2009 Fall Sport Special: PAHS football

Lori Chase
Potter Leader-Enterprise / Port Allegany Reporter Argus
September 9, 2009

At Port Allegany High School, last year’s football season can be summed up by the numbers, although perhaps not the ones on the scoreboard. With 24 names on the opening-day roster – which later dipped into the high teens for a game or two – and just three of those players tipping the scales at (barely) over 200 pounds, the undermanned Gators simply wore down late in many of their games en route to a 3-6 record.

Although disappointed by the results, fifth-year Port High head coach Mike Bodamer couldn’t find fault with his players’ determination. “Even though it wasn’t a great season in terms of wins, I really think the kids played their hearts out,” he said. “They never gave up. Almost every single game, we were in right until the very end. I just hope it carries over to this season.”

Port will still be giving away a significant amount of weight on the lines in 2009; once again, 200-pounders are few and far between on the roster. But at least this year, there are enough players to be able to run a full 11-on-11 practice.

“Our numbers are a lot better this year. I think we’ve got 39 kids, which is a lot better than the 18 or 19 we ended with last year. We’ve got a little bit more depth, so we should be okay,” Bodamer said.

The Gators boast an experienced backfield, with starting quarterback Camrin Stuckey (27-58, 166 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) and all four of last year’s leading rushers returning. Junior fullback Seth Lowery (102 carries-452 yards, 3 touchdown runs) and seniors Ryan Bodamer (85-252, 1 TD) and Paul Woods (15-89, 1 TD) are the projected starters, with junior Zach Ramadhan (17-73, 1 TD) also seeing some time.

While Stuckey enters the season as the quarterback, coach Bodamer also wants to get his backup, freshman Matt Bodamer, some experience while hopefully creating mismatches against the defense.

“I’d like to try to be able to use (Stuckey) a couple of times maybe out at split or even as a running back, because he is such a threat with the ball,” he explained. “Lucas Kline can get down the field and I think he can catch, I think if we can split Lucas and Camrin, it can be a pretty lethal weapon for us. So we may flip-flop Stuke around a little bit, but he is a quarterback for most of the time.”

The switch worked to near-perfection in the season opener against Curwensville; the younger Bodamer checked into the huddle at the 8:17 mark of the second quarter and went the rest of the way under center, tossing two touchdown passes – including a 60-yarder – to Stuckey.

Linemen Damen Brodhun, Josh Guerrero, Brent Frontino, and Chris Fabish all graduated, but the Gators do have three returning lettermen in their front five, with seniors Adam Greenman and James Nellis anchoring the right side, junior Zach Manning at center, and new starters Benn Baxter (guard) and freshman Nick Budd (tackle) on the left.

“We’re not big up front, but the kids seem to know what they’re doing, and we actually have more quickness this year. Hopefully quickness can beat size, especially at guard. Adam and Benn are our two guards; they’re not very big, but they’re fast and aggressive, so hopefully that will counteract their lack of size,” coach Bodamer said.

Seniors Ryan Bodamer, Greenman, Nellis, and Kline are the captains.

On the other side of the ball, the veteran mentor admitted, “We’re losing a couple of key parts. (Big 30 All-Star) Josh Guerrero at linebacker; hopefully Seth Lowery can step in for him. Bryce Healy was in the secondary for the last three years, but we have Ryan, Paul, and Camrin coming back, so our secondary should be pretty good. I definitely see the defense being our strong point again this year.”

Either Cameron County or Coudersport has been at the top of the division standings at the end of every season since 2002. Odds are, that streak will last for at least one more season.

“Cameron County has size, speed, strength – they’ve got everything, so Emporium’s definitely the team to beat,” Bodamer said. “Coudy’s big up front. Their skill positions might be a little down this year, but they’re always a good team. Smethport should be good. They have some running backs coming back, so they should be a lot better. Eldred had some skill-position players last year, that should make them competitive. And I even hear that Sheffield has gone in with Abraxas again, so that’s going to give them a lot more talent.

“I think the league is definitely up in the air. Emporium should be the top of the list, but after that … I think Brockway’s going to be a surprise. They throw the ball well with that no-huddle spread offense, so I think you’ll see Brockway up there, too. It will be a pretty competitive league this year.”

Where does Port fit into that?

“I really couldn’t tell you,” Bodamer said. “I think we have some experience – it’s lack of size I’m concerned about, whether or not we can handle bigger teams up front. Hopefully our speed and quickness can help compensate for that; try to outrun teams instead of outmuscle them.”

SCHEDULE:

September

5 – Curwensville, 1:30 p.m.

12 – at ECC, 7 p.m.

19 – Johnsonburg, 1:30 p.m.

25 – at Kane, 7 p.m.

October

2 – at Smethport, 7 p.m.

10 – Sheffield, 1:30 p.m.

17 – Cameron County, 11 a.m.

23 – at Coudersport, 7 p.m.

30 – at Otto-Eldred, 7 p.m.

2009 Fall Sport Special: PAHS boys’ golf

Lori Chase
Potter Leader-Enterprise / Port Allegany Reporter Argus
September 9, 2009

Port Allegany may no longer have its own golf course, but that inconvenience hasn’t stopped the high school teams from continuing to compete. On a recent afternoon, the Gator boys could be found at the Pineview Driving Range just east of town, practicing their putting on the miniature-golf layout.

“Haven’t had any putts like this on the golf course,” head coach Bob Raudenbush said with a chuckle as he used the ‘loop-the-loop’ hole to demonstrate ball-striking speed, “but we make the best of it. We’re doing okay.”

Does that built-in handicap make team victories a little sweeter when they happen? “It definitely does,” the longtime Port High coach said. “I think it’s a three- to four-shot advantage when you’re on your home course. Again, no excuses, but it’s definitely an advantage to know what clubs to hit, your yardages, how greens break, those kinds of things. There’s nothing like local knowledge. It’s another challenge for us to overcome, so it does make it a little more satisfying to win a match on someone else’s home course. That’s the challenge we know we face, and we keep working hard to get there. Last year we were 4-8, and we look at that as a pretty good season to pick up four wins on the road.”

The Gators were young in 2008, with graduating senior Terry Gleason the only upperclassman on the roster. That gave the current junior class plenty of playing time as sophomores, experience Raudenbush thinks will work in their favor.

“Our juniors are definitely our core this year,” he said. “Kyle Hildebrandt and Kody Taylor are our two returning letterman, and they’ve consistently shot our two best scores. So it was nice to see that Frank Austin was the co-medalist against Austin; it’s nice to have a third guy come into the picture. With some good scores, things are looking up to start the season.”

Fellow juniors Chad Barnard, Marcus Borowsky, and Todd Bigley also return, and the Gators added seniors Cameron Lane and Kole Hults, sophomore Brady Major, and freshman Zach Austin to the roster.

Hildebrandt put together a strong sophomore season, earning a spot on the Penn-York League All-Star team, but Raudenbush cautioned against inking him – or anyone else – into the No. 1 spot just yet.

“I think Kyle stepped up a little toward the end of last year, and definitely put himself out there as being our No. 1 golfer. But Frank Austin came through (in the season opener against Austin) and Kody Taylor’s been in the 40s a couple of times, so there is some competition there for that top spot. And that’s healthy; competition is a good thing. That should make us better,” he said.

While Raudenbush is pleased with the effort he’s seen thus far, he knows his Gators still have work to do to match up against the teams at the top of the league standings.

“We’re probably five strokes off right now,” he admitted. “We need to improve by five more strokes from where we’re at, and then we’re going to be very competitive in the league. And I think these guys will do that. Good group of kids once again. Very teachable, coachable. When you talk about working in something, or changing something in their swing, they’re willing to give it a try and stick with it. That makes it fun as a coach to have a group of kids like that.

“We talked about building on last year’s 4-8 season. If we can repeat that – or I’d like to see us improve on that – it would be a very good season, being realistic. I think we’d be moving in the right direction, and with this many juniors coming back, I think we can do that.”

SCHEDULE:

September

2 – Oswayo Valley, 4 p.m.

14 – Otto-Eldred, 4 p.m.

17 – Smethport, 4 p.m.

21 – Coudersport, 4 p.m.

22 – Cameron County, 4 p.m.

25 – Smethport Invitational, 9 a.m.

29 – District 9 Tournament, 9 a.m.

2009 Fall Sport Special: PAHS girls’ golf

Lori Chase
Potter Leader-Enterprise / Port Allegany Reporter Argus
September 9, 2009

The Port Allegany girls’ golf team may not have the benefit of a home-course advantage, but the Lady Gators do have something no other Penn-York League squad can claim: reigning league MVP Lynea Gustafson. The three-time All-Star began her senior season the same way she ended the last one, medaling in each of the team’s first two matches.

“Lynea has a very natural swing,” said coach Dave Roae. “There’s not a lot I can do to change what she’s doing, because she’s doing such a nice job. She definitely has the talent to play at the collegiate level. I think she’s the top golfer in the league again this year. She’s going to get pushed a little bit by Ashley Mackey from Bradford – she’s one to watch – but I think Lynea’s definitely the cream of the crop in our league. She’s got nowhere to go but up – or down – in score, depending on how you want to look at it,” he said with a grin.

Juniors Alesha Shatley and Amber Fischer and sophomores Lindsay Delacour and Sasha Fisher also return from last year’s squad, giving Roae an experienced foundation to build on. Instead of having to spend most of his practice time teaching fundamentals, he can focus on fine-tuning each golfer’s game.

“It’s definitely a help,” Roae said. “We can work on golf swings at practice instead of having to teach the absolute basics.”

Junior Cora Bova is the lone new addition to the team. “She’s already improving,” Roae said. “She’s really never golfed before, she’s brand new at this, but she’s an athletic young lady and I think she can help us.”

Port went “oh-and-whatever” in regular-season matches last year but recorded a strong showing in the league tournament, finishing a single stroke out of a tie for second place and providing Roae with a source of motivation for this season. “It gave us a chance to say, ‘Hey, we can compete with the rest of the league,’” he said.

The Gator girls emphatically proved that point in their season opener, dominating Smethport 33-21 to earn a split in a tri-match played on Cameron County’s home course.

“It had been several years since we had won a match, so it was very nice to see,” Roae said. “We’ve been struggling with numbers in the past few years, with our practice situation being what it is, so it was very nice to come in with a win.”

Now in his fourth season with the program, Roae’s goals are simple: “As long as I can get my ladies to continually improve, I’ll be happy.” As for the team? “Win some more matches.”

Roae sees Bradford and Coudersport battling for the Penn-York league championship, with everyone else competing for third place. Where does Port Allegany factor into that equation?

“We are definitely more competitive this year,” he said. “We have the young ladies with talent to win a few matches this year, and that’s a great thing to see for the program.”

SCHEDULE:

September

9 – Kane, 4 p.m.

10 – Coudersport, 4 p.m.

17 – Couderport, 4 p.m.

21 – Cameron County, 4 p.m.

23 – Bradford, 3:30 p.m.

24 – Penn-York Tournament, 9 a.m.

28 – Kane, 4 p.m.

October

5 – District 9 Tournament, 9 a.m.

2009 Fall Sport Special: PAHS cross country

Lori Chase
Potter Leader-Enterprise / Port Allegany Reporter Argus
September 9, 2009

Last year, Port Allegany’s cross country runners stepped to the line for the first time as a team, with both the boys and girls picking up their first wins in the program’s short history. Individually, Jessica French, Justin Lewis, and Desi Tanner all medaled at the North Tier League meet, and French finished 15th at districts to qualify for the PIAA state championships.

All three have graduated, though, leaving a young squad behind for head coach Fran Reilly. But while she acknowledges those athletes will be difficult to replace, she’s looking forward to the team she has.

“I enjoy working with them; they’re really a nice bunch of kids,” she said. “We go out there, and they’re willing to work. And they’re eager to learn, so I’m really happy with them.”

With no upperclassmen on the roster, Reilly is depending on the leaders from last year’s junior high squad to step up to the varsity level.

“Aaron Majot uses his head when he runs; he’s very consistent. Jameson Haskins; he and Aaron are going to be the co-captains. He has the ability and also the willingness to push himself. Young – they’re only ninth-graders – but I see them improving,” she said.

Sophomore Bryan Pritt and freshmen Jacob Undercofler and Lucas Manning round out the varsity squad, while eighth-graders Stephen Blankenship, Logan Hutton, and Dallas Taylor and seventh-graders Jason Huss, Adam Koehler, and Jefferson Stehle will compete for the junior high. Port Allegany will not field a girls’ team this season.

While Reilly is realistic about the Gators’ postseason prospects this year, she sees a positive future for the program.

“The last thing I say to them when they get on the line is, ‘Who is your major opponent? Yourself.’ When they can see improvement in themselves, that’s what’s important, and especially with a team like this that’s so young.

“Am I looking to see anybody go to states this year? Probably not,” she admitted. “But am I looking at athletes that are going to be growing? Yeah. I see a lot of potential in a lot of these kids. I’m not going to say this group of kids is the fastest, but they’re dedicated and they’re willing to work. That, to me, means more than worrying about whether we’re the best team out there.”

SCHEDULE:

September

8 – Coudersport, 4 p.m.

12 – Franklinville Invitational, 9 a.m.

15 – at Kane/Smethport, 4 p.m.

19 – Bradford Invitational, 9:30 a.m.

22 – Oswayo Valley, 4 p.m.

26 – McQuaid Invitational, 9 a.m.

29 – at Otto-Eldred, 4 p.m.

October

7 – at Northern Potter, 4 p.m.

13 – at Couderport, 4 p.m.

20 – North Tier League meet, 4 p.m.

2009 Fall Sport Special: PAHS boys’ soccer

Was it really only three years ago that the Port Allegany boys soccer team managed just a single win in its first attempt at playing a varsity schedule? Seems like a lot longer than that, after last year’s squad finished 9-4-1 in the Upper Allegheny Valley Soccer League’s North division – good for second place behind Elk County Catholic – before falling to eventual district champion Brookville in a second-round playoff match and completing the season with an 11-7-1 overall record.

“Overall, it was a very positive experience in the playoffs,” head coach Aaron Clark said. “The kids did well even in our loss. It was a good learning experience for the kids coming back this year; they got to see what it takes to win in the playoffs. This year, we’re hoping for a minimum of 10 wins and the playoffs, and then just go as far as we can. Those are the goals we told the kids; that’s what we want to focus on.”

Judging by their performance at last weekend’s Galeton tournament, the Gators appear to be off to a good start. They knocked off perennial District 4 playoff contender Sullivan County – a team that dominated Port 5-0 in last year’s final – by a 4-2 score, before falling 3-1 to Northeast Bradford in the championship game.

Seven starters graduated from last year’s team, including tri-captains Derek Brookens (sweeper), Tyler Payne (midfielder), and Ryan Sabolcik (goalkeeper). Seniors Denzel Middleton, Max Parana, Jon Binder, and Kirby Elliott will step into those roles, but according to Clark, he has a team full of leaders.

“They’re all good kids. I don’t think they need a lot of ‘leadership,’ because they’ve got one another,” he said. “I know that sounds corny, but I think that they can kind of watch out for themselves. They don’t need me screaming at them, trying to get them to want to win games. There are a lot of kids on the team that want to do well every single game, every practice. That’s a plus.”

Willie Postlewait and Frank Austin spent the summer competing for the right to replace Sabolcik in goal, with Postlewait in the lead heading into the season. “Right now, it’s Willie’s job to lose,” Clark said.

Whoever eventually claims the job will have the experienced Middleton and Parana in front of him at center back. Senior Josh Fox and junior Max Morris are the outside fullbacks, with sophomores Elliott Binder and James Coxen subbing in.

Last year, Elliott became the second Gator to earn Big 30 All-Star honors, notching two hat tricks on his way to a team-leading 12 goals. Barring injury, he and junior Ken Kysor should anchor the midfield, along with Binder, senior Kyle Conway, and junior Sam Shaffer. Junior Ben Osani and freshman Sam Kysor are the probable starters at forward; Osani came on strong late last season, scoring both of Port’s goals in the playoff loss at Brookville.

Last year, the Gators came up just short of catching ECC for the division title, and Clark, who will be assisted by Matt Lawton again this season, expects more of the same in 2009.

“I think it’s going to be tight again,” he said. “I see ECC being good, I see Kane, Smethport, us being pretty good, Coudersport – I think they’re going to surprise people. I think Coudersport’s going to be a good team. I honestly see five teams that can make a push to win the league title. There’s no way of knowing who’s going to get it.”

He continued, “I think we’re in the mix. I’m not going to make any predictions at all, but I think any one of those five teams can win it – which is good, because a couple of years ago it was basically ECC and Kane. Those were the only two teams with a chance at it. Now, it’s wide open.”

Asked for one word to define his team, Clark replied, “Optimistic. We’ve got a good young team. I think that depending on how certain positions shake out, we could have a better year than last year, but … maybe I should say cautiously optimistic.”

2009 Fall Sport Special: PAHS girls’ soccer

Coming off a one-win season two years ago, few observers could have guessed that the Port Allegany girls’ soccer team would explode onto the scene the way it did in 2008, finishing with a .500 record in the Upper Allegheny Valley Soccer League’s North division and taking defending District 9 champion Elk County Catholic into overtime before falling 1-0 in a playoff quarterfinal.

“Last year was a dream season for us,” head coach Travis Cowburn said of his 8-11 Lady Gators. “We set a goal to win eight games, which we did. This year, we’re going to try to step up on that. Double digits is our aim, and we want to get to 12. Is it realistic? We don’t really know yet; we’re untried in a couple of areas that we were really good in last year. We’re going to give it a shot, though. The heart is there now. We’ve been preaching ‘grit’ for the last two years, and this time we’ve got a group of seniors building on last year that really can get the job done, so we’re looking at doing some positive things this year.”

As the varsity program continues to build momentum with the help of the community leagues, the fourth-year coach has noticed the difference in his players’ grasp of the fundamentals. “It’s a lot easier for me just to tweak what it is they’re trying to do, instead of teaching them how to pass correctly and all these other things,” he said.

Port lost several multi-year starters to graduation, including goalkeeper Cortney Barnett, an UAVSL All-Star. “She was a special player for us,” Cowburn said. But while he originally anticipated a dropoff at the position, he’s been pleasantly surprised by the progression of sophomore Jordan Edgell’s work in the net. “She’s come out and worked hard in the offseason, went to camps, and she’s really stepped up. She hasn’t shown any weakness… I don’t think that’s going to be a weak point at all.”

Co-captains Barnett and Jenn Anderson may have moved on, but Cowburn thinks he has a strong group to replace them, beginning with senior midfielder Kaitlyn Kio.

“She’s the inspirational leader of this team, and she was, really, last year,” he said. “She’s the one that’s got the talent, she’s the one people look up to, her teammates are rallying around her, and she’s just a positive influence no matter where she is on the field. She’ll be our speaking captain this year, along with Amanda Kelly, who’s the all-time leading scorer at Port Allegany, and Bryanna Evans, the underclassman captain, who has also won district honors in years past. So we’ve got a great core of leaders in every facet, whether it’s playing the game, inspirational leadership, giving the pep talks, or whatever it is, and they’re really doing a fantastic job.”

The Lady Gator attack will be led by Kelly – “we’re looking for her to do some really good things in our new formation” – along with juniors Nicole Lovell and Carli Johnston. Kio and Evans will anchor the midfield, along with freshman Kaylee Kio. Another senior, Amarae Reinard, will be playing a little of both midfield and defense. “She’s basically going to be running the show in the midfield, and she’s got tremendous talent,” Cowburn said.

Brittany Drabert inherits Anderson’s spot in the middle of the defense, flanked by fellow senior Shanel Halle and sophomore Hannah Wise. Junior Julia Cullver, sophomores Lindsey Delacour and Megan Bishel, and freshmen Mary Rosenswie and Cheyenne Helo complete the roster.

Considering that it took the team almost two full seasons to win its first game, Cowburn is pleased with their progress, but he and assistant coach Tony Edgell are continuing to set their sights on loftier goals.

“We’re coming along,” he said. “We’re ahead of schedule only four years into it, and we’re starting to make some noise. We’re looking to capitalize on last season, and try to go deep into districts. We really think we can get a higher seed this year, and we’d like to win a game in districts … or maybe even two. Only time will tell what’s going to happen, but I think we’ve got the talent to do it. With the heart and soul that we have, I think we’re going to be able to make some noise in the league this year. ECC is still the team to beat, but we took them to overtime in districts, and we’re going to see if we can rattle their cage a little bit.”

2009 Fall Sport Special: PAHS volleyball

As a new North Tier League volleyball season gets under way, Port Allegany is determined to put last year’s uncharacteristic 2-15 record behind them and focus on the campaign ahead. The Lady Gators took the first step on that road last week, topping Allegany-Limestone 3-1 (25-16, 21-25, 25-23, 25-19) in Friday night’s home opener.

Although Port returns just two seniors, head coach Sharon Daniels sees an enthusiastic, “highly motivated” crop of underclassmen meshing well with the older players. Daniels, who will be assisted again by Kaci Daniels and junior high coach Laurie Lathrop, also feels that area club-level programs have had a positive effect on her squad.

“Normally, having such a young team would present a problem with the experience factor,” she said. “But I feel very fortunate that of the kids that are playing, 11 of those 18 have at least two years of club experience. That’s going to help. The experience they gained by playing over the winter will carry over to the court here.”

Daniels expects the Lady Gator offense to revolve around three returning front-line starters. “Seniors Alyssa Bowser (a second-team NTL All-Star) and Kelsey Pistner both swing well, make very good offensive choices and bring the most experience to the floor. Add junior Renee Edgell and we have three powerful hitters with excellent blocking ability,” she said.

The other starter back for 2009 is junior setter Kyley Mickle, who will be joined in the lineup by freshman setter Jenny Shelley, “a very talented player with tons of energy.”

Continuing down the roster, Daniels added, “Sophomore Becky Andrus saw a lot of time at the varsity level last year and has quickly filled the void left by graduating first-team NTL All-Star Emily Schena in the libero position. She adds much to the team’s chemistry with her quickness and court savvy. Ashley Bernardi adds depth to our back row, Nikki Andrus will see time in the outside hitting position and the duo of sophomore Becca Culver and freshman Rachel Taylor will definitely aid our defensive efforts at the net.”

Coudersport dominated North Tier League play last season, racing through the league schedule with a perfect 14-0 record, but Daniels doesn’t see that happening again.

“I think it’s going to be a little tighter race this year,” she said. “I think Coudy’s going to be tough, I think Oswayo’s tough, Eldred’s tough, Smethport’s going to be in the mix, NoPo … I don’t think there’s any team that’s going to be at the bottom every night, I really don’t. Just looking at the different players coming back, I think it’s going to be a race every single night to see who’s going to win.”

Where does Daniels hope to see her Port High team finish in that race?

“It would be easy to say ‘better than last year,’ but I would like to see us make the playoffs, which means we’d have to finish .500,” she said. “I would really like to see this team finish .500 and at least make the first round of the playoffs. That’s our long-term goal.”