Tonawanda News — Kenmore East’s football program hasn’t had much success over the last few years, winning a combined four games in 2011 and 2012.
But Bulldogs coach Matt Chimera believes that this season will result in a playoff berth — one that has been a long time coming for his team.
“Our goal every year is to make the playoffs. We’ve only done that a couple of times, maybe twice in the last 10 years,” Chimera said. “But we definitely think that we can make it to postseason play this year, and then go from there.”
“We just have to take it one game at a time. If we do that, we’ll be successful.”
If the Bulldogs want to return to postseason play, they’ll need to fill a few holes in their lineup, especially on their offensive line. The team will need to replace Jared Dolan and Nate Weller — both Class A North first team selections last season — and former starters Aaron Barraclough and Joe Cole.
“The bad news is we lost a couple of key kids. But we have more back than what we lost,” Chimera said. “At the beginning of last year, I told everybody we’re going to be decent, but it’s just going to take a while to become pretty good because we had a lot of kids up from the JV.
“I don’t care what anyone says. I’ve been doing this long enough (to know), you don’t just step in and play this game. You need the experience.”
Experience will come in the form of key seniors Connor McMahon, the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback and Preston Smith, a running back and linebacker.
“McMahon is certainly going to be a key player for us at quarterback. Because he’ll be a three-year starter for us, we’re going to rely on his experience and his ability quite a bit,” Chimera said. “Smith is going to be another three-year starter for us and we’ll count on him quite a bit too. Those guys are good, athletic kids that contributed heavily last year and will be vital to us this year as well.”
Also expected to chip in are running back Kurt McGowan and offensive lineman Matt Rymarczyk — two juniors who stepped into the Bulldogs’ lineup last season and made a difference.
“Rymarczyk started for us as a sophomore last year and played well. He’s a good player,” Chimera said. “McGowan also had a nice year for us as a 10th grader. Those guys are just a few kids who are all in the mix as far as needing to step up and contribute this season.”
Last season, the Bulldogs finished their campaign by winning the Funke Memorial Bowl Series Class A championship. However, winning a bowl game isn’t satisfying enough for Chimera and his players.
“We finished on a really high note last year when we won the Funke Memorial Bowl, but that’s not enough,” Chimera said. “Hopefully, that excitement should continue into this year and give us a positive start.”
“Last year, we had a touch of success and winning breeds (confidence). People want to put more effort in,” McMahon said. “This year, we don’t want to be in bowl games, even though it was a good experience. We want to be in the Section VI playoffs and go from there.”2013 Bulldogs • Last season's record: 4-4 • Head coach: Matt Chimera • KEY PLAYERS: Connor McMahon, Sr. QB, Preston Smith, Sr. RB/LB, Kurt McGowan, Jr. RB, Matt Rymarczyk, Jr. OL. • KEY LOSSES: Jared Dolan, OL, Nate Weller, OL, Aaron Barraclough, OL, Joe Cole, OL.