Sweet Home Football, a powerhouse in Section VI had a down year in 2015. The Panthers had a record of 2-6, ending their streak of 9 consecutive Section VI title game appearances.
“It wasn’t a typical Sweet Home team” admitted Head Coach John Faller. Besides the losing record the Panthers didn’t always play together as a team. Senior Nate Faller said “We definitely didn’t get along last year as a team”. Coach Faller hopes that will go away in 2016 as new faces step into the fold, “We have to have a bunch of kids who want to be on the same page as far as team first”.
2015 left a bad taste in their mouths, which has motivated the Panthers’ offseason. “We’re trying to make a big comeback from last season” said Nate Faller. Senior Joe Pandolfi said “(We) put a lot of work in during the offseason, a lot of drills, a lot of weight room, got bigger, faster…we’re hoping it pays off”. The Panthers also believe those personality issues that existed last year are now gone, “There’s not really any clashes…we’re all getting along”, said Junior Joe Torrillo.
The Panthers lose Austin Wilson, Jon Phillips, Matt Ortiz and Joe Armenia from the 2015 season due to graduation. Not only a leader on the line, Armenia brought an huge boost to the kicking game for Sweet Home for the past few seasons.
The JV squad went 1-7 in 2015. They bring up Joe Torrillo, who only played a few games due to injury as well as many others this year.
The Start of a new era
The Panthers will make history in Week 2 as they host West Seneca West in the first ever Friday Night Lights in Sweet Home history. This will mark the final realization of the Sweet Home Central School District’s $18.7 million capital project voted on in October 2013. The Project included building upgrades around the district, improvements to the Athletic fields as well as the installation of the multi-sport use turf field and lights. Sweet Home football played their final two home games on the turf field, but did not play under the lights.
Sweet Home is certainly excited for Friday Night Lights. Coach Faller and his team will cherish that night, “We’re excited, we’re fortunate to finally get a turf stadium with lights and everything that goes with it.” Senior Pandolfi agrees, “We’re pretty excited, friday night lights, brand new turf field…doesn’t get better than that”.
A starting QB is yet to be named for Sweet Home. Torrillo and Senior Cameron Gates are splitting reps at the position right now in practice and Coach Faller likes having two guys who can play the position, “You always need two quarterbacks because if somebody gets hurt you have to have the next guy ready”. Both players have work to do though, as Torrillo was injured on the JV for the better part of last season and Gates did not play at QB last year.
Sweet Home opens up the season facing fellow Class A North school, Kenmore East. The game will take place at Clint Small Stadium in Tonawanda at 2 pm on September 3rd.
The two teams did not face one another in 2015. The Panthers defeated the Bulldogs 65-14 at Sweet Home in 2014.
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