“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.

An Athletic Season that Almost Was Not

Courtesy: Rich Banick Photography

By Zach Albert
Dunmorean Intern

The Dunmore Bucks football team had a definitive start to their season with a win over Wallenpaupack Area on Friday, Oct. 2, but a collective effort on the administrative side made this possible. Working diligently with state health officials and following state guidelines throughout the pandemic, Superintendent John Marichak continually put the safety of his students, coaches, and staff at the top of his priority list.

Offseason workouts for Dunmore typically begin after the December holiday break, so January and February 2020 workouts went ahead as planned. As COVID-19 spread worldwide and a pandemic was declared in early March, shutdowns and changes in procedures did not deter the administration, coaching staff, and players from making needed adjustments.

“The guidelines provided by the CDC, federal, state, and local governments during the COVID-19 pandemic are part of ensuring our students, staff, and faculty remain safe. We also have implemented other recommendations through the diligent work of our school board, athletic directors, Mark Finan, Timothy Hopkins, Maureen Burke, and our maintenance staff,” Marichak points out

“All have been phenomenal in getting our academic and athletic seasons executed as we have thus far while keeping the safety of our students, faculty and staff at the forefront. Though challenges existed in all phases throughout this pandemic, the offseason workouts were able to occur, and we are excited for the regular season to start. Not having spectators will be tough for the students, but they know the community will be behind them.”

With a limited schedule, each game can arguably have “more impact” than a year with ten or more games. After the opener against Wallenpaupack, the Bucks are on the road for the first time against Mid Valley. 

The Bucks return home for the Oct. 16 matchup against Lackawanna Trail, followed by a trip to their old nemesis in Lakeland. Though there will not be a hostile crowd in this Oct. 23 matchup, the pressure of the penultimate game exists. Dunmore finishes the regular season at home against Riverside on Oct. 30, Halloween Eve.

 “Mark Finan, Tim Hopkins, and the school board worked hard with both the LIAA (Lackawanna Interscholastic Athletic Association) and the PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) on scheduling and we are thankful a season schedule was eventually decided and agreed on,” Marichak says.

Doin’ Dunmore: Dunmore Football Players Step up for DePietro’s Pharmacy

Doin Dunmore DePietro's football

By Steve Svetovich 

When the going gets rough, the tough get going. Take the Dunmore football program, for instance.

Tom DePietro, with the Coronavirus emerging in Lackawanna County and with a shutdown in place, knew he could not let customers walk into his Dunmore pharmacy.

But there was still a job to do. He still needed to get his customers needed supplies and medicines during a national pandemic.

So he called Dunmore Bucks football coach Kevin McHale to see if any of his players could help.

Well, within 20 minutes, numerous current and former players texted him.

“I could not believe the immediate response,” the owner of DePietro’s Pharmacy said.

“I made a decision to not allow customers to enter the store for their and my co-workers safety. In a panic, I realized I would need help assisting customers curbside. My first thought was to text coach Kevin McHale.

“Within minutes I had over 20 kids reaching out and offering support. 

“It is truly humbling to see these kids provide care and compassion during a pandemic. They easily could have elected not to get involved. 

“I’m so proud of the kids, their parents, coaches, teachers and Dunmore. Over and over the Dunmore community finds a way to shine. We will all get this together in true Dunmore fashion. The Dunmore community always comes together.”

depietro'sDePietro said the group of current and former Dunmore football players wear protective gear, masks and gloves. “We have a safety huddle before every shift,” he said.

The current and former Dunmore football players who volunteer at DePietro’s Pharmacy include Billy DonVito, Pat DonVito, Keiran Reyes, Zach Cruser, Jerry Sanchez, George Mesko, Kamryn Reyes, Mike Giannetta, Ross Cordaro and Sean Pietruszkiewicz.

Billy DonVito played four years of football at Dunmore, graduating in 2019. He was a freshman end at Springfield College this past year. He was one of the first to volunteer his time.

“When someone who gives so much and reaches out for help,” he said, “it is our job and duty to get there. We rounded up the guys and are going to help till the Pandemic is over. We have three guys always there 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and three there 2 to 6 p.m.

“We wait outside in full gear. We wait for a customer to pull up and we run the order inside the store in a basket. We wear gloves, masks and take all precautions. We have no close interaction with the customers and wipe everything down constantly.

“When we heard there was a chance to help, the word spread quickly and a bunch of us volunteered.”

Coach McHale was not surprised by the turnout. “Community service has always been a big part of our football program,” he said. “Our kids do a great job with it.

“Tom DePietro and DePietro’s Pharmacy are some of our biggest supporters. When Tom was in need of assistance, some of our players were quick to lend a hand.”

The football players go through a daily pre-shift meeting of guidelines they must follow. The guidelines begin with washing and wearing gloves. The young men must stay six feet away from customers and stand to their side. Every so often, they must return to wash their hands again and change gloves.

The business continues to serve hundreds of customers a day during the state-wide shutdown. 

DePietro, a 2002 Dunmore graduate, credited coach McHale and former Dunmore coach Jack Henzes for molding the football players into fine young men.

Not even a national pandemic can pull this community apart.

“These kids’ parents, teachers and coaches raised them right. It’s a credit to these kids, their parents and the whole community.”