BUFFALO, N.Y.-As they battled on the gridiron at the start of training camp, the Bennett Tigers were very optimistic about the quickly approaching football season. Although they posted 5-4 record in their second year in Section VI, the team collectively agreed that this year they are more of a ‘team.’
“Last year people wanted to ball more for themselves and to show what they could do better than the other person rather than playing for the team and playing to win.”Senior TE/DT Shawn Wilson said. “This year we’re together, we have a senior interior line and we have good young guys coming up. So it should be a good year for us.”
The offensive and defensive lines that Wilson will be a part of are also reasons for optimism. The offensive line in particular, as head coach Steve McDuffie says, will be a big reason why the Tigers will be a run-first team.
“Everyone said we were a ground and pound team last year and I think this year we’ll be looking to do the same,” McDuffie said. “Even though we’re very veteran up front, we still have a lot of kids that aren’t veterans in other positions.” McDuffie knows whoever takes over at running back will have a tough time replacing Javon Fogan.
The Tigers will be young at wide receiver, linebacker and quarterback. McDuffie knows the importance of the quarterback position and is still trying to find the right man for the job.
“Right now we’re looking at a number of kids, the quarterback position is definitely the most important position on the field and we know that and we’re going to try and get the best kid in that position to try and help Bennett be successful,” McDuffie said.
At the wide receiver and linebacker positions, junior Calvin Driskell is going to try his best to contribute and help the team with both. On this year’s team compared to last year’s, “It’s more of a cohesive unit,” Driskell said. “No one’s just for self, it’s a team effort and we all understand that.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Coach McDuffie says his team will use their excellent speed to gang tackle and swarm their opponents. As for his job, McDuffie says his team has all the motivation they need and he will be able to focus on teaching the basics.
“They really want to win for each other,” McDuffie said. “I just have to motivate them to do all the little things right but as far as motivating them to be here that’s not an issue.”
Driskell described the St. Joe’s Marauders as the Tigers biggest rival this year. They will look to win that big rivalry game as they host the Marauders in week two. The Tigers will begin their road to the Section VI Championship at Ralph Wilson Stadium as they visit West Seneca East on August 31st at 7 p.m.