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More cool notes & quotes from Bennett (& web radio link)

Sometimes you have a ton of notes and quotes after doing interviews that you can't possibly fit them all into a story. And sometimes you actually have time to gather them all up and throw them on the blog.

Here's today's feature story about the Bennett football program.

And here's a whole lot more from Bennett coaches and players:

First, here's the internet link for tonight's live radio broadcast, which will be done by the Intense Milks crew. The recording of the game can be heard at 2 p.m. Saturday on WJJL (1440 AM), which is broadcasting Niagara hockey tonight. 

Bennett assistant and former St. Joe's coach Bob O'Connor:

"I knew I'd be on a sideline somewhere. I've found a home here with these guys. I like these kids. They're fun to be around. Getting everybody to practice all the time -- that's what put us in the playoffs."

* * * 

O'Connor helped the Bennett program last season out by raising funds for helmets and other necessities through some former St. Joe's players.

"I tapped a couple of Joe's guys and we raised about $10,000 through former players. We bought helmets, and we got more from the city this year. We're trying to expand the programs to the point where we don't have to cut any kids, so no matter how many kids want to come out, we can suit everyone up.

"That was the problem the city always had in the past. They didn't have enough equipment for guys. You never want to turn away a freshman, you hate to cut young kids that want to play the game.

On the differences between St. Joe's and Bennett:

"One of the big thing certainly was there was more discipline at St. Joe's, private school kids are used to more discipline in the school itself. In the city, it's getting the kids to discipline themselves to show up at practice. The kids that didn't come last year are here every day and that's been the change this year.

On the similarities between St. Joe's and Bennett:

"Everything we're running here is the same stuff that we ran at St. Joe's."

On running backs Javon Fogan and Noah Jenkins:

"These are two of the best backs I've ever had in the same backfield at the same time -- I had some great tandems at St. Joe's and these guys are right up there. Both are tough kids, very nice kids, easy to coach, they listen to everything we tell them and when it comes to game time they really turn it on.

* * * 

O'Connor promised his linemen that he would take them out to dinner if a running back went over 200 yards.

It has cost O'Connor two dinners.

"I took them to Famous Dave's last week, and then I had to take them again this week."

Last week, both Fogan and Jenkins went over 200 yards in a victory over South Park.

"They said, 'Coach are we getting an extra meal out of this?'‚" O'Connor said with a smile. "No, you get one per game.

"The lineman are bonding and pulling together. They're taking pride in themselves and taking pride in running the ball."

"I told the linemen last winter, next year this program is in your hands; you're the heart and soul of the team. I told them we're going to run the ball Ñ and then we're going to run the ball some more. That's our strength. So they bought into that and we're doing a lot of good stuff."

Bennett head coach Steve McDuffie:

On Bennett's success, and spreading the credit around ... and spreading ... and spreading ... :

"The credit goes to No. 1 the kids. They put a lot of time into the offseason conditioning program. And also the support from the administration: [principal] Dr. David Mauricio, [assistant principal] Dr. [Bert] Stevenson, Mr. [Carlos] Alvarez and Miss [assistant principal Teena] Jackson.

"It's really been a thing where we have really tried to focus on our kids doing the little things right. It definitely starts in the classroom, coming in on time every day, attending all of their classes, then after that we do homework, sometimes we do a study table, lift weights and then we would get after it.

"I have a great coaching staff. Anthony Adams is the defensive coordinator, he came over from Riverside. Coach O'Connor came over here and helped me to take this task on and turn this program around. We've had a great friendship over the years and it's just wonderful.

"I can't forget my JV coach [Jamie] Barden. Our JV is 6-1 in only our second year having a JV program. For us to be 6-1 shows that we're building a solid, solid foundation. Coach Barden is doing an excellent job.

"Teachers have been very supportive, like Sheila Busshart and Jamie St. John, deans of discipline for the freshman academy."

And it's last in this lineup, but let the record show that he mentioned this early on in the interview :-)

"I have a very, very understanding wife [Melissa]. I don't come home until 8 p.m. some days and she is so still wonderful and has dinner on the table for me ... and I'm falling asleep and she's taking my shoes off of my feet. I owe her a great deal of gratitude."

"It's just been a good ride this year.

Senior lineman Marquel Foster:

"A lot of people coming to more of our games, supporting us and teachers are helping us after school. We've got great running backs. Our weapon is a great offensive line."

Senior lineman Justin Davis:

"We take pride in knowing that All High is right behind our school.

"[This year] we're at practice more, we are all in. From the weight room to practice field, we put more effort into everything.

"Coach McDuffie, he basically told us the strength of the team is going to be the O-line and we have to take pride in that -- and that's what we did. That's what we like, running the ball, controlling the clock.

"The line of scrimmage is where the game is won, that and the preparation at practice."

"The whole tempo of school is better. You want to come to school because people will be talking about the big win that y'all had, and not losing like the past few years. It's just a fun thing to be a part of."

Senior running back Noah Jenkins, who transferred from Hutch-Tech:

"I kept hearing that this is the year -- everybody knew that this year was that year and everyone had that in their head.

"[Coach O'Connor] brings us a lot of really good plays, motivation for the line and the running backs and the whole team. He's the coach that gets all the film together, and when we do good, he take us out to eat. We love coach O'Connor."

Senior running back Javon Fogan:

"A big thing [this year] is that our line is very excellent. We're all in the weight room, showing up at practice on time, practice hard every day, cold or not cold.

"This year when McDuffie became coach, he put his foot down, letting players know that this is a new year, this is a new coaching staff, these are new players.

"This isn't the old Bennett anymore, this is the new Bennett."

"The line is the heart of the team. And we've got a lot of love for one another. We eat togehter, play together, practice together. We're one. They play for us, we play for them.

"We love each other. That says it all."

Fogan said teachers didn't brag about having a football player in class in his first three years on the team.

"They actually claim us now."

If you read to hear, you are one dedicated high school football fan, and I thank you. :-) See you at Prep Talk Live Friday night and Saturday afternoon. 

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

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Bennett | Football | High school football
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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

@KeithMcSheaBN | [email protected]

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