Ancient rivalry revisited tonight

Fredonia-Westfield-Brocton stands in the way of a perfect Dunkirk regular season

Fredonia-Westfield-Brocton’s Brendan Plaister

A week after clinching its first league title since 1974, Dunkirk (6-0, 4-0) will look to close out a perfect regular season tonight against arch rival Fredonia-Westfield-Brocton (2-4, 1-3) at 7:30 p.m. at Karl Hoeppner Field.

“We haven’t talked about the undefeated part of it,” Dunkirk head coach Mike Sarratori said. “This isn’t just coming from the coaching staff, this is coming from the kids, too. They’re not looking past Fredonia at all, but we have talked and they have talked about making sure that we keep improving, because whatever team we face, we definitely have to play better than we are playing. So I think we’ve been working all week to make sure we’re better for the playoffs and to make sure we’re better for (tonight).”

The Badgers will just be looking to close out their season on a high note by sending the Marauders into the playoffs next week with a bad taste in their mouths.

“We think we have a good idea of how to stop them,” F-W-B head coach Greg Sherlock said. “How we execute is another thing. We can’t mimic what they do. (Dunkirk) may be the one team that is so good athletically, that putting our scout team out there really doesn’t do them any justice. A lot of times, the speed of the game Dunkirk brings is going to be very new to our kids.”

As prepared as Sherlock believes his player will be, he still knows the Marauders, who will enter the game ranked 13th in the latest New York State Sportswriters’ Association Class B poll, present a challenge a Badgers may not have seen thus far.

Dunkirk’s Devaun Farnham-DeJesus.

“They’re real athletic,” Sherlock said of Dunkirk. “Everything we’ve seen on film shows that they are very well coached, they do a great job on the (offensive) line, they get off the ball and they have about eight running backs and any one of them can break loose at any time. Our hands are obviously going to be full.”

As for Dunkirk, Sarratori knows the type of team Dunkirk will be facing tonight.

“What I have seen on film is a tough, tough football team that has been in every game,” Sarratori said of F-W-B. “The last game probably wasn’t as indicative of the score Akron won by, but they have been in every game. They have played tough, tough defense and they have a lot of numbers, a lot of size and they’re a tough, scrappy team.”

Offensively, for the Marauders, the Badgers can expect a lot of the usual gameplan.

“We are going to definitely stick to what we’re good at, but we’re definitely going to have to add some spice to it,” Sarratori said. “And just play mistake-free football. Our big thing is making sure we do the basics really well. It may look boring to some people, but we’re going to do the basics well and try to maintain ball possession like we always do.”

Sherlock, on the other hand, knows what to expect from the Marauders defensively.

“(Dunkirk) gets to the ball quick,” he said. “We’ve worked on trying to get off the ball a little differently that we normally have. Hopefully it’s enough to be able to move the ball and stay in the game. Hopefully it comes down to the fourth quarter.”

To stop the Badgers, Sarratori believes he knows exactly what his Marauders will have to do to be successful.

“Let’s put it this way, we need to tackle better, period,” Sarratori said. “They have a bunch of skilled kids that can break (a run) at any moment and there are times during the year that they have. So we definitely need to tackle better and it’s been our biggest concern all week and what we have been stressing.”

Despite the playoffs being right around the corner, Sarratori said he had no problems keeping his team motivated for tonight.

“It was easy to motivate them and easy for them to stay on task this week,” Sarratori said. “We gave them Saturday off last week after our game and the kids didn’t have school Monday or Tuesday, but we had practice, so it was an easier kind of Monday and Tuesday because they didn’t have school. They came ready to work and really put a good week in.”

This is the second year Dunkirk will square off against the combined Fredonia-Westfield-Brocton squad, but Sarratori sees no difference, or change in intensity, of the rivalry.

“We’ve talked about that aspect of it all week,” Sarratori said of the rivalry. “This is something that they are going to remember for the rest of their lives and something that their families are going to talk about. Who knows, they might end up marrying a Fredonia girl, so it’s bragging rights for the rest of their lives. We’re not overlooking Fredonia at all. This is a huge game for us.”

Sherlock, who is in his first year as the F-W-B coach, sees things a little differently, however.

“Our kids show up every day,” Sherlock said. “They are really excited for it. My wife is from Dunkirk, we live in Dunkirk, but I’m from Randolph. I coached at Randolph and Jamestown and we didn’t really have the rivalry that Dunkirk and Fredonia have. I think it’s a little watered down having Westfield and Brocton kids. They don’t have the same intensity toward it. I don’t just coach Fredonia kids, so I don’t think it’s the rivalry that everybody wants in Dunkirk and Fredonia because of the merger, but I’m sure it will still be quite intense, because some of these kids know each other.

“Dunkirk has done a great job and they have a lot of good athletes,” he continued. “And I’ve noticed that for years. (Mike) Sarratori has done a great job and (Bob) Krenzer has been around for a long time. He coached against me when I was in high school and he’s done a great job wherever he has gone. We can’t wait for the game to get here and see how we match up.”