LeRoy Oatkan Knights varsity football program looks to rebound
from a 6-3 campaign in 2003 with a youthful squad sporting 20
underclassmen from a team of 30. The season ended dismally for
the Knights last year after being defeated 13-6 by a strong
Pembroke Dragon football team that was anxious to show doubters
that high school football is indeed strong to the west of LeRoy
on Route 5, not just to the east with the likes of powerful
Cal-Mum and Avon. After finishing 3rd in the Route 5 rankings,
the team welcomes back a fine mix of seniors with some very
talented young players with the goal of winning with the regularity
that the local fans have grown accustomed over the years (27-5
over the past 3 seasons including 2 sectional crowns). The practices
have been solid, turnout fantastic, and injuries few. A scrimmage
this past weekend with Class A Section 5 champion Victor and
AA Spencerport displayed the strengths of the squad and areas
where work is needed. By year's end, the Knights could and should
very well by vying for the program's 11th sectional crown in
Section 5 Class C.
the team again will be Head Coach Brian Moran who is 117-37-2
since his arrival in 1989. In his 15 previous seasons Brian
has earned 9 sectional football titles, which ties him with
Cal-Mum's Mike Monacelli for the most by a coach in Section
5 football history. The LeRoy program ranks 4th in total sectional
football titles (10) trailing only the elite programs of Clyde-Savannah
and Cal-Mum (13 each), and Fairport (11). The Raiders of Cal-Mum
will compete in Class D this season due to a drop in enrollment.
Class D is loaded with fantastic team talent and the addition
of the Raiders will make this classification of small school
football the very tops in the state of New York. Coach Monacelli,
who has earned 4 state titles at Cal-Mum, fields yet another
juggernaut this season with a realistic chance of winning yet
another state crown with the familiar names of Darron, Pieri,
Riggi, Paladino, and Walsh leading the way.
to aid Moran are the duo of Offensive Coordinator Chris Cappotelli
and Defensive Coach Extraordinaire Andrew Paladino. The offense
will have the ability to pass as well as run, the trademark
of LeRoy smashmouth, ball-control football. The defense will
experiment throughout the season with many players able to carry
out the strategies of defensive coach Paladino. Also on board
as assistants for 2004 are veteran Jim Bonacquisti, Dell Storey
in his 3rd season, and Brad Dietsch, in his sophomore season
and now heading up the LeRoy JV program. Coach Dietsch has been
instrumental in establishing a topnotch weight training program
at the school's new training facility. The turnout has been
tremendous, especially with the underclassmen. Coach Dietsch
has also worked long and hard putting together a chronicle of
LeRoy football that will be available in a fantastically prepared
program just in time for the Cal-Mum game on September 17th.
Be sure to purchase a copy of Brad's stellar composition.
offense returns the top 2 rushers from last season, rugged senior
Andrew Fox and speedy junior Mike Farabella. Fox, an all-county
first-teamer and third-team all NY state running back, has worked
hard all year to once again assume his role of team leader.
Drew was the squad's leading scorer with 9 TDs and the go-to
man at crunch time. He was the team's second leading tackler
when he was not rushing the ball on offense for an average of
5 yards per carry. Fox's strength is complemented nicely by
the speed and versatility of Farabella. Mike was the leading
ground gainer for the Knights as a sophomore as he garnered
just under 750 yards. He too averaged 5 yards per carry and
was as quick to the ball on defense as a LB as he is to the
hole when running. Mike, who catches the screen pass well, has
added strength to his toughness and he will again shine in the
quarterback position for the upcoming season will be handled
by promising sophomore Mark Bennetti and returning senior John
Zinni. Bennetti, last year's QB on the JVs, will have a long
and prosperous stay on the varsity over the next 3 years. Mark
shows poise under fire and will greatly aid the LeRoy passing
attack with his fine arm. His confidence should grow with each
game, especially under the guidance of Ron Plummer, a welcomed
offensive assistant helping the varsity after a tenure as Brighton's
head coach. Zinni is a fiery senior competitor that will provide
Coach Moran a versatile leader who can not only throw the ball,
but be called upon to line up as a wide receiver to retrieve
a pass. John will play center field on defense as a safety and
will likely be a team leader in interceptions. John is a major
plus for the team in 2004.
is plenty of depth at running back with the likes of juniors
Tim Andrews, Dan Horning, Mike Frew and Justin Casper. All of
these players have worked hard in the off-season getting into
top shape and will receive big minutes of play for Coach Moran.
The targets for the passing game will be ably manned by 6-footers
Boo Hinett and Colin Dailey. Hinett impressed coaches last season
as a sophomore and was called up to the varsity after the Cal-Mum
JV game, so he is no stranger to the varsity ranks. Junior classmate
Dailey is a wiry-strong receiver with great hands and no fear
to go across the middle or downfield to snag a pass.
The O-Line played very strong in the scrimmage with Victor and
Spencerport. The line is lead by LCAA first-team all-star Tim
Dieffenbacher at RG. Dieff has maintained his strong physical
presence with some strong off-season workouts and will again
be opening holes for the likes of Fox and Farabella. More on
Tim later. Lining up to the right of Dieff at RT will be rough
and tough senior Phil Niccloy. Phil will be looked upon to show
the tenacity he is noted for on the wrestling match when banging
in the trenches play after play. Another grappler looks to be
the leading contender at TE, Matt Forti. The scrappy Forti will
provide good push and a nice pair of hands for the Knights.
Sophomore Kevin Brady has also impressed coaches with his play,
justifying his call-up to the varsity ranks. Brady will be a
force in the seasons to come, mark my words. Speaking of young
talent, there is freshman, that's right, freshman John Whiting
lining up at center for the Knights after playing on the line
on last year's strong modified team. John possesses good size
(235), strength, technique, heart, and perhaps most importantly,
gridiron smarts to match his stellar grades in the classroom.
We are talking a 4-year starter here. You are witnessing year
one of what is sure to be one of the finest careers for a lineman
at LHS. LG will be manned by Mike Pacer who has displayed he
can play O-Line as well as he performs at LB, the position he
is most noted for. Big Shaun Swanson at 250 lbs. will get the
nod likely at LT. Shaun is improving daily and will also be
called upon to boot the ball on PATs and FG attempts. He nailed
a pair of 40+ yard FGs in the Victor/Spencerport scrimmage.
defensive schemes will once again be called by the Master of
Defense, Andrew Paladino. The Front 4 of the D-Line looks to
include Niccloy and junior big man Zack "Poomba" Murray
at tackle positions and Dieffenbacher and Forti at the DEs.
Dieffenbacher moves in from his LB position to play DE and will
be a monster. Tim was not only All-LCAA on the O-Line, he was
a first-teamer all-county selection at LB as well. Dieff led
all of the Knights with 71 tackles in his junior season in 2003.
The team will look to juniors Aaron Scott (long snapper for
the team) and Rob Morgan to provide depth on the D-Line as well.
Linebacking will once again be strong in 2004 as three return
in Fox, Farabella, and Pacer. The fourth LB looks to be Tim
Andrews who has improved with hard work and increased knowledge
and confidence. Zac Condidorio, able to play both LB and DB,
will return to the fold after a summer time accident in which
his foot was literally smashed in a construction accident. The
sure tackling Condidorio, one of the school's finest all-time
wrestlers, will play larger than his 5'4" frame when he
returns. Look for Tommy Smith to get quality minutes at LB as
well. Up from the JVs, Tom is quick and tough, much like his
brother Ken who played a huge role for the LeRoy D in 2001/02.
Juniors Frew, Horning, and Casper will also be called upon to
utilize their speed and strength on defense for Coach Paladino.
The defensive backfield will likely feature the likes of Bennetti,
Zinni, and Dailey, all with a nose for the ball.
Knights' quest for a 11th sectional title, and third in 4 years
begins on Saturday, September 4th, away against the Warsaw Tigers
at 1:30 pm. Avon is up in game 2 and always provide the Knights
with a good test. Week 3 brings the mighty Raiders of Cal-Mum
in a great home opener at Hartwood Park. The Knights have not
lost a contest at home, be it regular season or post-season,
since 1998. Letchworth and Perry will be the respective Week
4 and 5 opponents before Bath visits LeRoy on Week 6. The Knights
look to avenge a 31-0 loss to the Rams who totally manhandled
the LeRoy squad in '03. Wellsville ends the regular season with
a long trip to Hartwood before the start of sectional play.
Look for Pembroke and Bishop Kearney to be strong competition
in Section 5 Class C this season. Both squads return strong
cores of talent and will not be intimidated by any LeRoy football
lore or tradition. Good luck to all in the LCAA, Section 5,
and throughout all of New York state. Let the games begin!