ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.- One challenge any high school football head coach faces, is replacing key players. For some coaches, graduation hits teams hard. This is what Steve McDuffie faces with Bennett going into the 2013 season.
“This year we’ll be a very young football team but I think we have the ability to, as the season moves forward, to become a very competitive football team. We’ll be young in a lot of key positions. I would say we’ll be young mostly up front on the offensive and defensive line,” Coach McDuffie told Two on Your Side’s Stu Boyar at the Lions Ad-Pro All Star Game.
Even though Coach McDuffie has some key spots to fill, there are still some bright spots in certain areas. “We’ll have a good core of senior linebackers and we’ll have a good core of senior running backs and wide receivers. It really depends on how the kids gel but I can tell you one thing as the season moves forward, I think we’ll be very, very competitive. I know we’re going to line up and play Bennett style football and we’re just going to move forward and meet every challenge that we come across,” Coach McDuffie pointed out.
With the amount of experience from those senior leaders on defense, Coach McDuffie expects big things from that side of the ball. “This year I expect to be a little bit stronger on the defensive side of the football for the first time. We’ll have three of our four linebackers are seniors, we’ll have a senior defensive tackle and we’ll also have a senior free safety. I think we return more starters on the defensive said of the ball so this year I’m looking for our kids to be very, very competitive, I’m looking for us to play a lot of close games. I think defensively that’s where our edge will be this year,” Coach McDuffie explained.
That edge on defense will help the Tigers who are now in a different league than last season. And that’s why Coach McDuffie predicts a more successful season.”We open up with Burgard High School which will be an old style I would like to say probably Harvard Cup probably slug fest week one. Then Cheektowaga comes to Bennett High School at All High and then we go to Maryvale. We play down this year in B so the depth won’t be an issue like it was when we were in Class A so that’s why I’m looking for us to be in a lot more ball games this year,” said Coach McDuffie.
Right off the top, Bennett will be greeted with its rivalry matchup in week one. Coach McDuffie points out, Burgard and Bennett certainly have a history. “Yes I would say so it’s going to be a slug fest it’s going to be one of those old Harvard Cup style type of games and I know both sides will be excited about it. I know our kids will come to play and I know Burgard’s kids will come to play. The first game will take place September 6th when everybody is in school so I expect All High to be packed and I expect you to see two types of blue, dark blue and light blue,” said Coach McDuffie.
Bennett opens up the 2013 season on September 6th at All High against Burgard.