Hodgdon enjoying coaching the Johnsonburg Shamrocks

Bob Parana - Staff Writer

The varsity Shamrock are currently 2-0 heading into their home matchup with St. Marys Saturday at the Paper City practice field. The team is on a quest for a third straight CPYFL championship. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. and will be preceded by the pee wee game at 12 p.m. and the JV contest at 2 p.m.

Varsity head coach Joe Hodgdon loves being part of the program and is thrilled to see how the team has progressed. “A lot of the kids when they first come in don’t know a lot about football and how to play. Over time it’s great to see how they turn into good football players,” he said as the teams were ready to hit the practice field after having their temperatures taken and going through the COVID-19 symptom checklist prior to Thursday’s practice. He's also happy to have the kids back on the field. “It was great seeing them. Nobody wants to see their kids cooped up like they were. It’s been a blessing to have all these kids come out for football. Not for just our team but all the other teams in the league. It’s great to see kids outside doing something.”

Hodgdon is taking over for Bill Dilley who was the longtime coach and accepts the challenge. “I kind have put a lot of pressure on myself. There is a lot of tradition here and it’s hard to keep up with it and keep winning,” said the coach who has been with the program for the previous four years at the pee wee and JV level.

The Johnsonburg program is about more than the sport according to Hodgdon. “They develop strong friendships and that’s good to see. The one thing we always preach is as long as we’re on the field we’re all brothers. You try to get the kids to understand that. We’re building something where we are one. We’re a team and everybody needs to help each other,” he said.

The program is a wonderful feeder program for the high school Elkers. Ridgway players past and present speak fondly of their Shamrock days which helped develop them into some of the best players in the area. “These kids get to start at such a young age. Back when I was younger we didn’t have a Shamrock team. My first opportunity to play was in the eighth grade. Now they’re starting at seven and eight and learning the game of football which is tremendous. They’re a good football player by the time they get to high school,” Hodgdon said.

The Shamrocks coach knows his team will be in a battle for another title with his two upcoming opponents St. Marys and Punxsutawney. “They are some heavy competition and are both powerhouses. We have a great defense and they have good offensive players. We’re going to game plan this week like we have been and try to stop them. Our defense is what is winning games for us. The kids are doing a great job,” said Hodgdon. Johnsonburg beat Treasure Lake 12-0 in the opener, shutout Kane 26-0 in a scrimmage, and beat Reynoldsville 8-6 last week.

Hodgdon knows his team wears the bullseye. ““Last year the varsity was unbelievable. We tell the kids all the time - everybody is coming for you. They don’t care if you were on this team last year – it’s Johnsonburg,” he said.

Coaches at all levels have helped keep the program in great shape.

“We’ve very fortunate with our coaches. Jeff Bruner and Paul Allegretto have worked tremendously on the defense and Jeff works really well with kids on the offensive and defensive lines. John Norlin and Dave Calla have helped our offense tremendously. They do a great job helping the kids learn the plays and to do what they’re supposed to do,” Hodgdon said of his varsity assistants.

The Shamrock head coach also feels the JV squad may be the best in the area. “Creg Pura has done a great job. They are an absolutely great team. They’re probably one of the best JV teams that I think has been in Johnsonburg for quite some time. They have a lot of talented kids and have numbers. They’re probably going to make a run for the championship,” he said. Pura is also the offensive coordinator and Travis Papa the defensive coordinator. Jamie Hake, Dave Dellaquila, and John Zimmerman are the assistants.

Hodgdon is very impressed with the pee wee squad

“It’s kind of funny when I saw the young kids sign up.I thought they might have a rough season but the head coach Mike Klink and his staff have done a tremendous job with the kids. I am extremely shocked by how well the pee wee kids have played. They are doing really well and that is great to see,” the coach said. Corey McCabe, Scott Rockwell, Dave Shaffer, Nolan Shaffer, Wyatt Shaffer, and Cassie Rockwell are the assistants.

Hodgdon also spoke highly of the cheerleading squads that add to the game-day energy. “It’s nice to have them. It’s great to have their support. I think the kids really appreciate that there is somebody always cheering for them no matter what the score is. They cheer from the beginning to the end just like we play,” he said.

The varsity head coach also talked about the dedication of the parents. “Obviously they have to bring their kids to practice and that’s not always easy. We get a lot of help at the concession stands and working the games. We couldn’t play without them. They do everything for us including traveling to the away games,” he said.

It’s always cool to see the younger players interact with the varsity kids. “When the younger kids are around the varsity players they look up to them. They’re probably a bit in awe because of the size difference but you can see how they want to be like them,” Hodgdon said.

The Shamrock coach spoke about why he loves to coach. “I get the satisfaction of seeing these kids mature while playing football and getting better at what they do. I’ve had kids that may have been a bit timid and this year it’s a whole different player. I really enjoy seeing kids enjoy the game and continuing to get better,” Hodgdon said.
Varsity roster: Hayden Brunner, Avery Bitler, Dallan Piccirillo, Hunter Hodgdon, Dean Lanese, Hunter Santiso, Parker Calla, Anthony Pistorio, Rocco Allegretto, Nathan Steger, Noah Stauffer, Xavier Stockman, Bryce Potts, Austin Polaski, Jack McAlee, Mason Gordon, and Levi Miller.
Charlie Steger, Jack Gardner, Brayden Klink, Jesse Brunner, Walker Miller, Owen Steger, Cooper Pura, David Kennedy, Jace Zimmerman, Jace Cenni, Huck Washburn, Bryce Potter, Dane Papa, Hunter Dellaquila, Xavier Stockman, Eli Morris, Mason Gordon, Jamez Magnusson, Marcus Gasbarre, Logan Hake, Tyler Campbell, Mathew Boschert, Hunter Miller, and Guido Mattivi.

Pee wee roster: Devin Klink, Jason Modaffare, Roman Carnahan, George Schreiber, Quaid Grunthaner, Ethan Wolfe, Charlez Magnusson, Chase Dinch, Bently Wiltrout, Jackson Modaffare, Emmett Rockwell, and Vincent Adamski.