By Steve Svetovich
Dunmore High School began this season with Jack Henzes sidelined with a heart ailment, but is moving forward with hopes of having the legendary coach back.
Kevin McHale, Dunmore’s defensive coordinator, is the team’s interim head coach during Henzes’ absence.
Dunmore began this season with a 31-0 loss to Scranton Prep on Friday, August 24, but bounced back quickly with a 33-0 win over Mid Valley on Friday, August 31.
Charles Valvano recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff and just 14 seconds later quarterback Steve Borgia connected with Greg McDade for a 25-yard touchdown pass. The extra point kick attempt was blocked.
Borgia had 75 yards passing for two touchdowns and 59 yards rushing for a touchdown in the win. Sophomore Peyton Badyrka kicked the extra point.
Borgia scored on a one-yard plunge with 8:03 left in the second quarter.
A 31-yard scramble by Borgia set up a four-yard touchdown pass to Christian Buckley to cap a 25-second drive right before the half.
Badyrka booted the extra point and Dunmore had a commanding 20-0 lead at the half.
After running back Billy Donvito left the game with a shoulder injury, Ralph Tolley stepped in and broke numerous tackles for a 31-yard touchdown run to open the second half. Badyrka hit on the extra point kick with 9:56 left in the third quarter.
The Dunmore offensive line opened up a hole for Kyle Harrity who rambled into the end zone on a 16-yard touchdown run to seal the win with 4:58 left in the contest. The extra point kick attempt failed.
The tight Dunmore defense held the Spartans to eight rushing yards and only four first downs.
Buckley rushed for 77 yards on nine carries.
“The effort was there the first game,” said coach McHale, “but there was no result. We corrected our mistakes and came back strong against Mid Valley. We will continue to get better each day.”
Henzes, when he comes back, will be in his 52nd year of coaching. He has 435 career wins, just 20 behind all-time state leader George Curry. Curry coached mostly at Berwick, but also Lake Lehman.
Besides coach McHale, other assistants at Dunmore are Jeff Mills, Michael DeSando, Mike Barrett, Miller Holmes, Justin Mitchell and Michael Perry.
Key players on Dunmore this season include senior tight end-middle linebacker George Mesko, senior defensive end-fullback Kyle Harrity, senior defensive end-tight end Tyler Overheit, senior fullback-linebacker Billy Donvito, senior wide receiver-cornerback Greg McDade,senior offensive and defensive lineman Jake Sawka, junior quarterback-punter Steve Borgia, sophomore running back-defensive back Christian Buckley, junior wide receiver-defensive back Charles Valvano, senior offensive and defensive lineman Louis LaCapra, senior lineman Anthony Santarsiero, senior lineman Anthony Kashner and sophomore kicker Peyton Badyrka.
“Our goal here is to win the league title, district title and go as far as we can in the state playoffs,” said coach McHale.
“We expected to bounce back from the first game loss. We have great senior leadership here.”
Quarterback Borgia was a wide receiver for the Bucks last season. “He was a very good receiver for us,” said McHale. “He was All-League. He is an excellent athlete and a great leader. He has some nice receivers to throw to here.”
The coaching staff has high hopes for sophomore back Buckley.
“He rushed for 500 yards and three touchdowns in limited action as a freshman last year. He was out for a few games with an injury.
“He worked very hard in the off season to come back strong. He really looks good so far. We expect big things from him this year.”
Coach McHale said he expects the team defense to continue to improve. “With each game, we will continue to work hard to get better. And we will.”
McHale said the team is working hard with Henzes out, but looks forward to having the iconic head coach back. “The team misses coach Henzes. He is a great example for all of our guys. We are hoping he comes back this season. But it is one day at a time for him as he recuperates.
“We are doing our best to fill the void and keep the intensity level up. We are trying to keep things simple.”
Dunmore is the defending District 2 Class 2A champion and has claim to the last four district titles.
Dunmore tied a school record with 14 wins advancing to the PIAA Class 2A semifinal last year. Henzes led Dunmore to 29 straight regular season wins prior to the opening night loss this year to Prep.
Henzes, who is currently recovering from heart valve surgery, has been head football coach at Dunmore since 1971 after spending four years as head coach at Wyoming Area (1966-1969). He began his coaching career as an assistant at Blakely High School under his late dad, Papa Bear Henzes.
His career coaching record is 435-160-8.