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Open Mike: Cauley optimistic about Hamburg football, athletic program

Brendan Ryan hauls in a pass during Hamburg\'s 10-7 loss to West Seneca East in front of a large crowd on homecoming weekend. (Photo by Ron Larson)
Pat Cauley’s message to his saddened football team after Friday’s homecoming game loss and the community, as a whole, that came out in droves to watch the competitive 10 – 7 West Seneca East win: Keep the faith.

Cauley has been preaching the same attitude in his work as athletic director. Having taken over the post late last year, Cauley witnessed a state title in softball and three sectional titles from spring sports teams. He aspires for similar success year-round from the school’s athletic programs and he wants to help provide the tools by which to do so.

He said that it is going to take just a little time and some patience. He feels the same about the football program he took over this season.

“We had plenty of opportunities to capitalize on,” Cauley said, about Friday’s loss to unbeaten West Seneca East, “but we’re getting to the point where we’re going to.”

Hamburg has two league games left on its schedule, and even at 1 – 3 against fellow Class A foes, if the Bulldogs can win, an opportunity should still present itself to make the playoffs, a feat that the varsity hasn’t accomplished since 2009.

“We’re approaching the next two games with a lot of opportunity in mind,” Cauley said. “The football gods are asking, ‘How much do you believe?’ We’re getting closer.”

Cauley appreciated the large crowd and the community’s support from the homecoming game. He’s hoping that continues into the team’s next game at Iroquois and that many of the same people who came out Friday will again do the same for the team’s league finale against South Park on Oct. 11.The support is invaluable for the team and helps create a big-time football atmosphere in town.

“I’m saying ‘thank you,’ personally,” he said. “I’m hoping they don’t dismiss us. We’re getting there.”

Although there was some emotion after the game, Cauley is hoping that this kind of effort against a team of West Seneca East’s caliber ignites Hamburg. East had beaten its previous three opponents, by a margin of 133 – 22.

It takes everyone doing their jobs, and doing them well, to stop an offense like that of East’s, which has several different ways and player combinations that can hurt an opponent. In the end, Cauley hopes his team took the positives from the performance and, this time, takes advantage of its chances.

Like their play on the field Friday, the Bulldogs certainly look the part of a sharper team these days, with new uniforms purchased with some extra money left over in last year’s budget. Hamburg is now sporting a sleek black and white jersey/pants combo with purple numbers and trim and a dark helmet with “HHS” and a Bulldog as the centerpiece.

“We had enough equipment, but we needed new uniforms; the other ones were getting very old and outdated,” Cauley said. “They’re sharp and the kids really like them.”

While the football program may have gotten uniforms first, it will be part of Cauley’s mission to continue to upgrade all Hamburg does athletically, including looking into some new duds for other teams. That also includes making other upgrades, such as in the athletic website, he added.

“I want us to be iconic as a program,” Cauley said. “Whether it’s our volleyball, gymnastics or any other team, I want us to be a quality program from top to bottom, and we’re working on it. We want us to be a 10 on a scale to 10 and right now, we’re at about a four.”

Cauley made an analogy about the school’s athletic program and his football team. Both, he believes are on the way up, but continue to require some nurturing to help them get there.

“It’s all getting better, just like our football team,” he said. “It takes steps and support.”
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