MBy Sean Maleady ’17
Many question marks existed for the Chaminade varsity football team heading into the 2016 campaign. Could the team overcome a winless 2015 season, as well as the major coaching changes which followed, to return to its status as a CHSFL powerhouse?
The 2016 Flyers proved their naysayers wrong, as first-year head coach Kevin Dolan ’85 piloted the team to a much improved 4-5 record. The Flyers came out of the gate soaring, defeating Kellenberg 42- 20 at home in the season opener. Mike Kelleher ’17 made an Odell Beckham Jr.-like catch for a touchdown to seal the Flyers victory and set the tone for the new season. The catch was caught on video, and would go viral, gaining much attention from the wildly popular sports media company Bleacher Report in the following weeks. Coach Dolan picked up his first Chaminade victory, which was the first varsity win for the members of the senior class as well.
“My favorite moment of the season was our first victory against Kellenberg Memorial,” said Dolan. “It was our first victory as a team, and everyone contributed.”
The team fought hard in the following two games against Saint Peter’s and Saint Anthony’s, but would ultimately come up on the losing end of both contests. The Flyers rebounded in a resounding way by beating the sixth-ranked team in New York, Monsignor Farrell, 24-16 in a thriller at Gold Star Stadium.
“It showed we could compete with anyone,” said senior Sean Doherty. “We knew that if we played as a team we would be capable of competing at a high level. Our team chemistry and close-knit bonds made us play better as a unit.”
The team then continued the momentum it had built with the upset victory over Farrell by defeating Holy Cross 21-13 the following week. The Flyers turned in another strong performance against Cardinal Hayes, despite exiting the nail-biting contest with a defeat. However, the Flyers would soon get back on track by beating Fordham Prep 42-27 behind four field goals made by kicker Liam Dvorak ’17. The Flyers then faced a perennial powerhouse, Archbishop Stepinac, in the regular season finale. The team did not pick up the victory, but did clinch a playoff spot regardless. Unfortunately, the Flyers again fell to Stepinac in the quarterfinals this past Sunday, ending their 2016 season.
From the season’s kickoff to its final play, the Flyers worked tirelessly to overcome numerous obstacles on their path to a successful season. Despite the early exit from the playoffs, Coach Dolan was still very pleased with the effort his team put forth all season long.
“I am very satisfied with the accomplishments of the team,” said Dolan. “The team, the coaching staff, and all the new dynamics were surrounded by question marks, but the boys played very tough, won four games, and played competitively in five others. We averaged over 29 points per game, played very physical and stingy defense, and found a number of special teams players that directly contributed to our success.”
Assistant Head Coach Mr. Michael Dolce ’99, who runs the Flyers defense, echoed that sentiment, saying, “Although we fell short of our ultimate goal, the team came together as a group of young men who worked towards a goal selflessly and relentlessly, which is exactly what Chaminade embodies.” Coach Dolce summed up his feelings about the season, adding, “My only regret after the final loss to Stepinac was that I couldn’t spend one more week of practice with this team. This was a special group of kids.”
The seniors on the team, especially captains James Errante, Frank Tangredi, Matt Chmil, and Luke Pacher, provided much-needed leadership after a forgettable 2015 season. While the group’s on-field performance was instrumental to the Flyers’ rebound in 2016, the seniors also served as incredible mentors to the juniors. They stressed equality amongst the members of the team in order to achieve unity. In the ultimate team game, the 2016 Flyers truly played as a team. From preseason workout at Camp Kweebec in Pennsylvania, to the final seconds of the playoff game, no player put himself above anyone else. The effort put forth by the senior class ensures that the Chaminade football program will continue its already successful rebuild.
“This senior class really helped bring back a winning culture to Chaminade football,” said Dolan.
Coach Dolan also reflected on his first season leading the Flyers, stating, “This season, as I said to the boys on Sunday, was one of the highlights of my coaching career. Being back at Chaminade High School is a homecoming for me. Being able to share our faith as a team, work together as a team, and face challenges as a team is a joy many coaches never get to experience.”
Coach Dolan’s right-hand man, Coach Dolce, said he was proud of the job the new head coach did during his inaugural season.
“Kevin Dolan did a tremendous job this year,” said Dolce. “He is a man of character and integrity. The team embraced all of those qualities that Coach Dolan exhibited day in and day out.”
Next year’s team will feature a more experienced offense and a battle-tested defense that will continue to grow as they did this past season. Coach Dolan is optimistic when looking to the future of the football program, saying, “The freshman team had a very successful year under the leadership of Coach Carroll, and the JV team advanced to the second round of the CHSFL playoffs under the leadership of Coach Bligen. Put all this together, and I am planning on Chaminade making a run for the championship in 2017.”