WEST SENECA, NY – – The West Seneca East Trojans are hoping for another successful season under the coaching of Jim Maurino. The Trojans will look to avenge their loss at New Era Field in 2015 to the eventual New York State champion South Park Sparks this season, but they will have to do that without some key players from last year’s team.
The Trojans will be playing in a very competitive Class A South division, which features nine teams in it. West Seneca East finished last season with an 8-2 record (5-1 in the same division), will have a tough schedule to begin the 2016 campaign. The Trojans will host Bennett in their home opener and then travel to Angola to face Lake Shore. The last three games for West Seneca East could also pose some trouble as they will have to play at South Park, at Iroquois, and at home in the annual showdown against West Seneca West.
“That stuff is totally out of our hands as coaches. You got to deal with the hand that’s dealt you,” Trojans head coach Jim Maurino said about Bennett jumping from Class C to Class A. “Here they are in Class A, they’re a good team and they were tearing it up in Class C. They’re getting thrown in the mix, which doesn’t make things easier.”
With Bennett on the schedule first, it should be a very good test to see how well West Seneca East will fair in arguably the most difficult class in all of Western New York football. Last season, the Trojans boasted three key players, whom have all graduated, that could run and catch the ball effectively for Maurino. John Dolac III was the main player for the Trojans last season both offensively and defensively, while Jalexis Santiago was a very dominant safety, and was also an offensive threat. Ray Johnson, who was the team’s best cornerback, was also a very solid running back when Dolac III or Santiago couldn’t go.
“It’s a challenge every year,” Coach Maurino said. “In order to try and stay competitive you’ve got to develop your younger players. You’re obviously going to lose players to graduation every year, so we can only hope that our developing of the younger players will pay off and they’re going to step up and fill in some roles for us.”
This season, West Seneca East will hand the ball off to Ian Dolac, John’s younger brother. The 5-foot-8 senior is looking to match the same numbers that his brother had for the Trojans a year ago. Ian says that his brother has been giving him some pointers and that playing not only together last season, but for almost his whole life, has helped tremendously.
“I’ve always played with him, and he’s only one year above me,” he said. “I look up to him, I learn from him, and he teaches me a lot. Just watching him, you can tell by watching the way he plays, what he does, you want in a player. I do exactly what I have to do to fill in for his spot.”
West Seneca East also brings back last year’s starting quarterback Austin Breidenstein. The incoming senior has the ability to both sling the ball in the air, as well as run with the ball and maneuver around tacklers with ease. Breidenstein is eager to get into regular season games and show off his skills and help the team win.
“I’m working on passing a little bit more to get more passing touchdowns instead of running with the ball,” Breidenstein said. “[As a team], we’re all working to win at the Ralph and keep moving on after that.”
West Seneca East’s offense will most likely give teams some difficulty to contain, but the defense is still a work in progress. Junior Drew Woltz will replace Dolac III at the inside linebacker spot and Coach Maurino added that a couple players were battling to take over the position that Johnson had from a year ago.
Breidenstein and Dolac will most likely play both sides of the ball and help on defense, while Jacob Maurino will be the team’s marquee safety, the position Santiago assumed last season. When playing Cheektowaga in their scrimmage last Saturday, both the offense and defense were playing quite well against a very powerful Warriors team, who plays a classification lower at Class B.
“I always go into the season confident,” Coach Maurino said about his team. “These guys are good workers and we had a good offseason, they really paid attention to the weight room. I think we’re strong, we’re fast, and we’re physical, and we just need to keep developing them as we go along.”
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