By Steve Svetovich
Defense, a strong running game, and timely passing are the keys to the Dunmore Bucks 5-1 start this season.
And senior Nico Ruggiero is bolstering the running game big time from his tailback position. Senior quarterback Tommy Bowen leads the offense.
Nico rushed for 110 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown in Dunmore’s 37-2 romp over Mid Valley on Friday, Sept. 30, at Dunmore Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Mid Valley fell to 2-4 as Dunmore upped its record to 5-1 under coach Kevin McHale.
Nico rushed for 163 yards on 14 carries, including a 54- yard touchdown scamper, in Dunmore’s 24-7 win over Lackawanna Trail, Friday, Sept. 23, at Clinton Township. Nico also had a 69-yard burst up the middle in the first quarter that put the football at the Trail one-yard line for Dunmore.
Nico led the Bucks with 525 rushing yards and six touchdowns last season. He averaged an impressive 4.8 yards per carry. He also snared 14 passes for 209 yards as a receiver last year. Nico earned honorable mention from the Lackawanna Football Conference Division III coaches.
Son of Vito and Chrissy Ruggiero, Nico, 18, has rushed for close to 600 yards and seven touchdowns so far this season.
The multi-talented, hard-working senior also starts on the Dunmore baseball and basketball teams. He is a four-year member of the football, baseball and basketball teams.
As a point guard for the basketball team, Nico averaged 8.0 points and 4.0 assists per game last season. He batted .500 with a homer as a center fielder and pitcher for the Dunmore baseball team last season. He was named team MVP and best pitcher on the Bucks baseball team last year.
The senior scholar-athlete has a 3.7 academic average at Dunmore. Well-rounded, he is a member of TACT, the Health Careers Club, the Earth Club, and French Club. His best subject is economics.
The workhorse tailback talked about what it takes to excel at his position.
“You need to be able to find a hole and have very good lateral speed,” he said.
Nico said Coach McHale has been a strong influence on him. “He always tells me to get right back up after I’m down.”
His parents also have been strong mentors. “They tell me to never give up.”
Nico said he wants to study criminal justice in college and is interested in attending West Chester University or Penn State.
“I want to play baseball in college and possibly go on after college to become a lawyer.”
Nico said he likes the direction the team is going in. “Our goal here at Dunmore is to win a district championship and then try to go further. We are playing great football now. Our defensive line and defense as a whole was outstanding against Mid Valley. We only gave up two points and that was on a bad snap on a punt leading to a safety. So our defense really gave up no points,”
Nico feels on top of the world at Dunmore, “It is like no other experience. I would not want to be anywhere else. It’s home…forever.”