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Nagel Take Over in Newfane

Photo by Jennifer Jellings Snow

There seems to be an awakening up in Niagara County this Fall, all you have to do is look at the football standings in Class C North to see it. The Newfane Panthers are 3-0 thus far and have the makings of what should be one of the finest overall seasons of the Chuck Nagel era.

Nagel, now in his 12th season helped end a 20-plus year playoff drought back in 2017. In fact he was a player on that ’93 team that had last qualified for the post-season. The former Panther has this year's squad poised to make a solid run into the post-season after impressive opening wins over Eden/North Collins, Roy-Hart/Barker and just last week versus Akron.

They’ll have their hands full Friday against Lake Shore (2-1). Newfane, however, has plenty of momentum heading into this non-league match-up. Nate Snow is a big reason for the recent success. The senior back has amassed over 500 yards passing, throwing four touchdowns. A dual-threat quarterback, Snow has picked up another 265 yards rushing and another four touchdowns. He’s not doing it all though, he has a stockpile of weapons performing just as well.

Brayden Walker and Ayden Buttery have two rushing TDs each while Ben Dickinson has caught 18 passes for 262 yards and two scores. Isaiah Gerstung has also hauled in two TD receptions, his only 2 receptions on the year.

Defensively, the Panthers have recorded a dozen sacks, have forced eight turnovers and have only given up 24 points in those three games. Khalil Golden leads the way with 19 tackles with Richard Doxey and Dickinson right behind him. Mac Capen has picked off three passes. Doxey has four sacks, Colin Doxey and Buttery have recorded two sacks each.

Newfane is showing that they are a well-balanced team.

“Our mindset this season was different than in the past.” Nagel said “Last year, our players went into the season telling others we wouldn't be very good. We lost a lot of (one score) close games due to that. The mindset this year was the exact opposite. We are going to compete in the offseason, during practices, stick together on and off the field, and let it translate on the field. So far, it has!”

After the win over Roy-Hart/Barker, Nagel found himself the recipient of the ADPRO Sports high school Coach of the Week for the Buffalo region, an honor he had won before back in 2017.

“We are light years ahead of where we were last year. We lost a bunch of close games early, but never quit and kept working. Every year, we expect to be successful, but this group was different. With all the work they put in behind the scenes, we knew they had a chance to make some noise early on.”

There’s a lot working for Newfane at the moment, but this coaching staff understands there is still a long way to go.

One of the joys of coaching for Nagel has been the opportunity to coach his son, CJ. The younger Nagel is in his 2nd season on varsity and is excited to be playing a part in the team's success.

“I enjoy playing for my dad because we have the same mindset, and that's to win,” CJ said. “He is also a great coach and always tries to help me and the team get better each practice. My role in the past 3 games has been to run block to the best of my ability, run crisp pass routes, and catch the ball when given the opportunity. I like that I am able to contribute to this team in whatever way possible.”

CJ is also a member of the school’s basketball and baseball teams. He’s been playing football since he was 6 years old. For the Panthers, he plays wide-receiver, defensive back and some special teams.

“I told him prior to his 11th grade season that our coaching staff sets a high standard for our players, Nagel said. “We put a ton of work in for them and we expect that in return. Now, being the coach's son, I also told him he has to work extra hard and cannot slack. In every town, there will be people thinking that a coach will play favorites, and I'm sure our town is no different. But, every one of my son's other coaches (basketball and baseball) can attest that I never question their decisions on his playing time, whether it be a little or a lot. He's not the biggest or fastest kid on my team, but he is one of the smartest receivers I have with great hands and blocking ability in the open field. He understands his role and can take my constructive criticism to get better. In my mind, those are great assets to have in any player.”

In addition to CJ, Nagel also has a daughter Melanie who attends every Panthers game. She also accompanies him to a number of Bills home games during the NFL season as well.

“The game has changed so much since I played,” Nagel said. “We didn't have coaches that worked with us in the offseason or in the weight room. We were a darn good team, but we put the work in on our own. I never had the opportunity to play organized football until my freshman year of High School, I was far down on my coach's depth charts, but I busted my butt with lifts, camps, track practice, etc., to make myself more marketable on the field. Everything I did as a teenager was to get better for my football coaches.

The players today, in any good program, are working 10-11 months a year with their high school coaches, in the weight room and with organized team activities throughout spring and summer. The players today are more cognitive and their football IQs are much better, probably due to the enormous hours spent playing Madden football with their buddies.

I've helped coach this group from the youth level to Varsity since they were 6 and 7 years old. I knew it was a special group way back when they played youth football. We had a great offseason as a team, so really no surprise on our 3-0 start.”

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