Friday September 6, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
FIRST-YEAR COACHES — Pictured above top, first-year head coach Drew Takacs addresses his Lake Shore team during the first week of practices. Directly above, Pat Cauley looks over some of his talent at Hamburg. Photos by Michael Petro.
As two new coaches take to leading their teams into the 2013 season, they’ll be presented with a different-looking division among the Class A format in which their teams will play.
Class A has spawned into the three divisions with the influx of a few additional teams, creating some new competition for Hamburg and Pat Cauley and Lake Shore and Drew Takacs in the South. Both were assistants last season before being promoted to head coaching positions.
Hamburg and Lake Shore remain in the division, along with Iroquois, West Seneca East and South Park. The new addition to the six-team division will be Hutch Tech.
“The division is going to be difficult, everyone should be in it,” said Cauley, who’s also the newly-appointed athletic director at Hamburg. “With the city schools, sometimes it’s hard to tell from year to year. Iroquois is always good; West Seneca East I know that they feel very good about themselves; and Lake Shore, their kids are always sky high when they play us.”
But playing in this division also presents an opportunity for teams that have struggled of late. The three teams that finished above .500 last year — sectional finalist West Seneca East, Iroquois and South Park all lost significant players from their teams in 2012.
“I like our schedule; I think it’s fair across the board,” Takacs said. “I’m looking forward to this year. We’ve gone against the Will. Souths and Sweet Homes and when you get buried by them, it kind of gets that kids heads down. I think we’ll compete this year.”
But before either gets too focused on the schedule, they’re trying to hit all of the basics with in the coaches’ first preseason camps.
“We play hard, we play unselfish and we play disciplined football,” Cauley said of what he’s trying to instill. “That’s how we’re going to handle things and how we go about our business. It’s more about these kids and what they can take from this, rather than what the scoreboard says. We’re excited about representing the school and community.”
Cauley also ran for the first time a Purple vs White scrimmage and fundraiser afterward, encouraging football alumni to attend.
While taking care of the many unexpected smaller items that crop up as a head coach, Takacs is also focusing on character development. He realizes times have changed and sometimes a gentler hand is needed to relate to today’s athletes, but he’s also been impressed with how many of them have stepped forward.
“I think you get out of it what you put in and I’m really pushing the character thing with my kids,” Takacs said. “This group really buys into it. We had one small discipline problem so far — with a swear word being used, and one of our guys, was like, ‘Hey, hey, have better character.’ One of my kids actually said that, and I was like, ‘They’re really catching on.’”