Tonawanda News — The Marauders have one of the toughest schedules in Western New York. It includes three games each against league rivals Canisius, St. francis and Nichols, as well as non-league games against Orchard Park, Williamsville North, East Aurora and an home and away against Aquinas.
— Matt Parrino
Cardinal O'Hara is readying for its first season under new head coach Tom Appenheimer with an athletic team which will be searching for its soccer identity.
It's a fact Appenheimer is facing optimistically after a conversation with team captain Zach Morris.
"Zach said there aren't as many soccer players as there have been in the past but there are a lot more athletes," Appenheimer said. "Athletes can hide what they don't know how to do by doing what they can do really well."
Which isn't to say the Hawks won't be able to dazzle with ball skill. Appenheimer marvels at the composure and skill of Morris along with teammates David Gariano and Daniel Luttinger, but is also impressed with how a varied in experience roster is coming together.
"We have 6-7 kids who've been playing soccer forever, then we have another five kids who haven't played since before middle school and then we have some kids, including my goaltender, who haven't ever played soccer," Appenheimer said.
Appenheimer thinks a 3-4-3 formation will be the best to showcase his new charges and expects the Hawks can win their fair share of games, but first he'll be trying to build a culture for the O'Hara program, and building it in steps.
"Winning is important but as important is getting the character stuff out there," said Appenheimer, a member of the Canisius College Athletics Hall of Fame. "This week's concept I'm trying to get into their head is collective responsibility. We're all responsible for our own positions but we're also responsible for the team."
In the very short time Appenheimer's been at the helm of the team, the players have made a unified impression on their new coach. They're attentive, athletic and ambitious.
"We've got a great group of kids and they seem to be getting it," Appenheimer said.
— Nick MendolaFind @tonanewssports and sports editor @MattParrino on Twitter for complete high school sports coverage.