with Lancaster.

After missing practice all week due to being nicked up in the Falcons’ win over Jamestown last week, the junior tailback played in the first half Friday (Oct. 5), but only on the defensive side of the ball in a must-win game for Frontier’s playoff hopes.

With Frontier already missing starting fullback Kenny Kahler, who sprained his knee last week, the team seemed to need a spark after scoring just seven points in the first half and trailing for much of the game.

Coon would provide that needed lift. He ran for all 71 of his yards and caught two passes for 34 more in the second half, along with scoring both fourth quarter touchdowns in Frontier’s come-from-behind 22-16 win over Lancaster.

“We both looked at each other at halftime. I asked him how he felt and he said, ‘Coach, I’m good.’ And he was good,” Frontier head coach Tim Myslinski said of Coon.

After getting a pat on the back from his coach following the game, the only sign that Coon was banged up was an immediate visit from trainer Tim Williams to inquire how he felt. Coon looked as if he felt no ill effects from the injury as he ran hard throughout the final two quarters.

“We started out slow, but we were able to pick it up and put it all together,” Coon said. “I knew we had to win and I had to do what I could to help. There was no losing this game.”

Frontier survived a scare to improve to 3-2 in Class AA South and secure the No. 3 seed for the upcoming playoffs. Lancaster, which went winless in division play this season but challenged three playoff teams in the past three weeks, led Frontier 16-7 with 11:08 left in the game.

That’s when the Falcons responded. On the ensuing drive after Lancaster made it a nine-point game, senior quarterback Ben Koch hit all three of his passes, including finding Coon on a 38-yarder and later on a six-yard score on fourth-and-goal with 8:24 remaining.

Frontier’s defense got the team the ball back just a few minutes later, setting up an eight-play, 62-yard game-winning drive. Coon ran three times for 37 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown with 1:58 left in the game. Koch hit big senior tight end Bernie Cuthbert on a successful two-point pass.

“The lineman put it together and we had some good play calling to help us execute,” Coon said. “We found something that worked.”

Lancaster controlled the ball and time of possession throughout the first half and then stopped Frontier on its first two second half drives which ended in Redskins’ territory.

The opening drive of the half was halted by an interception by Hayden Schonert at Lancaster’s 10-yard-line. Frontier would have started its next drive on Lancaster’s 33 but a personal foul call pushed the Falcons back 15 yards and resulted in a three-and-out.

“We only had 18 plays in the first half so we didn’t get into a rhythm,” Myslinski said. ‘We were right there in the third quarter but then we did some things to hurt ourselves.”

Schonert scored on a one-yard touchdown, capping a 10-play drive to open the game. After the Redskins came up empty on a 17-play drive after a missed field goal, Frontier put together its only solid drive of the first half, which was capped by Koch’s 14-yard touchdown run, to tie the game 7-7.

A key play on that drive was Koch hitting Cuthbert with a 44-yard gain through the air. Koch finished 8 of 10 for 142 yards and also ran 17 times for 80 yards.

The Redskins took a 9-7 lead into halftime, capping another long 17-play drive, this time by hitting a field goal from 32 yards out. Lancaster took its biggest lead of the game early in the fourth when Kevin Colafranceschi hit Mitch Fuller on a 40-yard touchdown.

Lancaster’s junior quarterback threw for 194 yards, including 116 in the first half, before the Falcons defense allowed only one first down and a single completion over the Redskins final two possessions.

Senior linebacker Nick King finished with 15 tackles for Frontier and moved to fullback late in the game to provide his team with a few battering runs on its scoring drives.

Also in the win, junior linebacker Alex Licata stood out on the defensive side and recorded a sack.

“We gave their quarterback too much time and he picked us apart,” Myslinski said. “We knew how to fix it but we just weren’t able to execute it until later in the game. Lancaster is so well coached and they remind me of us in past years – one of the best teams you’ll see that only wins one or two games.”


Hamburg leads series, 29-26-2

2011: Frontier 21, Hamburg 0

2010: Frontier 28, Hamburg 0

2009: Hamburg 28, Frontier 7

2008: Frontier 25, Hamburg 6

2007: Frontier 44, Hamburg 22

2006: Frontier 27, Hamburg 13

2005: Hamburg 34, Frontier 27

2004: Hamburg 36, Frontier 8

2003: Hamburg 14, Frontier 0

2002: Hamburg 28, Frontier 7

2001: Frontier 27, Hamburg 12

2000: Frontier 26, Hamburg 14

1999: Frontier 21, Hamburg 6

1998: Frontier 17, Hamburg 7

1997: Frontier 32, Hamburg 12

1996: Frontier 18, Hamburg 6

1995: Frontier 21, Hamburg 6

1994: Hamburg 14, Frontier 9

1993: Frontier 17, Hamburg 0

1992: Frontier 17, Hamburg 14

1991: Frontier 14, Hamburg 12

1990: Hamburg 12, Frontier 9

1989: Hamburg 6, Frontier 0

1988: Hamburg 21, Frontier 13

1987: Hamburg 14, Frontier 7

1986: Frontier 21, Hamburg 0

1985: Hamburg 20, Frontier 18

1984: Frontier 27, Hamburg 0

1983: Frontier 6, Hamburg 0

1982: Hamburg 22, Frontier 0

1981: Frontier 17, Hamburg 8

1980: Frontier 15, Hamburg 14

1979: Frontier 16, Hamburg 0

1978: Hamburg 16, Frontier 14

1977: Hamburg 28, Frontier 18

1976: Hamburg 15, Frontier 14

1975: Hamburg 21, Frontier 0

1974: Hamburg 20, Frontier 0

1973: Frontier 10, Hamburg 0

1972: Frontier 26, Hamburg 12

1971: Hamburg 14, Frontier 0

1970: Hamburg 20, Frontier 10

1969: Frontier 25, Hamburg 0

1968: Hamburg 15, Frontier 7

1967: Hamburg 13, Frontier 6

1966: Hamburg 17, Frontier 14

1965: Hamburg 37, Frontier 13

1964: Hamburg 19, Frontier 19

1963: Hamburg 54, Frontier 0

1962: Frontier 19, Hamburg 6

1961: Frontier 13, Hamburg 13

1960: Frontier 21, Hamburg 0

1959: Hamburg 39, Frontier 0

1958: Hamburg 21, Frontier 6

1957: Hamburg 27, Frontier 13

1956: Hamburg 48, Frontier 6

1955: Hamburg 7, Frontier 0


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