After finishing fourth in the Class B West Division with a record of 3-4, the Maryvale Flyers football team were not seeded in the Sectional playoffs. The Flyers, then, defeated Albion and Pioneer in the postseason to claim the Chuck Funke Bowl Championship. The Bowl Championship, though, was not the title the Flyers were looking for. With a tough season last year, the Maryvale Flyers are looking to rebound in a major, with some major changes.
With the graduation of Marcus Ford, Kwaine Davis, Andrew Crombie, and Cory Gruenthaner, the Flyers football team had a few open spots on the depth chart that needed to be filled, including a major hole at the quarterback position. For the 2016 season and possibly the next three seasons following, Head Coach Jeff Buccieri called up freshman Connor Desiderio to run the Flyers offense and lead the team at the QB spot. One would think that a freshman starting at the most important position for a varsity team would be nerve wracking, but for Desiderio, not so much. “It’s just like any other football season for me. I’m not trying to get ahead of myself.” His teammates are just as confident in him as Desiderio is, if not more. Junior Dylan Casey says, “Connor’s one of the best quarterback’s around, to be honest. He knows the game well as a freshman, and he’s got a cannon for an arm. I can’t wait to play with him.”
As seniors graduate, leadership roles need to be assumed by players moving up through the system. Desiderio says he has had a few players show him the ropes. “It’s really fun working with these guys, you get to learn a lot. Especially from Austin Reamsnyder. He’s been teaching me a lot so far; he was a freshman on varsity, too.” The young starter comments, “Nick Costanzo has also really taken me under his wing, showed me a lot about the varsity game.” Coach Buccieri says there have been a few players stepping into bigger roles this year, “Brian Sullivan and Joey Cartonia have been up since their sophomore years, and they’ve been very good two-way players for us, and are looking to be a little more vocal on and off the field.”
Some key players returning from last year’s varsity team are RB Austin Reamsnyder, RB Rashad Law, RB Brian Sullivan, RB Scott Havernick, WR Nakeem Ubaydah, TE Joey Cartonia, OT Nick Costanzo, and OT Alex Eusanio. When talking about Maryvale football this year, be sure to mention their extreme depth at running back. Along with returning backs Reamsnyder, Law, Sullivan, and Havernick, coming up from JV are Dylan Casey and Jay Henley. When asked about the backs this season, Coach Buccieri states, “We’ve got a lot of speed this year. We’re not the biggest, but I feel like we’re more aggressive than we were as a team.”
Last year, the JV Flyers had a winning record of 6-3, including one close loss to rival Cheektowaga. On the first drive of the game, Maryvale running back Dylan Casey had a 30+ yard touchdown run, punching in the first touchdown Cheektowaga had given up all year. To top it all off, Casey went to Cheektowaga Central until just two years ago. He says playing against the guys he used to sit in class with is different. “It’s difficult, obviously, they’re a good school, but it’s more fun. Knowing them makes me want to beat them more.”
Two of the team’s four losses last season were nail-biters to say the least. The Flyers lost 35-23 to Cheektowaga, and to Burgard a few weeks prior by a score of 6-3. “We have the defending section 6 champs in Cheektowaga and the runner ups, Burgard, in our division. We respect those guys greatly, but let’s not hold back on them, let’s go at those guys,” is what Coach Buccieri is telling his players, and the message is getting through. Desiderio comments, “We’re aiming to compete with Cheektowaga Central this year, and to finally beat them.”
The Flyers have a lot to look forward to this year, and beyond. With a young, smart QB in Desiderio, a top-notch offensive line, and a core group of running backs that strike fear into top teams in the class, kickoff can’t get here soon enough for the Maryvale fans.
It can not be said better than how Coach Buccieri put it, “They’ve got a chip on their shoulder.” Desiderio proves this by saying that “Maryvale is usually looked upon as the odd school out in Cheektowaga behind Central and Cleve-Hill. We want to change that.” The Flyers kick their season off on Friday September 2nd, at home against Cleveland Hill.