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Misplaced Bulldogs Must Carry On

Adversity.

That is the word Head Coach Pat Veltri gave the Kenmore East Bulldogs as the first practice of the 2016 season came to a close. “It’s everything from getting your field torn up, to getting a late start at practice because of summer school…to the history of last year…it’s adversity.”

The Kenmore East Bulldogs Football team is certainly dealing with a lot of adversity.  Crews are tearing up Sparky Adams Field so they can install turf. This has forced  the team home games and practice. Summer Conditioning had to be held at the High School. The team has been without a weight room since May due to the construction.

The Bulldogs are also dealing with the dark cloud of last season hanging over their heads. In 2015, thanks to lower numbers and a combination of injuries and illness the Bulldogs had to forfeit the first game of the season. The coaches had to work it out so the JV games could be played after the Varsity games, allowing enough players to be on the sideline for the Varsity game. Despite the offense finding a rhythm towards the end of the season the Bulldogs finished the season 0-8.

Junior Kahlil O’Neil took away a lot from 2015, “Battle scars, leaning on my brothers for support”. Scolla believes that the end of last year will be a good springboard into this season “I think if not all, most of the momentum from last season is continuing onto this season”.

But the Bulldogs do lose some major contributors from last season. Esspically, Dion Woods, Jacob Elgie, and Josh Moore.

“No Excuses”

But the Dogs don’t want the adversity to hold them back as the motto for 2016 is ‘No Excuses’. Veltri told his team “that (adversity) is what football is all about”. O’Neil echoed that message, “Adversity goes without the field, it within ourselves,..it’s about being the best athlete you can be for your school, for your brothers”.

The numbers are up this season for Kenmore East, they are in the high 20’s. Veltri hopes they can get to 30 players. “I’d love to have 40 on varsity and JV it gives you a nice cushion”, said Veltri “we have a few issues…but we’re better then we were last year.

The Bulldogs are bringing back key players in QB Kahlil O’Neil and LB/Utility man Antonio Scolla. The coaching staff along with other returnees are counting on them being leaders for this team. O’Neil, who started at QB last year as a sophomore has shown good improvement so far. “(We’ve) seen a lot of growth out of him…(he’s) starting to be more of a leader, he’s speaking up and pointing players in the right direction”.

The Bulldogs are also returning juniors Billy Slautter and Owen Nadowski, as well as senior Zach Coburn.

The staff also has big expectations of the guys who we’re on JV last year, including Derek Simons and Steven Hark. The JV squad went 5-3 in 2015. “(The JV) had a pretty good year, competitive…they have a little bit of all the experiences that you need to be a good football team…(hopefully) they come with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder.” said Veltri.

Veltri preaches competitiveness, and that is his main focus heading into 2016. “Compete everyday in practice, in every game, never let up”. O’Neil is looking for consistency this season “Consistently, doing the same good thing over and over again”. Senior Antonio Scolla is confident about his team going into 2016, “We’re miles ahead of last year (at this time)”.

Kenmore East begins the year with division rival Sweet Home a traditional power in the Class A North Division. “(Sweet Home) will be a good test for us, they’re always a good program, great athletes, great coaching” said Veltri, “they will be a good test for us to see where we are.”   

The Bulldogs will open the 2016 season hosting Sweet Home. The game will be at Tonawanda High School, at 2 pm on September 3rd.

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