ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.- St. Mary’s returns seven starters on both sides of the ball for 2013. That seems like a good number heading into the season. But head coach David Hershey points out, no matter how many returners you have, sometimes it’s tough being a small school.
“We have to play all the big schools and we’re a C sized school. I’ll tell you what though our kids are remarkably resilient when it comes to that. They don’t want to have it any other way and I look at it as a coaching stand point that as the season goes on, 22, 23 bodies on your varsity has a hard time going against 50, 60 bodies week in and week out. There’s a fatigue factor at the end of the season that I’m a little concerned about but at the same time too our kids wouldn’t have it any other way,” Coach Hershey told Two on Your Side’s Jonah Javad at the Lions Ad-Pro All Star Game.
Coach Hershey then explains how the off season has looked so far for his squad. “If you don’t do anything in the off season it really doesn’t amount to much. Some of those kids have been working pretty hard in the off season and we’ll be prepared. They haven’t worked out quite as much as I wanted them to. Actually it’s a numbers thing for us, we don’t have a lot of bodies so I’m just hoping that the guys that are there are in shape when they walk in the door on the 19th of August and we can get the job done,” Coach Hershey said.
One of those key returning players for St. Mary’s made a huge impact on the team last year. And Coach Hershey expects nothing less in 2013. “I think you have to keep an eye on Nick Vallone our running back. He was the Monsignor Martin special teams player of the year last year. He’s kind of a highlight tape just to come out and watch. I’ve said this before many times as good as he is out on the football field he’s even a better teammate and kid. He does an even better job in the classroom and he’s everything a coach really wants. He’s constantly working out, he runs, he trains pretty hard and he does some different things to train. He’s going to be exciting to watch this year,” Coach Hershey explained.
Another player to keep an eye on for this season comes at the wide receiver position. “We have an All Catholic wide receiver by the name of Dione Strong. I wanted him to put on a little more weight this year but he’s an unbelievable athlete. He had a great season in basketball and we just look for him to roll it into football. He’s a great cover corner and he can catch the ball, he can get down field. I think he had five or six touchdowns for us last year receiving so we’re looking forward to that,” Coach Hershey pointed out.
Heading over to the defensive side of things, Coach Hershey can point out another key player coming back for his final season. “We’ve got another senior to be, Nate Keith, he’s our middle linebacker. He’s also going to play tight end for us quite a bit this year. He’s another kid to watch he started at middle linebacker for us as a sophomore so I’d like to think that he’s been working pretty hard all summer. I’d also like to think that he’ll get it done when it comes to strapping them up and getting ready to play on Saturdays,” Coach Hershey said.