Saturday September 21, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Quarterback Tyler Gaglia and Frontier will travel to Lockport on Saturday for a Class AA showdown with the 2-0 Lions. (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Frontier knew it would be embarking on somewhat of the unknown when it sized up a Week Three test at Lockport.
Not only was it rare in prior seasons that the two football teams meet, Lockport also presents a challenge with its spread offense and many weapons. Formerly in two separate Class A divisions — Lockport in the North and Frontier in the South — the two teams drew each other on the schedule this season with the classification combining into one division.
If the Falcons thought they were unsure of Lockport at the start of the season, the unknown factor increased even further with what’s happened to the Lions over the first two weeks of the season.
Lockport lost to injury one of Western New York’s top quarterbacks in three-sport standout Dan Bronson in Week One, but held on for a season-opening victory, before pulling off the biggest upset of the young season in knocking off state finalist Orchard Park last week.
So, although the Lions had to go to wide receiver Tyler Fraass to fill the starting quarterback role, they were still able to run their spread offense in the pistol formation effectively enough to score a 33-27 win.
One thing is for sure for Frontier, head coach Tim Myslinski said his team will be playing a Lockport group riding high going into Saturday’s Class AA showdown between a pair of undefeated teams starting 2 p.m.
“Going into the game with what had just happened, I think O.P. thought they’d run over them, but it’s a testament to Lockport’s coaching staff for a great gameplan,” Myslinski said. “I don’t expect anything different from them this week. They’re probably taking a thousand reps in preparing for what we do, and that offense puts their athletes in space and they know how to get them the ball.”
Frontier has been no slouch itself this season, following up a 38-12 win over Clarence by defeating Niagara Falls 24-6. The Falcons ran for over 200 yards in consecutive games with their option offense.
The run game has been led by tailback Cameron Coon, who ran for nearly 200 yards and racked up three touchdowns in the opener and followed that up with another three scores and 146 yards against Niagara Falls. Kenny Kahler is also a capable fullback, who, like Coon, is a three-year varsity player.
Quarterback Tyler Gaglia, a first-year senior starter at quarterback, hit his top target Ricky Fitzgerald three times for 21 yards against Niagara Falls. Gaglia also ran the ball well in Week One, but led a more pro-style I-formation offense in adjusting against the Falls. Myslinski stressed the importance of being able to adjust to what the defense is giving his team.
“They’re going to need to stop our option,” Myslinski said. “Typically, what can happen is that the boys are not on the same page or our opponent may have done something with a different defense to stop us. Once we figure out what they’re doing, we can block another way and change our scheme…You can go in thinking you’re going to throw the whole playbook at them and then may not wind up running that much of it.”
On defense, the Falcons have done their share of adjusting, going from opposing a double-wing, double-tight offense in Clarence to a Niagara Falls that ran its own version of the pistol, though not as effective as what Myslinski expects to see against Lockport. In the latest win, senior linebacker AJ Licata led Frontier with 12 tackles, including two sacks, while Kevin Hamilton added eight tackles and three sacks.
“Each opponent has been different so far,” Myslinski said. “We’ve got to treat each week differently and adjust appropriately, and I think the boys are on board with what we’re doing."
With conditions expected to be chillier and rainy, Myslinski is hoping his team will not only be the physical aggressor on a soggy field, but also win the mental game.
“I want them focused on the bus and when we step on to the field,” Myslinski said. “It’s going to be a really close game so I’ve told the kids that mentally they’re going to need to be in the game. I think it’s going to come down to the final quarter, maybe the last possession.”