Athlete of the Month: Cristian Buckley

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore senior tailback Cristian Buckley is making the most of a short season.

With the regular season shortened to five games due to COVID-19, the senior stalwart totaled over 1,000 rushing yards in just five regular season games en route to Dunmore capturing a seventh consecutive District 2 title.

Cristian, 18, rushed for 208 yards on 18 carries, including a 66-yard touchdown run with 29 seconds left in the first half that broke a 15-15 tie in Dunmore’s 57-15 route over Riverside Friday, October 30, at Dunmore.

With Lackawanna Trail’s loss the following day to Old Forge, Dunmore earned the District 2 Class 2A title and a trip to the state playoffs. 

Cristian rushed for an astounding 313 yards in Dunmore’s first win over Wallenpaupack. He also rushed for 212 yards in the Bucks win over Mid Valley, giving the senior stalwart three games of over 200 yards rushing. 

Son of Connie and Michael Buckley, Cristian said he is hopeful of playing Division I college football. He applied to Bryant University in Rhode Island where he hopes to be accepted, play football and study business management. 

The star tailback said he has learned a lot from Dunmore head football coach Kevin McHale. “He teaches us not only about football, but about life and life lessons,” said Cristian. “He teaches us how to overcome adversity and never give up.”

Cristian said his parents also teach him to never give up.

The quick, explosive back has six touchdowns, five rushing and one receiving, this season. He now has over 3,000 career rushing yards. 

“It was great getting to 1,000 yards in a five game season,” he said. “It was my first year rushing for 1,000 yards. But I could not have accomplished this without my teammates. I have a great offensive line and our fullback, Karl Kincel, is an outstanding blocker.”

He talked about what it takes to excel as a tailback in high school football. “It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance. You also need to be a leader on and off the field.”

Cristian said he has worked hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I concentrated more on my studies and worked a lot.” The senior scholar-athlete maintains an academic average in the mid 90s and works at Schautz Stadium, Dunmore.

He is Vice President of the Health Careers Club at Dunmore.

“I want to play football at the college level, hopefully Division I,” he said.

“My goal is to be successful in life.”

Cristian enjoys listening to music in his spare time and would like to see Lil’ Wayne in concert.

The senior football standout said he will play basketball for the first time in his high school career this year. He will also participate in track and field for the first time since eighth grade. “Why not?,” he said. “It is good to be active during these times. It gives me something to do and work hard to accomplish.” 

Cristian is more than enjoying his time at Dunmore High School. “I would not trade it for anything else in the world,” he said. “No doubt. We always look at the bright side here.” 

District 2 Champion Dunmore Stomps Over Riverside

By Steve Svetovich

A potent running attack led by Cristian Buckley and Karl Kincel powered Dunmore to a 57-15 win over Riverside, Friday, October 30, at home.

The win gave the Bucks a final 3-2 regular season record under second year head football coach Kevin McHale. A district title and trip to the state playoffs was secured the following day. 

Lackawanna Trail’s 34-19 loss to Old Forge, Saturday, October 31, elevated Dunmore to District 2 Class 2A champion and a state playoff game for the Bucks. 

Buckley, quick, explosive and shifty, rambled for 208 yards on 18 carries, including a 66-yard touchdown burst with 29 seconds left in the first half to break a 15-15 tie. It was the talented senior’s third game over 200 yards rushing and moved his season total to over 1,000 yards on the ground in only five games. Buckley, hoping to play college football on the Division I level, has over 3,000 career rushing yards at Dunmore. 

Fullback Kincel added to the brutal running attack with 101 yards rushing, including two touchdowns. He scored a touchdown on a 68-yard sprint in the second quarter and added another tally on a four-yard burst in the third quarter. 

“Riverside is a good football team with an excellent quarterback,” said Dunmore head coach McHale. “We got off to a slow start, but gained some momentum in the second quarter. 

“From that point on we played well in all three phases, offense, defense, special teams. 

“We are very proud that our kids have been able to capture our seventh straight District 2 championship.” 

The Bucks totaled 338 yards on the ground behind a dominant offensive line.

Dunmore rallied from an early 15-0 deficit to score 57 unanswered points.

Riverside senior quarterback Johnny Gilchrist hit freshman Reese Gaughan with a 12-yard touchdown pass with 8:08 left in the first quarter. The extra point kick gave Riverside an early 7-0 lead over Dunmore.

A two-yard Gilchrist touchdown plunge followed by a two-point conversion on a pass play gave Riverside a 15-0 lead with 10:11 left in the second quarter.

Gilchrist completed 20-of-37 passes for 350 yards, 263 in the first half, for Riverside. 

Trailing 15-0, Dunmore scored its first touchdown with 9:08 left in the second quarter on a Thomas Bowen one-yard plunge. Peyton Badyrka booted the extra point. 

With the Vikings up 15-7, Riverside was about to force a Dunmore punt with just over four minutes left in the half. However, a roughing the punter penalty against the Vikings, gave Dunmore a break and a first down.

Kincel took advantage by breaking a tackle and scampering to the left sideline for a 68-yard touchdown run. Buckley then ran into the end zone for the two-point conversion and the game was tied, 15-15, with 4:05 left in the first half.

Senior standout Buckley bolted for his 66-yard go-ahead touchdown run with 29 seconds left in the first half. The two-point conversion run failed, but the Bucks had a 21-15 lead at the half.

A Bowen one-yard run followed by Buckley’s two-point conversion run gave Dunmore a 29-15 lead with 10:33 left in the third quarter.

Danny Pigga’s 14-yard bolt followed by Badyrka’s extra point kick gave the Bucks a 36-15 lead with 5:59 left in the third quarter.

Kincel’s four-yard burst followed by Badyrka’s PAT gave Dunmore a 43-15 lead with 2:12 left in the third quarter. 

A David Reilly 65-yard interception return followed by Badyrka’s extra point kick gave Dunmore a 50-15 lead with 11:45 left in the fourth quarter. 

Liam Crolly’s 22-yard gallop followed by the always reiiable Badyrka’s extra point kick gave the Bucks a 57-15 advantage with 2:46 left in the contest. 

The Bucks defense tightened up in the second half against Riverside stalwart signal caller Gilchrist. Bucks senior Dom Temperino, always clutch, sacked Gilchrist twice and Kincel added another forcing a desperation throw leading to Reilly’s 65-yard touchdown dash on his interception return.

Kincel, a tough two-way performer, showed no effects from a hand injury he suffered early in the season.

“Successful” Offseason Brings Excitement for Bucks, Coach McHale

Bucks Coach Kevin McHale is shown with his sons, Colin, 8, and Jack, 11, at the stadium in Dunmore.

Courtesy: Rich Banick Photography

By Zach Albert
Dunmorean Intern

In a borough that has strong pride in its football history, Dunmore has an energy around the beginning of each season that Dunmoreans never forget. As a winning culture has existed since the days of Coach Jack Henzes, Coach Kevin McHale uses Henzes’ “invaluable” knowledge and experiences to continue leading his team to success.

Despite 2020 having about two months without any COVID-19 guidelines, preparation for the season remained the cornerstone throughout. “From January on, attendance turnout has been great and has been maintained, even since the beginning of shutdowns and implementing online meetings and face shields,” McHale says.

Coach McHale emphasized a “day-by-day” mentality with his players and staff, while maximizing the reps available. “Usually we would have as many reps as possible, but with the health guidelines limiting the amount of them, we are doing the best we can with face shields and other protective measures.”

While physical preparation and conditioning are important to success in game situations, mental preparation is just as important. The intangibles of team chemistry and the unwillingness to give up are two that Coach McHale has noticed in his players this offseason. 

“Our senior class leadership has been exceptional. We have a great mix of talent and knowledge from over ten returning players and new players with skills in other sports, and we as coaches expect all to contribute,” he notes.

Challenges certainly existed for Coach McHale and his staff, aa there were times the football season was in jeopardy. As meetings were typically in closed spaces with the team, staggered schedule starts and online meetings were implemented to prevent losing these meetings altogether. 

“The student players have kept their heads up throughout the offseason despite the challenges and changes put upon them. A real threat of canceling the season a few months ago did not stop them.”

With the season now starting at home with Wallenpaupack, the Bucks will experience a shortened season, and Coach McHale is confident his team is as ready as they can be going in. 

UPDATE: The Dunmore Bucks opened their season on Friday, Oct. 2, with a 17-6 win over Wallenpaupack Area.