Thursday April 4, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Frontier senior Jimmy Smith should provide much of the offense for an inexperienced Frontier team looking to be at its best down the stretch of the season. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
Chris Stack isn’t measuring his team so much with how it is performing now. The Frontier head coach is gearing this group for playing its best come playoff time in May.
Though the Falcons may be somewhat inexperienced, Stack believes he has enough talent to compete in a tough Class A field but he’ll need to see steady improvement to do so.
He’s already seen this group get better during a busy offseason and into spring practices. Now, Frontier has a measuring stick of how much it will need to elevate its game after a 7-3 season-opening loss to Clarence, which along with defending sectional champion Orchard Park, are favorites in Class A.
“I think we’re right there as a potential two or three seed in Class A,” Stack said. “We’re inexperienced but we work hard. We got better as the game went on and never gave up against Clarence, so I think we’ll keep getting better throughout the season. It’s not how good we are in March; we’re trying to build toward May.”
Scoring twice in the opener was four-year varsity senior Jimmy Smith, who Stack believes will be one of the best middies in all of Western New York this season.
Smith, who also had several other quality opportunities in the game, will take over as the team’s offensive mainstay with the graduation of last year’s leading scorer Jimmy May, who now plays for Canisius College.
Stack will also be relying on another four-year varsity player in Brendon Forant, who will join Smith in the midfield. “The offense goes as they go,” Stack noted.
Among a handful of contributors on attack, big senior Mark Batorski should create a match-up problem for opponents. He also had many good opportunities against Clarence that Stack believes his senior will bury as the season moves along.
A young defensive corps will be led by sophomore returning starter Brandon May, Jimmy’s younger brother, and senior goaltender Luke Bartone, who steps into the net full-time this year. He stopped 12 shots against Clarence and he will run the backline.
Junior Patrick Quinlivan steps into a key role on defense as a long pole middie who will guard the opponent’s top players. He already held Clarence’s All-WNY middie Alex Dietsch without a goal in the opener.
Adding to a team with limited experience is tri-captain Garrett Hileman, a defensive specialist in the midfield who is highly respected by teammates, according to Stack. He’ll be joined in the captain role by Smith and Bartone.
After a few lean seasons, the Falcons began a turnaround last year with a berth into the sectional semifinals before falling at Clarence. Although he knows Orchard Park must be considered a favorite to repeat, he’d like his team to provide a challenge.
The Falcons will get another shot at Clarence on April 29 and meet OP on April 17 and May 13, along with taking on a challenging out-of-league schedule which includes hosting Class C champion Silver Creek on April 27 and playing at Class B champion Hamburg (May 15).
“I think we’re right there with Clarence but we need to get some of these early-season mistakes cleaned up,” Stack said. “We’re just hoping to give ourselves an opportunity at the end of the year.”