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Harris helps Hornets score franchise’s first points

Mike Harris threw two touchdowns in the Hornets’ Week 4 game against the Buffalo Knights. Jake French Photography.
Although it has been a slow beginning for the upstart Hamburg Hornets in their inaugural season, the performance by their quarterback in their most recent outing may have proved to be just what the local semi-pro ball club needed.

Mike Harris, a 2012 Frontier graduate, tossed the first two touchdowns in Hamburg Hornets history in a 42-12 loss to the Buffalo Knights on June 28 at Mulroy Park.

“We’re almost there,” said Harris, whose team fell to 0-4 on the season. “We’re a first-year team, so it’s going to be hard no matter what.”

The Hornets failed to score in their first three games, making Harris’ first touchdown pass of the evening the very first points for the newly-founded National League of Semi-Pro Football franchise.

Hamburg had entered the redzone and threatened to score as Harris found Mario Miller on a broken play to keep the Hornets in the game.

“The first one, it wasn’t even supposed to go to Mario,” Harris said. “I was looking towards the right side of the field and there was pressure coming in, so I had to scramble out to the left. I was going to run it, but then I saw Mario wide open so I dumped it off to him.

“It was still close, so we kind of got pumped up a little bit.”

The Hornets were able to make it a two-possession game when Harris threw his second touchdown pass of the contest to Brian Gannon, another Frontier grad from the Class of 2012.

“The second touchdown ended up making it 24-12, so we were getting there,” Harris said. “We had the momentum. I threw a 15-yard pass to Brian Gannon. He caught the ball and went into the endzone.”

Despite the effort, Hamburg was unable to earn another score to close in even further on the Knights.

Harris played some quarterback during his time at Frontier High School, where he mainly played wide receiver and free safety.

Besides some spring ball he participated in at Erie Community College, Harris has been away from the game since he last strapped up for the Falcons in the fall of 2011.

“It’s fun,” Harris said about playing semi-pro football. “High school football is high school football. You can’t compare anything to high school football, but it’s just fun to throw on the pads again.”

Also a backup safety for the Hornets, Harris is one of the many Frontier grads on the roster. Team owner and player Brandon Perry began putting the team together last summer and built much interest within his high school teammates.

“Brandon ended up relaying the message to me and I was interested in playing,” said Harris. “There’s a lot of Frontier guys. I feel comfortable with them just because I played with them before.”

The Hornets last contest against the Buffalo Knights was just Harris’ second start of the season. Despite the time off from the game and not playing quarterback primarily in high school, Harris said that the transition wasn’t too bad.

“I played a little bit of quarterback in high school, so I knew how to throw a football and stuff like that,” noted Harris. “It was pretty easy transition.”

Harris is one of many Hornets that was coached by Tim Fox for the Carnegie Scranton Recreation Association Little Loop football team. Now the head coach of the Hornets, Fox and much of his roster have already had a good rapport with each other for years.

The latest addition to the Hornets roster is Kenny Kahler. He just graduated from Frontier in June and will add depth to a brittle backfield as the team’s leading rusher, Tony Mecozzi, has been in and out of the lineup with injuries.

Hamburg is still seeking its first win, falling to the Youngstown Rough Riders, 52-14, on July 12. With confidence built from being able to score in the last two contests, Harris feels that there is enough skill on the roster to bring home a victory sooner than later.

“We have a lot of talent, we just have to get everybody to practice and stuff,” said Harris. “I don’t think we’re there yet, but it’s definitely a step in getting the first couple of touchdowns.”
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