Purple Eagles have large veteran nucleus

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 22 August 2018 at 7:29 am

Photo by Mike Wertman – Albion’s large group of returning regulars includes, in front, Colton Howell, Donamic Farley, Bryce Pritchard, Matt Kovaleski, Jessy Cruz and Brilliance Johnson. In back are Kirk Ellison, Ben Restivo, Ryan Grandy, Ugene Harrison, Brennan Hughes, Jonathan DePuy and Ryan Croft. Missing from the photo is Nate Moore.

With no less than eight starters returning on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball Albion is looking to keep the momentum from last fall when the Purple Eagles claimed a share of a division title for the first time in 11 years and earned a berth in the sectional playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

On offense, the Purple Eagles return quarterback Bryce Pritchard, running back Ugene Harrison, wide receivers Nate Moore and Matt Kovaleski along with linemen Kirk Ellison, Ben Restivo, Jessy Cruz and Jonathan DePuy, all seniors. Junior running back Brilliance Johnson also saw plenty of action.

Pritchard threw 8 touchdown passes, 4 to Moore, and Harrison scored 11 TDs and rushed for 905 yards.

Pritchard, Harrison and Restivo all earned first team B2 Division All-Star honors while Moore, Kovaleski and Johnson were all second team pick. Ellison, Cruz and DePuy  received Honorable Mention.

“Offensively we’re blessed to have that many returners,” said Coach Adam Krenning. “Now it comes down to execution. Hopefully we can put it all together.”

Defensively, Albion returns Moore, Ellison, Restivo and senior Brennan Hughes on the line; Harrison, Cruz and senior Donamic Farley at linebacker and Kovaleski in the secondary.

“Defense wins games for you and we’ve got a great group of returners,” said Krenning.

Albion also returns varsity experience in seniors Isaiah Callicutt (FB/LB), Ryan Grandy (OL/DL), Sam Cucehiara (OL/DL), Miles Brewer (OL/DL) and Ryan Croft (FB/LB).

The Purple Eagles are also counting on juniors Thomas Furmanski (QB/DB), Kevin Hillman (WR/DB), Deyonci Farley (FB/DE) and Michael DiCureia (FB/LB).

“The experience we have should help us a lot but it’s all in how the kids perform,” said Krenning. “We’ve got a great JV program that really prepares the kids well.”

The Purple Eagles losses to graduation included linemen Justin Stritzinger, Caleb Pettit and Tyler Kast along with fullback/linebacker Demetrius Gardner, wide receiver/defensive back JaQuess Harrison and kicker Justin Robinson,  Gardner, Harrison and Pettit all earned first team division All-Star honors.

Albion which went 4-1 to share the B2 Division crown last year (6-2 overall) will open the division season at Olean on August 31.

August: 31 – at Olean, 7 p.m.
September: 7 – Lackawanna, 7 p.m.; 15 – Burgard, 7 p.m.; 21 – Depew, 7 p.m.; 28 – at Springville, 7 p.m.
October: 5 – Iroquois, 7 p.m.; at Medina, 7:30 p.m.