ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.- Sweet Home has been a powerhouse for years. This is no secret to anyone who knows anything about Western New York football.
From 2007 -2012 The Panthers have won six consecutive Class A Section VI championships, two class A state titles, and were runner up in the in the 2012 Class A state championship.
Head Coach John Faller has a pretty impressive resume and staff to work with. But this season, Coach Faller points out why his team needs to put in a little extra work this year. “It’s like any other team we’ve lost some kids, we’ve got a few returners back but we were hit pretty hard by graduation so it’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve beginning of the season,” Coach Faller told Two on Your Side’s Jonah Javad.
One of those players Sweet Home lost, is the man under center, the leader of the offense. “We lost Mike Torrillo an all Western New York quarterback, we lost our safety, we lost our two starting corners, defensive ends and that was on the defense. The offensive side we lost a couple linemen, so we definitely have our work cut out for us and hopefully the younger kids will develop in time for us,” said Coach Faller.
Even though graduation hurt Sweet Home football, there are still some bright spots from last season that Coach Faller has to work with. “We had two sophomore starters last year, Brandon Smiley at linebacker and he’ll probably play some offense for us also and Jordan Evert who was our leading rusher and plays defense. I think more kids are going to have to play both sides of the ball this year, I think that will be the biggest change,” said Coach Faller.
As for a new quarterback, there’s some competition between two guys right now for the starting job. “At quarterback, we’ve got Jordan Evert and we’ve got Kevin Torrillo they’re both juniors. We’ll see who fits in the best and who can run the team and we’ll go from there,” Coach Faller explained.
Despite losing their starting quarterback, Coach Faller wouldn’t say the offense is weaker than the defense. Rather, he needs more time to evaluate both sides of the ball to see which one is stronger. “It’s a little bit early yet, we’ve done a lot of seven on seven’s so I know we’ve got some speed on the defensive side of the ball. We’ll have to find out what the offensive line does when we go to the Buff State camp and see that,” Coach Faller said.
When taking a closer look at the schedule, Coach Faller didn’t see anything that surprised him.”We’re pretty much a set schedule we don’t have any AA teams this year we usually get one but the way Class A with three divisions this year our nonleague games are both A schools in Iroquois and McKinley otherwise we’re playing the same schedule with North Tonawanda, Grand Island and Kenmore East schools,” John Faller said.
As for that big rivalry game some schools look forward to, Sweet Home doesn’t have any true rivals. Being as successful as the Panthers are, Coach Faller explains why the tensions can run high during any game. “Pretty much everyone is our rivalry, that’s the way we look at it and I’m sure they look at it the same way when we play them,” Coach Faller said.
Given the records, championships, titles, any way you measure Sweet Home’s success over the years, the team seems to have a target on its back come opening day. And this is something Coach Faller recognizes and uses as a tool to motivate his players. “We’ve been carrying it for quite a while but you know what the kids step up and I give it to them as how do you want to be remembered and can you carry on the legacy that the kids before you did and so far they’ve done a pretty good job with it,” Coach Faller explained.
Sweet Home opens up the 2013 season on September 6th on the road at Iroquois.