The Cardinal O’Hara Hawks Football team is often left out of the conversation about the top teams in Monsignor Martin. But the Hawks want to start being part of that conversion, “We’re on a mission this year to compete…to show people we’re a serious program” says Head Coach Shaquille Dudley.
Dudley enters his first year as Head Coach, taking over for Angelo Sciandra who retired after coaching 30 years between O’Hara and St. Mary’s.
The 2015 season got off to a strong start, as the Hawks went 4-1 in their first 5 games, but as the second half of the season got under way, O’Hara started to slip. The Hawks had a heart breaker at the end of the regular season, with a 12-6 overtime loss at home to St. Mary’s of Lancaster. A week later in the Monsignor Martin Playoffs Timon ended the O’Hara 2015 campaign with a 26-14 loss and a 5-5 record.
“We just got to work hard every week, got to study, watch more film, strategize better as a team” says senior William Willis, as he reflects on 2015.
Among the players lost from the 2015 season lost due to graduation, Charles DeRose III and Curtis Johnson will be surely missed.
Flying to the top of Monsignor Martin
Dudley has a really good feeling about the 2016 season. “We have a lot of young talent, a good core of returning guys”. He thinks that is may be the year the Hawks finally make some noise, “We want to show up this year and give people a surprise”. The Head Coach is looking forward to taking on the traditional powers of Monsignor Martin like Canisius, St. Joe’s and Timon, “I think we’ve already had the talent, but have lacked some of the resources to be on the same page as some of those guys…I look forward to competing against them.”
Leading this team on both sides of the ball is running back/linebacker William Willis. Dudley has high expectations for Willis this season, “I look for (him) to be a All-WNY/All-State Player…He’s one of the most dedicated people I know, he wants success for the team”. Willis is a returning captain on the team, who had 644 rushing yards and 211 yards receiving. He also had 63 tackles and 6 sacks on defense in 2015.
Willis is impressed with his team so far, “We feel good, we’ve been doing a lot of conditioning and working hard, that’s all that matters right now.” As a leader, Willis believes it is his job to lead by example for the younger guys, “Keeping the young guys focused for future O’Hara, showing them what’s right or wrong and how to work”. Like his coach, the captain expects “a great season” in 2016.
The Hawks are bringing up a lot of young guys up from the JV. As sophomores, Jordan Faison, Brandon Broadnax, Jamall Lewis and 6′ 3″, 300 pound, tackle Steven Boyd will all make the jump to Varsity and expected to have a big impact in 2016.
According to Coach Dudley, the first week of practice has been about working on skills and execution. “We’ve been talking about dedicating yourself to getting better at your craft everyday.”
O’Hara opens up the season with University Prep. Dudley wants a first strong showing from his team, “I want us to come out and execute, physically try to enforce our will…we want to dominate up front”.
Cardinal O’Hara will travel to Rochester to take on University Prep at 3pm on September 3rd. Last season, the Hawks defeated University Prep 30-0 at O’Hara.
Edit: A previous version of this post had stated that Coach Sciandra spent 30+ years at O’Hara. He also spent time coaching at St. Mary’s as well during his coaching tenure.
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