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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Jacks Have Eyes on Class A North Title

In the eyes of North Tonawanda Lumber Jacks football head coach Henry Fumerelle if the coaches want consistency from their players they have to be consistent in their message as coaches. Which is why Fumerelle, now in year two as the Jacks head coach, is once again preaching the same three tiered approach to the 2016 season that he did last season.

One: Take it one game at a time. Two: Play for, and win, the sectional title. Three: Match what the 2009 NT football team did and win states. With consistency in their message Fumerelle hopes they are building a culture of winning. Where nothing less than winning championships are acceptable.

“That’s exactly what we’re doing,” Fumerelle said. “We’re trying to breed a culture where we’re not happy just to make the playoffs.”

Going 5-3 last season, NT saw its season come to an end when they fell to West Seneca East in the Section VI Class A quarter finals. West Seneca East would go on to the A title game, losing to eventual state champion South Park.

Returning a solid cast of talent on both sides of the ball, Fumerelle and the Lumberjacks firmly believe that they have the tools to make a solid run at the A North title and get to New Era Stadium for sectional finals.

Leading the way for the Jacks are seniors Zack Woodard (QB), Joe Dotterwiech (RB/K) and Patrick Milbrand (WR/S).

Three of the top skilled players in all of Section VI, all three experienced breakout seasons in 2015. Through summer workout sessions and the first week of camp Fumerelle said he has already seen the positive signs that all three are on the road to raising their games to the next level.

“I believe that all three of those guys, Dotterwiech, Woodard and Milbrand have worked very, very hard,” Fumerelle said.

“We had our first meeting Nov.9. We started in the weight room on the 15th of November and added speed training, (jumping on) boxes, and ply-o-metrics and the weight room and they’ve been a huge part of that (success)…They’ve been the leaders of our team.”

A power house out of the backfield, Dotterwiech is also one of the most efficient and reliable place kickers in Western New York. While Milbrand, at 6-foot-4, has the size and speed that makes him especially effective at free safety. While every returning player has used the experience of last season to gain confidence going into 2016, the players also agree that having a year with Coach Fumerelle under their belts has helped the bonding process. Now familiar with Fumerelle as a coach and teacher of the game has made every player more in tune with Fumerelle’s goals and expectations.

“Last year we had just met him, we had no idea what he wanted from us. We didn’t know any of the plays or what kind of offense he runs,” Milbrand said. “Now, second year, we’ve got more experience and we know exactly what he wants.”

Cody Sikora is among the key offensive weapons lost to graduation, but the Jacks feel secure that Chris Labonte has the speed and ability to fill replace Sikora on the offensive side of the ball.

“People don’t know about him that much because Cody Sikora kind of overshadowed him a little bit,” Fumerelle explained.

“But he had a breakout game against Wheatfield and he’s gonna have a great year also.” Though North Tonawanda lost some power off its line in Hayden Holmes and Bailey Franusiak, both who played in the Lions Senior Game in July, they do return a group in Tyler Beasock, Alex Johnson, Bryce Schmigel and Robert Rozicki who all benefited from the speed and agility workout the Jacks took part in over the summer.

“It definitely helped us with our footwork,” Beasock said. “It helped us get everything down, as far as plays and everything. And that’s the main goal of our line-to protect our quarterback and we’ve been doing that.”

Senior Austin Tober also returns and should be a multi-faceted weapon for NT. “Expectation wise, we’ve been told to work hard every single day and we’re doing that in practice,” Beasock said.

The Jacks open the season at home against Williamsville East on Sept.2 at 7pm.

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