Dunkirk opens up 2018 with Eden/NC tonight

The Friday night lights will be back on in Dunkirk tonight, as the first varsity football game of the season kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Dunkirk High School. The Marauders host Eden/North Collins in a Class B3 football matchup between two teams that are not very familiar with each other.

“We don’t know what to expect, so we have to focus on what we do well, and playing mistake-free football,” said Dunkirk head coach Mike Sarratori. “It should be a very interesting first game of the year.”

With the divisions changing around a bit headed into the 2018 season, Dunkirk is now in Class B3, along with Fredonia/Brocton, but every other team in the division is a new opponent for Dunkirk. Still, the Marauders have high expectations coming into the 2018 season.

“We have high expectations for ourselves,” said Sarratori. “This first game is very exciting, it’s always exciting playing at home in Dunkirk.”

Eden/North Collins is coming off a 1-8 season in 2017, but a new coach has taken over — Rick Weber, a former Gowanda assistant, according to Sarratori. He expects the Raiders to be very excited, as well.

“I know they’ll be very excited,” said Sarratori. “They have good numbers on their team this year. I’m sure they want to prove something in their first game for their new coach.”

Despite not seeing much game film on its first opponent, Dunkirk has a few key spots to focus on from the opposition.

“They have a slot receiver who is tall and athletic,” said Sarratori. “They have a heck of a runner and passer in their quarterback, and their tailback is impressive, as well. Defensively, they have three defensive tackles who all have size, and they have size at linebacker, as well.”

Colton Stetz, a senior captain, returns in 2018 after starting at quarterback for the Raiders last season. Tyler Robinson, a junior, is listed at 6 foot 3 as a wide receiver and defensive back.

Regardless of what Eden/North Collins throws at the Marauders, Sarratori firmly believes the focal point of the game is the offensive line of the Dunkirk Marauders.

“You win or lose games on the offensive line,” said Sarratori. “We’ll go as far as our offensive line will take us.”

Dunkirk will have a new man for the line to protect this season, as Phil Messina has taken over as starting quarterback for the Marauders in 2018.Messina will have plenty of weapons to utilize around him on offense, including Conrad Thomas, Koty Leeper, Kayin Odebralski and Tywon Wright, an All-State selection in 2017. Peyton Moreland will also play an important role as the fullback this season.

“The talent has always been here in Dunkirk,” said Sarratori.

Dunkirk has the talent to come away with the win on Friday night. Now it just comes down to execution on the field.

“Athletically, we’re better than them,” said Sarratori. “If we do what we do best, we’ll be fine.”

Twitter: @bradencarmen