By Steve Svetovich
It was a season to remember in Bucktown.
Veteran football coach Jack Henzes led his Dunmore Bucks to 14 wins, tied for most in team history, before his team suffered its first lost of the season in the Class 2A semifinal against Southern Columbia, 56-19, Friday, December 1.
The Bucks had a couple leads in the first seven minutes of the contest before Southern Columbia reeled off 49 straight points. Southern Columbia is now headed to its 16th state championship game.
Senior running back Frank Damiano led Dunmore with 77 rushing yards, including a 65- yard touchdown run on a burst up the middle in the closing minutes. It was the final carry of his high school career.
The 14-win season was the fourth in Dunmore’s history. The 14-win unbeaten streak was the longest in team’s history, beating the 1985 Eastern Conference title team that finished 13-0.
Only the Valley View Cougars, which won 15 games in its state title run in 1992, won more games in a single season.
Dunmore quarterback Gavin Darcy and linemen Nick Shoemaker, Jerry Longo and Michael Muracco are all members of four straight District 2 championship teams, a run that began in 2014 for the Bucks.
Darcy hit Steve Borgia for a 15-yard touchdown pass on Dunmore’s first play against Southern Columbia giving the Bucks a 6-0 lead. The extra point kick attempt was blocked.
After Southern Columbia took a 7-6 lead, the Bucks came right back when Billy Donvito broke three tackles en route to a 16-yard touchdown run. The extra point kick gave Dunmore a 13-7 lead with 4:47 left in the first quarter.
That was the final highlight for the Bucks until Damiano’s 65-yard touchdown burst with 6:20 left in the contest. The undefeated Southern Columbia team scored 49 unanswered points in the meantime. The Bucks finished the season 14-1.
Dunmore had moved its record to 14-0, with a 23-20 win over Ligonier Valley in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinal at Hershey, Saturday, November 25. The win tied the school record for consecutive wins in a season.
Ligonier Valley had a 14-0 lead after the first quarter, but the Bucks came storming back.
Darcy completed 5-of-10 passes in the win, including a 22-yard touchdown toss to tight end Noah O’Malley in the second quarter. The touchdown and extra point kick tied the game, 14-14, with 7:50 left in the first half.
Damiano, who rushed for 53 yards on 10 carries, scored the Bucks first touchdown on a two-yard burst with 9:19 left in the second quarter.
Dunmore’s Kyle Harrity blocked a punt for a safety giving Dunmore a 16-14 lead five minutes into the third quarter. The play proved to be huge.
The Bucks then scored off the free kick, with Cristian Buckley cutting up the middle after a step to the right for a 24-yard touchdown scamper and a 23-14 lead after the extra point kick by Rinaldi, with 2:54 left in the third quarter. Buckley rushed for 54 yards on 12 carries in the win.
Ligonier Valley drove to the Dunmore five in the closing seconds, but choose to go for a touchdown rather than attempt to tie the game with a field goal on fourth down. A pass dropped incomplete and the Bucks had a 14th straight win.
Shoemaker had a key sack and Nate Fangio made a game saving tackle on Ligonier Valley’s final drive.
Dunmore defeated Newport, 35-6, in the first round of the District 2 Class 2A playoffs Friday, November 19. Damiano ran for two touchdowns and Darcy threw for another, a 59-yard touchdown pass to Fangio, in the win.
Buckley romped for 140 yards on 17 carries. Donvito added 74 rushing yards on 15 jaunts in the win.
The Bucks may have ended the season with a loss, but this group of players and coaches are only winners in the town of Dunmore.
Congratulations on a historic season, Dunmore Bucks.