Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda football team and its brand new coach Tony Truilizio barely had time for introductions before the start of last season.
Truilizio was hired in March and didn’t finish filling out his coaching staff until late May. He then had only a few short months to get to know his players and implement his system. Offseason training and conditioning took a back seat and by the start of the season four starters had suffered major injuries and the Lumberjacks stumbled to a 2-5 record before winning their final two games in the Chuck Funke Bowl Series postseason tournament.
This year has already been much different for NT.
“We had a strong offseason with a lot of guys showing a dedication to the program,” said senior lineman Ryan Osborn. “There’s been a lot more camaraderie between the players and there is a lot more faith in the system after a couple of switches between coaches.”
Osborn and Truilizio both said that the familiarity between players and coaches has been evident by the cohesiveness of both the offense and defense throughout camp and in the team’s scrimmage.
The Jacks also enter the 2013 season with only one serious injury, but that one injury will have a big impact on both sides of the ball. Junior running back Nehemiah Stone suffered a strained ACL injury early in camp and is expected to be out until Week 3, which is good news for Truilizio and NT because early rumors were that Stone would be unavailable this season.
Truilizio said Stone is a big contributor for the Jacks and his explosive running ability will be missed until he returns.
“He’s a game changer. Nehemiah is a tremendous athlete for us and I think he’s an All-Western New York player,” Truilizio said. “Not having him on both offense and defense, you’ll notice a difference there.”