Connor Desiderio has been the centerpiece for the Maryvale Flyers football team the three past seasons.
But with the graduation of key skill players like Jay Henley and 2017 Connolly Cup finalist Rashad Law, Desiderio is taking on a bigger load his senior year.
The fourth-year starting quarterback is running the ball more often and even playing defense for the Flyers this season.
The additional duties and opportunities to get hit could make some kids hesitant, especially if they have plans to play at the next level. But Desiderio, who recently committed to play baseball at St. Bonaventure in late August, is embracing his new role on the football team.
“I finally feel like I’m a real football player,” said Desiderio, after the Flyers’ 28-6 win over the Burgard Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon at Charles Dingbloom Field.
“Playing both sides of the ball adds another dimension to my game that helps the team win. I’ll do whatever it takes.”
In his 28th career start, Desiderio showed no fear using both his arm and his legs while accounting for all four touchdowns in the Flyers’ victory Saturday.
“We always knew he could pass,” Maryvale coach Jeff Buccieri said. “But this year he’s a focal point of our rushing game and playing a big role on defense for us. We needed him to step up and play other roles this year.”
Maryvale (2-0) had a 14-0 lead at the half. Desiderio, who finished with 173 yards passing and 58 rushing, ran the first score in from two yards out and found Don McCoy for the other.
Burgard’s only scoring drive came late in the third quarter. Running Back Nasir Zinnerman exploded for a 17-yard run, followed by QB Kire Eaglin hitting Keonta Jackson for 25 yards. Justin Putman took it eight-yards up the middle for a touchdown with 6:08 left.
Maryvale responded with a four-minute, nine-play, 79-yard drive that was capped off by a Desiderio seven-yard touchdown run.
“We really felt like we were in command the whole game,” Desiderio said. “We were just pumping each other up (after the Burgard touchdown). There was a lot of positive talk on the sidelines. We just knew if we played our own game we were going to come out with a ‘W.'”
The Flyers’ defense forced a three-and-out on the next drive and after the punt, Desiderio found Jayden Morgan over the middle for an 80-yard touchdown catch.
Even though the win doesn’t effect whether or not they make the playoffs, since Burgard isn’t in their division, it will still help with their playoff seeding.
But the Flyers have to get there first.
Through the first two weeks, the Class B2 division looks to be one of the toughest in Section VI. WNY Maritime/Health Sciences is off to a 2-0 start with wins over historically strong programs Cheektowaga and Dunkirk. Iroquois is perfect as well, beating Bishop Timon and Medina. Maryvale defeated Cleveland Hill last week.
Only the top two teams from each division from Class B qualify for the playoffs, with the winner earning a top four seed and the second place team getting a bottom four seed. The results of the crossover games in Class B will be used as a tiebreaker to help determine seeding.
“Our division is tough every year,” Buccieri said. “We like where we’re at right now. We had two non-league games against two great teams. That will help us get ready for our league schedule.
Next week: The Flyers host Medina in their Class B2 and home opener and Burgard will welcome in Class B4 foe Tonawanda. Both games are scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m.
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