By Steve Svetovich
He has huge shoes to fill and he knows it, but the new Dunmore Bucks head football coach learned from the best.
Kevin McHale played football at Dunmore High School under legendary coach Jack Henzes. He then went on to serve for 17 years as an assistant football coach under the now retired football icon.
Coach Henzes retired recently for health reasons. He finished second to George Curry in career high school football wins in the state. He was a constant at Dunmore since 1971 after spending a few years coaching at Wyoming Area.
McHale is honored to be chosen to succeed his mentor.
“It’s just a tremendous honor to succeed Jack Henzes,” he said. “This is a big loss to us. He was extremely knowledgable. We learned from him. We learned about football on and off the field from him. We will miss his presence and leadership. He was a great leader and an example to the kids.
“I am very fortunate to have played under coach Henzes and got to coach under him for 17 years. It is a great benefit while taking over this job.”
All of Dunmore’s assistant coaches either played and/or coached under coach Henzes. Dunmore assistant coaches under McHale include Mike Barrett, Mike DeSando, Jeff Mills, Miller Holmes, Justin Mitchell, Michael Perry, Michael Gardier, Nick Lawler, Mike Moracco, Colin Holmes and Sean Watson.
“We have a great staff of assistant coaches here at Dunmore,” said McHale. “These coaches really work hard to help the kids.”
McHale filled in for Henzes during his illness last season when the Bucks finished 9-4. Dunmore won the district title with a win over Susquehanna. The Bucks lost to West Catholic in the opening round of the state playoffs.
“Our goals this year are simple,” said coach McHale. “We want to reach our full potential as a team. After that, everything just takes care of itself.
“We obviously want to win the league title and the district title. And then we want to go on and win the state title. That is always the goal.”
Key returning players this season include senior quarterback Steve Borgia, senior offensive and defensive lineman Shamus Cadden, senior wide receiver/defensive back Charles Valvano, senior wide receiver/defensive back Tommy Lewis, senior defensive back/running back Rayshawn Dawkins, junior running back/defensive back Christian Buckley, senior offensive and defensive lineman Anthony Golden, senior offensive and defensive lineman Alec Yanisko, senior wide receiver/defensive back Nick Stanko and senior offensive and defensive lineman John Kalinowski.
Other key players will be junior tight end Nick Waters, junior punter/tight end Dominick Temparino, junior kicker Peyton Badyrka, junior tight end Michael Burke, junior fullback/linebacker Karl Kincel and junior tackle Dylan Aquino.
Coach McHale said the quarterback position is in strong hands with senior stalwart Borgia. “He is a great kid, smart, a great student. He’s a great leader on this team. We expect him to have an outstanding season. He has a nice arm.”
Coach McHale said he thinks the Bucks will have a strong running game. “These guys are really prepared and practice very hard. Buckley, Dawkins, Kincel and the rest have the right appetite and preparation to be successful.”
The new head coach expects Dunmore to be strong defensively. “The guys work hard on defense. As we get more into practice, we will evaluate the defense and see who fits in where. We should be very good.”
Coach McHale said he feels good about the kicking and punting game. Borgia, very athletic, serves as a backup punter. “We also have a lot of competition among a kickers.”
Coach McHale said Aquino played a few games last season and then got hurt. “We expect him to come back strong this year and play a key role at wide receiver. He showed some promise last year before he was injured.”
Coach McHale knows he is succeeding a Dunmore legend, but looks forward to the challenges. “Our senior class has prepared hard for the upcoming season. They invested their time to put the work in. We have a very reliable group.
“It is tough to see coach Henzes have to retire due to health issues. But we all learned from him. He is a part of all of us. That only helps us. It’s an asset. This is going to be a solid football team. Our goal is always to win.”