Wallenpaupack Area faces a number of challenges this fall

Wallenpaupack Area is coming off one of its best years in program history.

The Buckhorns posted seven regular season wins en route to the Division I, District Two and Class 5A subregional championships.

Dr. Mark Watson’s squad also earned a berth in the PIAA state tournament, capping a season that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

“I’m very proud of all we accomplished,” said the veteran skipper.

“What we did on the field was outstanding, but I’m even more proud of the fact that we’re sending 10 kids on to play in college. That’s pretty darn impressive.”

Media Day

The first step along the path to defending their titles was taken last week at the 10th Annual Lackawanna Football Conference Media Day.

This year’s edition of the event took place Wednesday afternoon at the Regal Room in Olyphant.

The luncheon attracted players and coaches from all over the region in anticipation of the 2019 campaign which kicks-off Friday, August 23.

“I’m always excited to start a new season,” said Dr. Watson. “We obviously lost a bunch of players to graduation, but we have a pretty solid nucleus returning, especially at the skill positions.”

Paupack opens up on the road against Valley View. The Bucks then host their home opener versus archrival Honesdale on Friday night, August 31.

Leadership

Dr. Watson selected two battle-tested veterans to represent his team at this year’s Media Day luncheon.

Brandon King and Anthony Dalessio are both seniors. Each played a key role in leading Paupack to an appearance in the PIAA state tournament.

As a sophomore, King earned a starting position at defensive tackle. Last fall, he moved to the offensive line and earned All-LFC status at center.

“Brandon is a very physical player and everyone knows how much we like physical kids,” Dr. Watson said with a smile.

“He’s a hard worker who really sets a good example on and off the field.”

Dalessio is a versatile player who contributed key plays on offense, defense and special teams. Anthony led the squad with 30 receptions, good for 422 yards and four touchdowns.

“The thing I like most about Anthony is his versatility,” Dr. Watson said. “He’s also a very tough kid. Anthony battled his way back from a nasty knee injury and we’re excited to see what he can do as a senior.”

Ready to Roll

Paupack will once again compete in the always-rugged LFC Division I.

Last fall, the Buckhorns powered their way to a 4-0 record and captured the divisional crown.

Dr. Watson’s lads then defeated Southern Lehigh (28-10) and East Stroudsburg South (29-7) en route to both the D2 and subregional titles.

Paupack’s dominating performances resulted in an invitation to states. Sadly for local fans, this unforgettable run ended in the first round with a 31-0 loss to Hollidaysburg.

Duplicating this record-setting season will be a tall order considering the fact that more than 20 seniors were lost to graduation.

One of Dr. Watson’s biggest concerns is that overall numbers in the program are down this year. At the moment, there are less than 40 players in the varsity roster.

“That’s unusual for us,” he admitted. “Unless something changes in the next couple of weeks, we may have to promote a few freshmen which is a move I don’t usually like to make.”

Whereas Paupack’s primary strengths in 2018 were its offensive and defensive lines, this fall Dr. Watson expects his corps of skill position players to be front and center.

“Alex Gardsy is looking good at quarterback and I really like what I’m seeing from guys like Dalessio at receiver and Shadrak Ajai at tailback.”

Paupack's first on-field action this fall will take place on Saturday, August 17. The Bucks will travel to Lackawanna Trail for a tri-scrimmage with the Lions and Western Wayne.

Action gets underway at 10 a.m. at Trail.