WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. – No more waiting, no more countdowns. The day has finally come when practices for all fall high school sports start. For Williamsville North High School football, that day couldn’t come soon enough.
“This is the best day of the year. We all work towards this you know you have that big, long offseason and we started just after Thanksgiving. We had a banquet and then that next Monday we were ready to roll. We’ve been going at it since last November,” Head Coach Mike Mammoliti said.
Williamsville North turned many heads last year. The Spartans surged all the way to the state championship game. Along the way, Coach Mammoliti’s squad beat Sweet Home in the Section VI championship game, something that hadn’t been done in seven years. Now it seems another “team to beat” isn’t just Sweet Home but Will North as well.
“Yeah we talked about that. People are going to be looking to prove themselves and we have to come back and prove ourselves too. That’s last year and we use some of those points for different things but for the most part we left that behind us. It’s a new season, it’s a new league for us and a lot of new challenges,” Coach Mammoliti explained.
In order to have a similar season to 2013, senior lineman George Attea explains how the team needs approach each game.
“Just take every game one at a time just like we did last year. I think that’s how we got most of our success done just focusing on each opponent every week,” George Attea said.
This year’s squad will have to make its playoff run without key pieces of last season’s team. One of those departed seniors is Ryan Majewski, Will North’s quarterback from 2013.
“We did lose a few seniors but I have faith that we have the same next man up mentality we had last year where one man came down another one stepped up,” George Attea explained.
Senior linebacker Nick Ames also seems to have confidence in his team’s ability to make a deep postseason run.
“I don’t think it will be any tougher we’re just dealing with a different team so we’re going to have to feel each other out and we’ll see what happens. I think that if we play right we should do well this season,” Nick Ames pointed out.
That playoff run from a year ago may benefit Mike Mammoliti’s group heading into 2014. Senior linebacker Jake Ames points out while it can help, the team can’t dwell on last year’s success.
“I think everybody has a little taste now of what playoffs feel like and what it takes to get there. I think everybody knows that last year was an example and we’ve all got to come out and prove ourselves again this year.
One of the focuses for Coach Mammoliti on day one is getting his message for the season to his players. That message is simple: “Be consistent, every day you have to prove yourself.”
It’s senior leadership that Coach Mammoliti relies on to relay that message to the rest of the team.
“We have to go around to individuals if they’re not going to try and step up. Us as captains have to deliver that message and say hey if you’re not going to step up you better not expect playing time. If you want to play, you have to work hard,” Nick Ames said.
Williamsville North opens up the season on Saturday, September 6th against Grand Island. This is a rematch of the section VI semifinals.