Warrensburg Special teams player Adam Langworthy returns a kick for a gain during the game Oct. 22 against Bishop Gibbons. The Burghers’ potent gound attack prompted their 48-35 comeback victory.
With a half-eaten apple in one hand and a television remote-control in his other, Warrensburg Football Coach Mike Leonbruno offered play-by-play commentary Oct. 24 while showing a video of the game his team played two days earlier against Bishop Gibbons.
Leonbruno took a bite out of the apple and gestured to his players in the darkened room.
“This is a huge play here,” he said, showing a Bishop Gibbons running back bypassing one Burgher defender after another. “You guys should be hitting their players low, taking their legs out so they don’t break tackles,” he continued.
His players took the criticism in stride, not letting it stifle their smiles. After all, they won the game 48 to 35 in a comeback victory — and that was without three key players who were absent, and with a rookie Freshman, Marcus Perrone, at quarterback.
After another bite of the apple, and freezing the video image on the wide screen, Leonbruno told them why they won — although they probably knew anyway.
“Look, here you’re down 13 to 0, and if this were any other year, the game would have been over,” he said. “But you guys didn’t panic, you stuck to your game plan. Not one second did I think we were defeated — I knew you’d fight back because of your confidence and your will.”
Later, Leonbruno showed one scene after another of a strategy that moved the ball forward again and again, gaining yardage on virtually every play. It was the Burghers’ double-wing offense, new this year, in which players jam into a wedge-shaped mass and push the ball through their opponents’ defense like a freight train.
This attack, along with the players’ work ethic and “never-say-die” attitude, has resulted in the team achieving a remarkable feat in Section II despite tallying only a 3-5 season record — the Burghers are fifth in the entire section in rushing, all classes combined.
In the Bishop Gibbons game, the Burghers ran for 419 yards and tallied 17 first downs. Every drive but one, they scored. Lucas Nelson ran for 150 yards and scored three touchdowns. Kalvin Duell ran for 214 yards and two touchdowns. Jeremy Barber also added a pair, along with 54 yards. Three other runners also made the statistics board, a testament to the team’s offensive depth.
In the game, Nelson surpassed 1,000 yards for the year. After viewing the game video, the college-bound Senior offered his thoughts about the season.
“The turning point this year was when we beat Lake George,” he said, recalling the Burgher victory over their traditional rivals. The game concluded with both the bench and fans rushing the field and swarming the players while the Warrensburg fans cheered, he recalled with a broad smile.
“From that point on, our guys had confience, believed in themselves, and played harder,” Nelson said. “Players started communicating with each other, got the gist of our new offense, and began dominating competitors.”
The offensive line, Coach Leonbruno noted, also started executing blocks properly, allowing the various running backs to grind out a lot of yards.
“Our line is now running the offense for us,” he said, praising Adam Langworthy, Shea Irish, Charlie Giknis, Gabe MicGlire, Desmon Allen, Jericho Converse and Tyler Wilcox for clearing the path downfield for the runners.
Against Bishop Gibbons, top ground-gainer Kalvin Duell, a Senior, benefitted the most from their work. Just two games ago, he moved from Offensive Guard to running back.
“Carrying the ball is so much fun,” he said with a smile. “I really wish the season wasn’t coming to an end.”
Before it does, there’s one more game Saturday Oct. 29 against Granville, a C school with a far larger enrollment.
Leonbruno and Duell both predicted the Burghers will win, considering their recent achievements and positive attitude.
“I know I’m going to have 200 yards against Granville,” Duell said.
“With our confidence, we’ll win,” Leonbruno predicted. “We’re having fun now.”