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O’Hara Seeks 7th Straight Championship

The Cardinal O’Hara’s Varsity football team sets out to win their seventh straight championship, but this year may prove to be a greater challenge then in years past.

The Monsignor Martin Athletic Conference, which used to divided into Class A for small schools, and Class AA for large schools, is now a single class for football; comprised of St. Joe’s, Canisius, St. Francis, Timon/St. Jude, and Cardinal O’Hara. Niagara Catholic, St. Mary’s, and Nichols will compete independently.

Angelo Sciandra, football coach, athletic director, and assistant principal, at Cardinal O’Hara, was left with three choices after the departure of Niagara Catholic to redevelop their football program, “either stay in a three team league with Nichols and St. Mary’s, go with an independent schedule, or join the four large schools to make it a five team league.”

Sciandra did not feel a three team league was a viable option, and since their non-league schedule in previous years included all the Class AA teams, he figured moving up was best.

“It’s going to be hard, no doubt about it, it’s not going to be easy. The big thing is in a school like ours, it’s the depth, we can probably match up for a while, but if somebody gets hurt, or you lose a kid for one reason or another, that’s where it hurts you when you play the large schools.”

One thing O’Hara does not have this year that they have had in years past is that elite running-back.

“We don’t have a Reggie [Garner,] we don’t have a Rob [Davis,] we don’t have a kid with that blazing speed. We have a good stable of running backs, we have Kyree Carter, Khari Wright, and Michael Gough, and between the three of them, they are going to get there touches. They’re all good backs, I like all three of those running backs, they’re all fast enough, and they’re all tough enough”

O’Hara may not be as strong at the running back position as in years past, but Coach Sciandra says they are strong once again in something that is critical to a successful running game.

“The offensive line is our strength; all five starters are back from last year.”

That offensive line will not only help the running game, but will help protect returning quarterback, Anthony DiFrancesco. They will also be returning the majority of their defensive players, “we have most of our pieces in place, but there are some we are trying to fix.”

One area they are looking for improvement in is leadership.

“I’m very concerned about leadership… some kids are starting to step up; Devon Rose, Anthony DiFrancesco, Larry Middlebrooks, they’re emerging.”

One of the focuses for Coach Sciandra is not only to develop strong football players, but strong people. Seven years ago, O’Hara was one of the first schools to enroll in the Cross-Training Football program led by Coach Mike Masters, and it has made all the difference for the football program. Each week Coach Masters comes and talks with the players, and uses a “buzz word” such as “faith,” and whatever player exemplifies that word during the week of practice becomes the player of the week.

“The most important things to us while they are here is that we want them to be good students, good citizens, good brothers, good sons, and maybe more importantly down the road, good fathers. That’s more important than wins and losses.”

It will take the work on and off the field to be able to compete in this year’s Monsignor Martin, with possibly the two best players the league has ever seen in Akeel Lynch of St. Francis and Chad Kelly of St. Joe’s; both of whom are going to Division I colleges next fall.

As for going for number seven:

“It’s going to be the hardest challenge we’ve had, but we have all intentions of winning the league. We’re not going in just to be in it, we’re going to try like heck to win it, we really are, and if we can stay healthy, and that’s a big if, I think we will be okay.”


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