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Springville-Griffith football players psyched for start of fall sports season

Springville’s Pat O’Brien loses his helmet trying to haul down an Eden player during a game last season. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
Bryce Stedman is psyched.

Devin White-Kearns is pumped.

Pat O’Brien is so excited he can’t even put it into words.

Official football practice begins on Aug 18 and 80-plus high schools in WNY will be buckling up their chin straps and lacing up their cleats early Monday morning for a season that could last for a possible 15 weeks.

“During camp we’re looking to get 100 percent attendance,”Springville coach Rob Valenti said. “During the winter and spring, you’re dealing with other sports, work, everyone’s schedules, now we’re officially here and everyone should be in. It’s bringing guys up to speed that haven’t been around and putting some polish on things that we’ve already done.”

Springville will have double sessions starting on Monday, Aug 18., with the first session beginning at 8 a.m. Springville has been working out together since the winter -- lifting weights, conditioning, participating in passing camps and doing on-field drills.

“I feel like we’re more prepared than we’ve ever been because of the vigorous training in the offseason,” O’Brien said. “We’ve been working out the whole winter, spring and summer. I’m really excited because I feel like it’s going to pay off.”

“This is probably the strongest our team unity has been in awhile,” Stedman said. “We’ve been together non-stop. We’ve been together four or five times a week, and that’s every week since Coach Valenti was named head coach.”

The increased focus on training this offseason has already paid off as the team enters training camp with a majority of team’s offensive, defensive and special teams systems already in place.

“For the most part, our entire offense, defense and special teams, that corefoundation are all roughed in,” Valenti said. “It’s just a matter of rounding everything out and continuing with teaching and getting as many team reps as we can.”

Springville has to replace a strong, 16-player senior class from a year ago, but the core pieces are in place according to Valenti -- starting with Devin White-Kearns, who will return to play quarterback. White-Kearns started all nine games for Springville as a junior, compiling 712 all-purpose yards and scoring 10 touchdowns. White-Kearns has also been learning from new coaches Eric Jantzi and Sean Bruso throughout the offseason.

“Devin has been all in during the duration of the offseason,” Valenti said. “He’s been working with Coach Bruso, and Coach Jantzi a lot. He’s in a really good position heading into camp. Coach Bruso has done a very nice job honing in on the focus that’s needed to play the position -- really hammering out the skills and mechanics that are needed. You couple that with natural athletic ability, great instincts on the field, I really feel like he’s going to be a dynamic player for us.”

Springville also returns three starting linemen in Stedman, Josh Ball and Pat Hannon. Linebackers O’Brien and Devin Pazzuti will be cornerstones on the defense. Ian Baker and Johnny Domes will move up to varsity as sophomores.

“I’m excited with the talent we have coming back, but I’m excited to see who emerges,” Valenti. “Who is going to be the kid that we may have slotted second or third on the depth chart, or someone we haven’t seen this summer who just emerges and can be a big-time player for us.

The addition of Bruso and Jantzi has created quite the buzz in Springville. Jantzi has enjoyed success wherever he has coached and Bruso is one of the young coaches in the area.

“I think the coaching staff is really, really good,” O’Brien said. “I’m excited to see what the new coaches are going to do during game day. Coach Jantzi has such a great track record, he’s won two state championships, you can tell he knows what he’s doing by his vibes. Same with Coach Bruso -- they just know football inside and out.”Springville open its season at Fredonia on Sept 5.

“It’s going to be pretty wild,” White-Kearns said. “We have some key people coming back, we’re pretty pumped. We’re ready to get started.”

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