Dunmore Coach Kevin McHale Feels Good About Team

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore graduated plenty of seniors from last year’s football team, but head football coach Kevin McHale feels very good about this year’s team.

McHale said between 35 to 40 kids are expected to be on this year’s roster.

Thomas Bowen will return as the Dunmore quarterback in his sophomore season after starting as a freshman.

McHale, a 1996 Dunmore graduate, played four years of football under retired legendary Dunmore coach Jack Henzes. He was an assistant coach under Henzes for several years before becoming the head Dunmore coach when the football icon retired.

McHale is a 2000 graduate of Moravian College in Bethlehem where he received a bachelor of science degree in social sciences. He received his teaching certificate from Marywood University in 2002.

Photo courtesy Rich Banick Photography ©

Married to the former Shelley Higgins, a Dunmore graduate, the couple has two children: Jack, 12, and Colin, 9.

McHale led Dunmore to the District 2 Class 2A championship last year when the Bucks finished 3-2 in the COVID-19 shortened football season. The Bucks lost to Bishop McDevitt in the first round of the state playoffs.

“We graduated a lot of seniors,” said coach McHale. “We are very excited about having Bowen back at quarterback. He did a great job as a freshman. It’s not easy to be a freshman starting quarterback. He worked extremely hard in the off season to better himself. He worked hard in the weight room, with conditioning and by studying a lot of film.

“He is now bigger, stronger, faster, smarter.”

Other key offensive players include senior linemen Austin Brislin, a three year starter; Jake Cicerini, a two way starter who is recovering from an ACL injury; Danny Schmidt, the center; Luciano Calderone, Joe Marzzacco and Blake Schultz who is injured now, sophomore wide receivers Dom DeSando, Danny Pigga and Lorenzo Mitchell and junior running backs Cal Talutto and Josh Malone.

The defense includes senior defensive backs Vinnie Bonavoglia, Liam Crowley, Cameron Reyes and Kieran Reyes, junior linebacker Patrick Pucilowski, senior linebacker Zeake Rosario and sophomore linebackers Nick Donvito and Jake Hickey.

The defensive line includes Brislin, junior Evan Makowski, junior Andrew Fazio, sophomore Braden Ruther and sophomore Nathan Ruther. 

Junior Max Hunt is expected to be the kicker. Junior Nick Pearro and sophomores Rogan Dougherty and Sean Gallagher are in competition for the punting duties.

Cicerini, who is recovering from the ACL injury, is expected to make a big impact at right offensive tackle and left defensive tackle. McHale called him a kid with great character, very coachable and an outstanding teammate. Cicerini, 6-3, 260 pounds, has battled a series of injuries to his right knee throughout his middle and high school football career, but keeps battling back. 

The assistant coaches under McHale are Mike Barrett, Michael Ehnot, Michael Perry, Damon Bowen, Michael Gardier and Colin Holmes. All of the assistant coaches with the exception of Bowen played football at Dunmore.

Michael McDonnell is the head freshman football coach. 

“We are really excited about this coming season,” coach McHale said. “The kids have really prepared themselves for the season. We like where we are at now. Our goal is to win every game, win the district title and then go as far as we can. 

“Our schedule is tough. There are no easy games. We are ready to reach our full potential as a football team.”

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.