“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.

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.”

Bucks Win District Title, But Lose to Bishop McDevit in PIAA playoffs

DHS Coach - Bucks football 3

Rich Banick Photography ©

By Steve Svetovich

Coach Kevin McHale and his Dunmore Bucks finished the season strong, winning another district title, but lost to Bishop McDevitt, 28-13, in the PIAA Class 2A first round contest Friday, November 15.

Dunmore defeated Mid Valley, 42-7, to win the District 2, Class 2A title the week before. Junior back Cristian Buckley scored three touchdowns, two receiving and one rushing, in the district title win.

Dunmore beat Susquehanna, 48-20, in the District 2, Class 2A semifinal, Friday, November 1, at Dunmore. Rayshaun Dawkins rushed for 173 yards and 6 touchdowns in the win. 

Athlete of the Month - Cristian Buckley

Cristian Buckley

Buckley rushed for 104 yards on 17 carries in the loss to Bishop McDevitt. He scored a touchdown on a 36-yard run. 

Dawkins rushed for 85 yards on 14 carries in the loss to Bishop McDevitt. He scored a touchdown on a 10-yard run. 

The Bucks rallied from a two touchdown deficit in the first half, but fell short against Bishop McDevitt in the state playoff contest.

“We never wavered or drifted,” said coach McHale. “That’s been the story of our season.”

Dunmore, after an 0-2 start this season, had a late season surge en route to the district title.

Dunmore’s Dylan Aquino recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff of the state playoff contest, but the Bucks could not capitalize. 

The Bucks fumbled at the Royal Lancers 45 and then Corey Wright-Downing snared a 44-yard touchdown pass from University of Buffalo recruit Lonnie Rice with 6:47 left in the first quarter. The extra point kick was blocked.

Another Dunmore fumble led to Rice’s 22-yard touchdown strike to Ty Tindal. Dunmore’s David Reilly blocked the extra point kick attempt again and the Bucks were down, 12-0, with 8:39 left in the half.

Following five Dunmore runs, Buckley bolted through the right side and scored on a 36-yard run with 5:19 left in the half. Peyton Badyrka’s extra point kick attempt was wide and the Bucks were down, 12-6.

Buckley intercepted a Rice pass attempt giving the Bucks good field position on its 46. A few plays later, Badyrka attempted a 39-yard field goal that missed wide left after hitting the upright. 

bucksDunmore chopped over seven minutes off the clock with a strong running game in the third quarter. Dawkins capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-two. Badyrka booted the extra point kick and the Bucks had a 13-12 lead with 4:54 left in the third quarter. 

Rice then directed a five-play, 67-yard drive after Dunmore almost recovered a botched kickoff. Rice’s six-yard touchdown burst was followed by Akire Lillie’s two-point conversion run with 3:02 left in the third quarter to give McDevitt a 20-13 lead.

The Bucks had a chance when Dom Temperino picked off a Rice screen pass and galloped 36 yards to the McDevitt 18. 

Dawkins ran the pigskin to the 12 and a face mask penalty put the Bucks at the three. But two false starts and a huge defensive play throwing by Division I recruit Tyrone Fowler throwing Buckley for a three yard loss hurt the drive. A fourth down incomplete pass completely stifled the drive. 

Rice took over and led the Lancers to a game clinching 87-yard drive. He scored on a 25-yard run with 5:04 left in the game. The Lancers quarterback then ran into the end zone for two more points and a 28-13 Bishop McDevitt lead.

Rice finished with 155 yards rushing and two touchdown runs in the contest. He also passed for 127 yards and two scores. 

“The effort was there and we never backed down,” coach McHale said.

He pointed to the team’s 0-2 start, but persevering to win the league and district titles. 

“That’s a super accomplishment.”