Thursday August 30, 2012 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
The 2012 Frontier High School varsity football team includes, from left, first row: Julian Delgado, Alex Colunio, Greg Schmidt, Zach Reese, Joe Aronica, Matt Meek, Tyler McDonald, Tyler Gaglia, Alex Wilcox, Lukas Bartone, Sal Durante, Rocco Russo, Adrian Cannon, Ben Koch, Cameron Coon, Kevin Hamilton and Eric Gottsitine. Second row: William Kirkwood, Ryan Aponte, Brandon Grace, Connor Columbo, Elijah Ricks, John Bushen, Dalton Jarszinski, Alaxander Caggiano, Ryan Harvey, Zach Balzer, Kenny Kahler, Rachel Nosbisch, Kevin LeBaron, Justin DeLaRosa, Nick Puffpaf, Denon Hall, Andrew Simpson and Jessie Czurniak. Third row: Tom Amabile, Brandon Wilczeski, Jordan Biggs, Bernie Cuthbert, Brent Sobilo, Sean Minich, Sean Murray, Zach O’Connor, Nathan Clark, Kevin Dulankawicz, Nick King, Kyle Shanley, Paul Brinkel, Ricky Fitzgerald, Kyle Natwora, Alex Licata, Jacob Hurysz and Justin Day. Missing from photo: Dan Dickey, Thomas Krajewski, Zach Loveless and Brandon May.
Frontier is expected to be young, athletic and quick but whether its revamped and inexperienced line can mature quickly enough may be the difference in whether the Falcons can better compete this year in Class AA South.
Typically the strength of a Frontier team, the offensive line returns only one player who was a significant contributor following a season in which the Falcons finished 4-5, missing the playoffs but then winning the Chuck Funke Memorial Bowl Consolation championship.
“This is the most inexperience we’ve had on an offensive line,” Frontier head coach Tim Myslinski said. “It’s usually the other way around for us. But we do have a lot of skill. It’s nice to see these kids making plays and catching the balls in practice.”
Also inexperienced, the defensive line will play a huge role as well in the Falcons becoming more of an aggressive downhill unit in their 3-4 scheme.
“We’ve got some big bodies up front and they can help free up some guys so that we can play an attacking style of defense,” Frontier defensive coordinator Mark Privateer said. “But to do that, the front three has to draw double teams for our linebackers, who are headsy, downhill type players. Overall, it’s a young group, but the kids know how to play and fly to the football.”
What Myslinski and his staff do not have to question is the level of commitment among the largest team, number-wise, since he took over the program from now athletics director Rich Gray three years ago. Frontier will field 56 players on the team to start the season.
“The great thing about this group is that they love football and love to be out there at practice, so I can just coach and not worry about having to keep them interested,” said Myslinski, who’s had many good conversations with his players about football at all levels, especially in talking about the hometown Buffalo Bills. “These guys are intelligent and football savvy. It’s nice to have a group like that.”
Three returning sophomores who played large roles on last year’s senior-laden team are fullback Kenny Kahler, tailback Cameron Coon and wide receiver Adrian Cannon.
Cameron Coon will help lead Frontier's rushing attack when the Falcons start the 2012 season Friday (Aug. 31) at West Seneca West.
Kahler, an All-Class AA South First Team selection, finished just off the team lead for rushing with 510 yards, while Coon showed off his quickness and breakaway speed. Also the team’s punter and kicker, Cannon began to develop into a deep threat on the outside along with being one of the team’s top defensive backs.
Senior Ben Koch takes over behind center for two-year starter Jimmy May and has already exhibited his commitment to this team by holding Sunday practices with teammates during the offseason. He’ll have returning senior center Luke Bartone leading the offensive line in front of him and a big target with good hands in tight end and classmate Bernie Cuthbert.
Myslinski is excited about the potential of sophomore Paul Brinkel, a running back with the ability to also catch the ball out of the backfield. Joining Cannon on the outside will be junior Ricky Fitzgerald, who returned to the Frontier district last year after briefly moving to Florida.
Junior backup quarterback Tyler Gaglia has pushed Koch in practices so far, according to their coach.
Although his offensive line will be inexperienced, Myslinski likes how mean and nasty they have looked so far in practice.
Leading a linebacker-strong defensive unit will be All-Class AA First Team selection Nick King, who recorded a team-high 83 tackles last season. The senior inside linebacker has also gotten much stronger for this year, hitting the weight room hard in preparation for his final season, Myslinski said.
Privateer is hoping the size and strength of senior John Bushen at nose guard will garner double teams and help free up the likes of King at linebacker. At outside linebacker will be junior AJ Licata and Kevin Hamilton, while seniors Luke Bartone and Kyle Shanley should also see time on the inside of the linebacking corps.
Junior transfer Alaxander Caggiano could also give opponents match-up problems at the line of scrimmage and lanky senior Kyle Natwora should make his impact felt as well on the defensive line. Joining the defensive backfield, Ryan Harvey is slated to start at strong safety and Brinkel at free safety, according to Privateer.
“We’ll be aggressive which is what you need in a 3-4 defense,” Privateer said. “We sat back a little too much last year and it hurt us. We’re looking to get back to an attack style defense.”
Myslinski said that hitting the weight room in the offseason was a common theme for most of his players, noting that the attendance for strength and conditioning sessions was tremendous.
“We have good numbers this year and a lot of them are very committed kids,” said Myslinski, whose team won’t be senior heavy but incorporates many players from junior varsity and freshman teams that enjoyed tremendous success last year. “I’m happy with the great enthusiasm and effort I’m seeing come together.”
Last season, Frontier salvaged a 0-4 start to the season with four wins in five games to end the year, including beating rival Hamburg and then winning the Consolation Bowl championship in Class AA. The Falcons suffered through a rash of injuries, which tested their depth.
Higher player numbers for Frontier can only help as it embarks on what is always a difficult league schedule. That slate includes state champion Orchard Park, and large school powers Lancaster, Clarence and Jamestown. Frontier opens the season Friday, Aug. 31 at West Seneca West.Frontier at a Glance
Tim Myslinski (3rd season)
Overall: 4-5, Class AA South: 1-4, finished fifth of six teams in division; Postseason (missed playoffs, won Bowl Consolation championship): defeated Riverside 40-0, defeated Hutch Tech 17-14.
League All-Stars Lost
Taylor Eberl (OL/DL), Jimmy May (QB), Mike Harris (WR/DB), Kevin McGivern (LB), Mike Scinta (OL/DL), Marco Maronski (LB), Ed McGrew (FB/LB), Richard Viggiano (OL/DL).
The amount of youth that Frontier will incorporate into starting roles may make it difficult to beat some of the Class AA South powerhouses, but it should help begin to set the stage for what could be a big 2013 season for the program.
Sept. 2 at Lancaster L 34-7
Sept. 9 vs Clarence L 55-20
Sept. 16 vs Sweet Home L 19-12
Sept. 23 at Orchard Park L 48-14
Sept. 30 vs W. Seneca West W 23-13
Oct. 7 at Jamestown L 52-6
Oct. 14 vs Hamburg W 21-0
Oct. 21 vs Riverside W 40-0
Oct. 27 vs Hutch Tech W 17-14
Fri., Aug. 31 at W. Seneca West 7 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 8 at Riverside 4 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 14 at Clarence 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21 vs Orchard Park 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28 vs Jamestown 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 5 vs Lancaster 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 12 at Hamburg 7 p.m.