Fate of Dunkirk tonight comes down to discipline

If the Dunkirk Marauders football game last Friday ended after three quarters, there would be little to nothing negative to say on the team that led Depew 21-0. However, the fourth quarter saw Depew rally back, but come a two-point conversion short from tying the contest.

Those final 12 minutes put questions on the Marauder team that is returning to the gridiron after a program-best run to the New York State Final Four.

“We let adversity get to us and we have to be able to handle it better,” Dunkirk coach Mike Sarratori said. “We had some things happen, whether they were penalties or fumbles which doesn’t really happen to us that much.

“We just lost our discipline,” the coach continued. “What I told the kids is that we have to learn from that and when adversity hits, we have to handle it better as a group.”

The Achilles heel for Week 1 may have a great impact against today’s matchup on the road versus Springville. The Griffins run a unique offense that requires the Marauders to be, you guessed it, disciplined.

“What I do know about them is that every time we go down to Springville, it’s a battle,” Sarratori said. “They’re a very, very well coached team and they run the triple option to perfection. If we are not disciplined, we are in a lot of trouble. In the fourth quarter, we were not disciplined on the offensive or defensive end this past game.”

Dunkirk will continue what it is best at and has commonly been best at, which is to run the ball. Starting running back Tywon Wright led the team with 92 yards and a score, as Quantavis Kleckley had 10 carries for 48 yards. Although the running game was stellar once again, it was the ability to end the play with possession of the ball that hindered the offense.

The Marauders had three fumbles in the game versus Depew, something Sarratori puts emphasis on every year and every Monday.

“No. 1, we stress it every Monday. We have a conditioning drill that we do. We call it high and tight and that’s all they hear from me for around 15 minutes every Monday through the year,” the coach said. “We also have a 10-15 minute, individual time, every day that they get ball handling drills. It’s not something that we ignore. … We have to figure that problem out quickly though.”

For the first three quarters, Dunkirk was the team Sarratori hoped and coached to get. Mistake-free football all starts with Dunkirk’s running game. The Marauders started getting the mentality that they can run through any defense, regardless of the front (which means how many defenders are lined up close to the line of scrimmage). That carried over to the fall and especially, into Week 1.

“We are totally committed to the run,” Sarratori said. “We feel we can run and our kids believe we can run against seven-man fronts, eight-man fronts, nine-man fronts. We’ve seen 10-man fronts.”

The opposition’s focus on stopping the run may come with difficulty as Dunkirk’s quarterback Jaziah Rivera started the season hot completing 3 of 4 throws and racking up 104 yards.

The Marauders’ focus going into Springville will not only be the triple option, but the big man hiking the ball.

“The person we are really concerned about on both sides of the ball — and even on special teams because he is a kicker — is No. 75 (Michael Hannon Jr.),” Sarratori said. “He’s a big strong kid, who played there last year. He’s tough to handle and we are definitely going to have our work cut out and if we can’t control him we are in a lot of trouble.”

Hannon plays center, defensive tackle and kicker, according to maxpreps.com.

Besides fumbling less, coach Sarratori sees the trenches becoming stronger after this week’s practices. Despite the success the offense had, the coach believes there is still room to grow.

“I am hoping our offensive line improves. We had some troubles with our offensive line. I really believe that our big stride this week will be with our offensive line,” the Dunkirk coach said. “I couldn’t really ask for anything more from our backs, other than more ball security, but I think from Week 1 to Week 2, I am hoping and expecting our line to make that big jump.”

The game will kick off at 7 p.m. in Springville. Springville’s football field is located behind the high school at 290 North Buffalo St., Springville.

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