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Clarence Gets Stronger

The Clarence Red Devils football team certainly surprised a lot of people last year.

Led by a sophomore QB in Jack Putney, the Red Devils (6-3, 4-1) jumped out to a 4-0 record and won the Class AA North division earning themselves two home playoff games in 2016.

According to senior Jake Reger, the team embraced being the underdog.

“People underestimated us,” Reger said. “We stuck together, kept to ourselves and showed everyone else what we can do.”

This year Clarence knows they won’t catch anybody off guard, so they’ve been putting the work in during the offseason. A special focus for the Red Devils has been placed on being in the weight room more often and that has already shown big dividends.

“We told them to get stronger,” head coach Paul Burgio said. “We’ve have good weight room results, some of our guys have gone up 100 pounds in the dead lift over this offseason.”

After 24 years as an assistant coach in Clarence, Burgio takes over as head coach of the Red Devils.

According to Burgio, the transition hasn’t been too overwhelming, especially since former coach Mark Layer is still helping out.

“Football is Football,” Burgio said. “The biggest difference is the other responsibilities; being prepared, communication and talking to the parents. But I have really good support group.”

Clarence will be led this year by Putney, and seniors Reger and Brendan Cimerman. According to Burgio not only are they the three best skill players on the team, they are also the strongest.

Not only did Putney put in a lot of work in at the weight room this offseason, he also put a lot of work in on the field. The junior spent time working with Joe Licata on his mechanics.

Putney feels miles ahead of where he was last year at this time.

“It’s a lot easier,” Putney said. “I noticed it in 7on7. Last year it was nerve racking, now it’s just casual.”

Burgio has a lot faith in the junior quarterback heading into his second year at the helm. The Red Devil offense will be more of a passing attack in 2017 than in years past.

“We’re going to a spread team and throw the ball around,” Burgio said. “We’re still going to run the double wing offense that we’re known for but with a quarterback like Jack (Putney) we need to throw the football.”

The Red Devils may have gotten a break this year with scheduling. As Class AA combines into one division, Clarence will not be playing perennial powerhouses Lancaster and Orchard Park.

Yet, the Red Devils feel they’re the team to beat this year.

“Everyone’s saying we drew an easy schedule,” Burgio said. “We’re going to play the games we got. They say we don’t have to play Orchard Park and Lancaster. We look at it that they don’t have to play us.”

This year the Red Devils want to build on the success they had in 2016, but right now the focus is to go game by game.

For Reger the goal is simple, to win.

“We are going to take it one game at a time and hopefully get to the stadium,” Reger said.

Clarence opens up the season with a non-league matchup against Williamsville South on Friday, September 1st at 7 p.m.

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