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.

Athlete of the Month: Cristian Buckley

Athlete of the Month - Cristian BuckleyBy Steve Svetovich

Dunmore junior tailback-defensive back Cristian Buckley always knew he had big shoes to fill, and he is more than seizing the opportunity.

Son of Connie Buckley, Cristian’s two older brothers, Michael Perry, 28, now working for Signa Insurance, and Daiqwon Buckley, 22, now a Dunmore police officer, were both All-State backs for Dunmore.

With one year of high school football left, Cristian has already earned All League Athlete of the Year for football the past two consecutive seasons. He was also an All League defensive back last season. 

A member of the Health Careers Club at Dunmore, he plans on running track for the first time this year. He has an impressive 3.7 academic average. His best subject is chemistry. 

Cristian, 17, scored three touchdowns, two on passes and one on a run, in Dunmore’s 42-7  District 2, Class 2A win over Mid Valley. 

He rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in Dunmore’s 28-13 District 2, Class 2A, PIAA first round loss to Bishop McDevitt. He also intercepted a pass. 

“We really stepped in up after a slow start this season,” Cristian said. “We can attribute the success we had to the seniors stepping up and then the younger players coming through. It came through hard work and practice.”

Humble and hard working in nature, the junior stalwart said he has learned a lot from Dunmore football coach Kevin McHale. “I have learned so much from coach McHale,” he said. “He teaches us not only about football, but about life lessons too. I can’t say enough about him.”

Cristian said former Dunmore football coach Jack Henzes is still around the locker room before and after games. “It is a great feeling that he is still there.”

Cristian talked about what it takes to be the third brother to excel at running back at Dunmore. 

JVfootball“There is a lot of pressure and expectations, but that helps me become a better football player. I have to work that much harder to live up to the expectations. It makes me better.”

Cristian said his mom serves as an example to him. “I have learned a lot from my mom. She is my inspiration. She teaches me if you want something, you can’t sit back. You have to work hard and go after it.”

Cristian talked about his future goals. “I want our football team to win a state title next year. And I know we can do it. And then I want to play football in college and graduate with a degree in Math or Science. I want to get a good job after college.”

The scholar-athlete enjoys listening to music in his spare time and would like to see Lil’ Wayne in concert.

Cristian, a multiple threat, rushed for over 700 yards and totalled over 400 yards receiving while also excelling at his defensive back position this past season. 

Cristian said he loves Dunmore High School and living in Dunmore.

“I love it in this town,” he said. “I love going to school here. Everybody knows each other. The kids, coaches and teachers are great. It’s the best place to be.”