Amherst ‘excited’ to begin football season

By Joel Charron

It’s a championship or bust.

That the common theme amongst General Amherst football players as they gathered for the first official practice of the season Monday morning,

Coach John Rudak addresses the General Amherst Sr. boys football team before the start of their first practice.

“I’m really excited this year,” said returning starting quarterback Mike Mallender. “We have our whole team back and we’re gearing up for a championship this year.”

The Bulldogs boast large number of returning players, including seven all-stars from last year’s squad and everyone’s focus is on improving what was a down year for Amherst football, despite playing in the Wilson Conference finals.

“It’s championship or bust. We really don’t have an excuse,” said Mallender. “We have to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way and keep rolling.”

At the helm will be new head coach and Amherst athletic director John Rudak.

Rudak, who is coming from Windsor/Essex County football powerhouse Herman said he’s excited to get the season under way and knows the players expect good things this year.

“They know what kind of talent they have on the field,” said Rudak. “I don’t think it’s unrealistic to hope for a championship. There are probably two or three teams that we will run with being in the top of the division.”

Rudak also mentioned that he hopes to finish in the top two at the end of the regular season to receive a first round bye in the playoffs.

“Pretty much everyday of my whole summer was occupied at some time thinking about what we can do to make ourselves better and make things easier,” said Rudak. “It’s always with me all the time.”

Morning practice was more about getting into the swing of things before the heavier practices start later in the week. The team worked on skills and drills while wearing only shoulder pads and helmets.

Rudak told the Bulldogs that they would be practicing everyday, including weekends, in order to prepare for the game against Divine Child in the United States next week.

The returning players know they will be looked upon to take more of a leadership role this year.

“I’m ready to take on that kind of role,” said Adam Robinson, last year’s offensive MVP. “I can be a little goofy sometimes but when it comes down to it I’ll know when to be serious.”

“I’m looking forward to leading this team,” he continued.

The hard-hitting Aaron Harber agreed with Robinson.

“It’s going to be a really good year,” said Harber. “With a lot of new guys joining the team I feel like I have to step up and so do a lot of the other guys. We feel like we can contend with the top teams in the region.”

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