There were a lot of great moments for the Maryvale football team last season, but the worst one has left the biggest impression on the Flyers this offseason.
In overtime at New Era Field, with a sectional title on the line and their crosstown rivals the only thing stopping them, the Flyers went for the two-point conversion.
Rashad Law took the inside handoff but ended up just shy of the goal line.
“We keep saying ‘we were just two yards short,” junior Connor Desiderio says has been the rallying cry this offseason. “‘Do we want to be two yards short again?'”
Teams can respond in one of two ways from a moment like that; dwell on it or move on and use it as motivation. The Flyers have chosen the latter.
“We’ve bounced back hard,” senior Rashad Law said. “We’ve had it in the back of our minds but we’ve been in the weight room this offseason trying to be the best we can be.”
Despite the sour ending, Maryvale has a lot to hang their hat on after going 8-2 (5-1 Class B1) last season, with both losses coming to Cheektowaga by a combined eight points. They also upset top-seeded Lackawanna in the Class B semifinals.
“You get chills thinking about what we accomplished last year,” Maryvale coach Jeff Buccieri said. “Those guys really embraced that underdog role. To be able to walk out of the tunnel (at New Era field), that was a special experience.”
Not only do the Flyers have a lot of positives to take away from 2017, they bring many of their starters back too.
Desiderio returns for his third season as the starting quarterback for Maryvale. The QB threw for 1,478 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“I’m definitely calmer than the last two years,” Desiderio said. “I’m a leader now so I have to be more vocal. I’m more composed and I know the offense inside and out.”
Maryvale is one of four teams to have a returning Connolly Cup finalist in Law. The running back, who also plays free safety, jumped onto the scene running for nearly 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also made plays in the passing game with 15 catches for 286 yards and a score. Law was second on the team in tackles last year with 90.
“He’s lights out,” Buccieri said. “One of the best players I’ve ever coached. Besides being a defensive player, he’s one of the best offensive players in western New York. He’s a complete package.”
They also bring back senior RB/DB Jay Henley. He ran for 668 yards and six touchdowns and made 13 catches for 271 yards and four touchdowns last year.
On the line, Maryvale returns three multi-year starters in seniors Jonah Law, Austin Majewski, and Gavin Zbock.
The Flyers lose key players from last year’s team in top receiver Ray Blackwell along with LB/OL Nick Costanzo and RB/DB Dylan Casey.
Seniors RB/DB Montell Ferguson and LB/TE Zach Vaticano started on defense last season and will be expected to take on larger roles on the offensive side of the ball in 2018.
Even though the Flyers will now have a bigger target on their backs, the goal is to get back to the Stadium and finish the deal this season.
“We want to make it back to the sectional title game this year,” Law said. “We came up short last year so we have to get it done this year.”
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