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New-look Wildcats still have winning in mind

Changes in personnel are an inevitable part of high school sports. One class leaves, then another steps in and takes their shot.

In the case of the West Genesee football team, though, the upheaval is much greater, at least when it comes to the 2009 season.

No less than 34 seniors are gone from last fall's Section III Class AA finalists that went 8-2, falling to Henninger 44-27 in the title game at the Carrier Dome after thrilling playoff wins over Corcoran and Liverpool (the latter in double overtime).

Many of those graduating seniors, including Joe Fazio, Jake Fietkiewicz, Ryan McConnell, Christos Dimkos, Stefan Cavedine, Craig Simmons and Kevin Petrick, played key roles in the Wildcats' 2007 state title run.

This vast amount of senior leadership made the coaching transition from Steve Bush to Joe Corley a lot smoother, a fact Corley readily acknowledges. Still, he's not discounting what a new group of stars could do this fall in his second year at the helm.

"These kids will be ready," Corley said. "It's a challenge, but it's not impossible. We still want to win as many games as we can."

WG has its third starting quarterback in as many years. Connor Zeman gets the honor this time, and though he's a senior, Corley said that Zeman has many of the same skills and qualities that his successful predecessors, Tim Moran and Jim Marks, possessed -- and they got just one season under center.

On the surface, at least, the biggest challenge for Zeman would be to find receivers as effective as Fazio and Fietkiewicz were for two seasons. The answer might be quantity, as Josh Phillips, Justin Capella, Tom Stagnitta, Pat Brown and Matt Naton all could line up in the slot. WG also has a strong pair of tight ends in seniors Mike Moran (Tim's younger brother) and Turner Parry.

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