2005 football season saw the Class C Section V crown fall into
the possession of a program other than the Oatkan Knights or
nearby rival Caledonia-Mumford. The Marcus Whitman Wildcats
bettered the home town Knights 25-14 and went on to nearly earn
a state title at the Syracuse Carrier Dome. Whitman has moved
to Class B, the Red Raiders of Cal-Mum will once again be a
force, and the Oatkan Knights have made it their mission not
to see another runner-up trophy that would ultimately find its
way into the shrubbery near the practice facilities.
Knights played well in last week's scrimmage with sectional
power Victor (a team that has appeared in 7, yes 7, consecutive
sectional championship contests in Class A), speedy Franklin,
and a rugged Livonia Bulldog squad. Conditioning is ongoing,
lifting is continuing, and the 'Boys in Black' are getting after
it on the field. The team returns experienced talent that will
be bolstered by additions from last season's unbeaten JV team.
The coaches return as well, and the promise of another outstanding
season has the town very excited.
Head Coach Brian Moran (138-39-2, 77%, 10 Section V crowns)
returns at the helm of the LeRoy program that has won 85% of
its games in the past 11 seasons, sporting a 105-18 record.
Final state rankings of 1st-1995, 2nd-1996, 2002, 2004, 4th-1998
(with a team with 4 losses!), and 5th in 2005 support the notion
that the Knights are successful on both local and state levels.
The LeRoy program ranks 3rd (tie) in total sectional football
titles (11) trailing only the elite programs of Clyde-Savannah
and Cal-Mum (13 each). Since the NY state football playoffs
began in 1993, Cal-Mum (19) and LeRoy (16) have played in more
total playoff games than any other Class C schools in the state.
Ron Plummer returns as the offensive coordinator after a fantastic
2005 debut in which he engineered the upset of state Class B
power Hornell and tweaked the offense to win a fierce sectional
semifinal battle against the Cal-Mum Raiders without the services
of NY 1st team RB Mike Farabella. The offense is loaded with
weapons and Coach Plummer's O will be posting numbers for sure.
Earlier this summer the Knights, defending Small School Division
champs at the St. John Fisher Passing Camp, earned
a 2nd place finish, losing a tight battle to a talented East
Aurora squad from Buffalo's Section VI in the championship contest.
Every season Coach Andrew Paladino brings a commanding, insightful
presence to the football field. He talks and players listen.
It is easy to follow the leadership of a knowledgeable and proven
athlete/coach. He just doesn't speak of LeRoy lore and tradition,
he lives and breathes it. When he isn't pounding the treadmill,
he is devising a defensive game plan to pound the opposition
and let them know what smash-mouth football is all about. A
wry smile indicates his confidence in this year's defensive
The assistant coaches return for the 2006 campaign intact. Jim
Bonacquisti has made it possible for the boys to get ample hours
in the weight room due to his tireless dedication and love of
LeRoy football. Dell Storey knows line technique and is not
afraid to share it with the team to make them better. He also
coaches another type of 'foot'ball - soccer (don't let that
out!). Hooks Robertson, with his kind words and endless class,
roams our sidelines on both practice and gameday. He is modest,
but I do not have to be when talking of Hooks - he is loved
by all. JV coach Brad Dietsch has developed much of the talent
that will be likely showcased this season on the varsity. He
puts incredible effort into the LeRoy program, literally and
figuratively. His annual LeRoy program "Friday Knight Lights",
a compilation nonpareil for any high school program in this
state, will be available for the home opener against the Batavia
Blue Devils, September 1st. Be sure to purchase a copy to learn
of this year's team and of the history of one of NY's finest
small school football programs - the LeRoy Oatkan Knights.
Knights' offense sports an outstanding line for the 2006 season.
The Great Wall of LeRoy, John Whiting and Marcus Epps, return
to the right side of line at guard and tackle respectively.
Whiting, a 6' 250 lb. junior, returns for his 3rd year as a
STARTER up front. His athletic intellect and might earned him
LCAA 1st team D-line honors in 2005. This year will be no different.
The weight room has been his home away from home. Marcus "Big
Cat" Epps, an LCAA 1st team O-line member in '05, is a
towering 6'2' 260 lb. man-child who earned respect on the track
team as a fine discus thrower. Anyone in the Cat's way will
learn what is feels like to be a human discus, as the quick
footed junior is ready to do battle in the trenches. Tight end
will be manned by another mainstay of the LeRoy weight room,
Alex DiFrancisco. The wiry strong Alex D. has coaches very pleased
with his efforts as he is a fine blocker while possessing sure
hands to snag the ball when called upon. Alex works hard and
it will pay dividends for this, his senior year. Someone needed
to fill the bill at left guard on the line - enter 3rd year
starter Kevin Brady. The soft spoken Brady hits like a mule
and his experience and leadership will be huge assets for this
year's squad. Brady will be sure to work hard with this year's
left tackle Jordan Casper, a 6'1 230 lb. sophomore, who paved
the way for the RBs of last season's undefeated JV squad. When
you hear the name Casper, and you have and will more so in the
years to come, you are watching strong, hard nosed, respectful
young men that give it all, both on and off the field. Center
will be shared this season by senior Tim Herron and junior Chris
Locke. Both have shined in the preseason and are more than capable
of filling this position, opening and protecting space in the
QB for this year's team will once again be talented senior Mark
Bennetti. Mark is a gifted athlete that has done nothing but
win as the starting quarterback. He is 21-2 as the leader of
the offense. That is 91%! The 2 losses were to 2004 state champ
Dobbs Ferry and #2 final state ranked Marcus Whitman in 2005.
That is a very impressive resume'. Mark was 57 of 103 (55%)
for 845 yds and 13 TDs in '05. Look for even better numbers
from this 6' 180 lb. senior in '06. Lining up in the backfield
will be some talent that will provide a strong rushing attack,
a LeRoy mainstay. Brady Bonacquisti, an aptly named co-captain
with Kevin Brady, Mark Bennetti, and John Whiting, will be featured
as fullback. Tough, smart, hard-working, and driven are just
some of the terms you can use to describe this junior all-star.
He gets low and runs hard, whether to rush or block for any
number of backs who will likely see action in the backfield
this season. Senior Tommy Bestor was a JV all-star two seasons
ago before an injury cut his season short. Last season, an abundance
of talented senior RBs limited his touches. Tom did not walk
into this season thinking hey, it my position by default. He
worked hard in the weight room, put forth the effort that all
on the team have noticed, and has earned a starting role. When
it comes to one-on-one tough man drills, you don't want #20
flying at you. Tommy will have the opposition thinking "where
did this kid come from?" One RB that opposing coaches will
recognize because of his stellar efforts as a sophomore on JVs
is Ian Humphrey. Small guy - BIG numbers. GAUDY stats. The 5'7
150 lb. junior raced for 1470 yards in just 8 games last season.
He AVERAGED an amazing 9 yards per carry, while scoring 22 TDs!
You don't AVERAGE 226 all-purpose yards per game by accident.
And to think, he rarely played deep into the THIRD quarter.
Key on one Humphrey, and boom, another Humphrey can and will
burn you. Lanky sophomore sensation Mike "Spider Man"
Humphrey, averaged 17 yards per reception on JVs last season.
He focuses on the ball, contorts his body to make a clean catch
without contact, and hauls in everything thrown his way. Go
ahead and tip the pass, he'll simply adjust and bring it on
in. Sounds familiar? Sure does. Not only does that describe
Mike Humphrey, it is part and parcel for senior wideout sensation
Craig Tiberio. The 6'3 175 lb. has been dubbed one of the finest
talents in the LCAA by Coach Moran's favorite sports publication.
Craig had so many outstanding plays on both sides of the ball
in 2005 that he was named all-LCAA on both offense and defense.
Craig AVERAGED 20 yards a reception last season and picked off
7 balls as a free safety. The Honorable Mention all Greater
Rochester player was placed on the New York State Class C 2nd
team as a defensive back. Needless to say, teams will have defensive
concerns for LeRoy's #13. If that wasn't enough, senior Justin
Becker adds yet another receiving option for Coach Plummer's
offense. Becker is strong, fast, and sure-handed. As stated
earlier, the Knights will certainly have the weapons necessary
to put points on the board.
Andrew Paladino once again has a defense that has size and moreover,
quickness. The Knights are known for their tough defense and
this year's team will not disappoint. Whiting and Epps return
to squash the run inside as defensive tackles. Junior Chucky
Brandes has worked very hard in the off-season and will be utilized
as a run stopper as well. There is a lot of strength in his
315 lb. frame. Kevin Brady, the team's leading tackler in 2005,
moves to DE and will not skip a beat as an enforcer. Jourdain
Holly, a junior, is being looked at as the other DE and has
the speed, strength, and hard-nosed grit to play the role well.
Brady Bonacquisti played superbly as a sophomore at middle LB,
earning Honorable Mention LCAA honors. Bad news for opposing
offenses - the 'always-in-the-right-spot' Bonacquisti returns
stronger and quicker and with that year of varsity experience,
playing in 'big' contests. The leading tackler on last season's
JV squad, hard-nosed and physical Greg Elmore, will man the
other middle LB position. Elmore was called up at the end of
last season to fill the bill in the Whitman contest and played
beyond his years, sticking everything in sight. Greg plays with
an intense attitude and will even see action at fullback, as
coach Moran likes this tough 190 lb. junior when he wants to
go with a bigger backfield to get the tough yards. There are
plenty of candidates as outside linebackers and all are quick
to lay a lick on the opposition. Alex DiFrancisco will be a
starter as will senior teammate Chad Condidorio. Condidorio,
a state ranked wrestler, will use his takedown skills to stop
the run, his timing to likely once again lead the team in sacks,
and his positioning to snag even more fumble recoveries. Two
juniors who will see plenty of action at outside LB are Kory
Cosimeno and the aforementioned speedy Ian Humphrey. The defensive
backfield will feature all-star Craig Tiberio at safety and
Mike Humphrey and Travis Fenstermaker at the corners. Fenstermaker
has proven to be quite a gem as a sophomore up on the varsity.
He can do it all. Travis is the backup QB to Bennetti and does
not enter a game with wide-eyed wonderment. He is poised and
ready for battle at all times. He is a superb kicker and a defensive
asset. You will be hearing and seeing a lot about Travis.