Preseason Football Frenzy: Herkimer Magicians

Posted on Aug 19 2016 - 12:49pm by Josh McMullen
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School: Herkimer Magicians

Head Coach: Ron Gatto, Jr. (first year at Herkimer, fifth overall)

Assistant Coaches: Brian Reile, Eric Hubbell, Jason Alexander, Matt Watkins

2015 Season Review:  The Magicians began the 2015 campaign by reeling off four straight wins, most notable among them wins over Canastota and cross-town rival Little Falls. However, back-to-back losses to eventual sectional champion Notre Dame and Holland Patent left Herkimer on the outside looking in for a sectional playoff spot going in to the last week of the regular season. Fortunately for the Magicians, they braved the cold and the late October rain to knock off rival Frankfort-Schuyler and secure the seventh seed with a 5-3 record. However, lightning could not strike twice for the Magicians, as they were eliminated in the sectional quarterfinals by their Week One opponent, Canastota, by the score of 58-29.


A true

For the first time since 2013, Herkimer will not have the services of All-State player Mitchell Scherer.


2016 Outlook: It’s going to be a year of new beginnings for the Magicians this year. Not only is long-time head coach Alan Steele gone, all-state quarterback/defensive back Mitchell Scherer is gone as well. In their place are former Frankfort-Schuyler assistant Ron Gatto, Jr and a competition in training camp between several quarterbacks. However, none of the leaders for Herkimer seem rattled by the major losses.

“The kids are just as excited as I am,” Gatto said. “It’s been a big step, but everyone is very welcoming here. They’re good learners…they’re very eager and picking up everything.”

“It’s a learning experience,” senior running back Antonio Aceto said of life without Steele or Scherer. “We have a lot of young kids looking to work. We’ll adapt….what else are you going to do?”


Antonio Aceto's number will be called early and often this season.

Antonio Aceto will have his number called early and often this season.


Returning Starters: The Magicians will return 15 starters on both sides of the ball for Gatto. Because Herkimer is one of the smaller schools in the Valley, numbers are slim, so all fifteen returning Magicians will likely be asked to play on both offense and defense for Herkimer.

Top Returners: Antonio Aceto (RB/LB), Brian Mula (WR/CB), Ronnie Gage (CB/RB), and Marshall Borek (LB/RB).

Newcomers to Watch: Ethan Swald (WR/DB), Wyatt Renshaw (QB/DB), Cameron Thompson (DE/TE), Jon Chimento (QB/DB)

Strengths: Gatto quickly admitted that one of the Magicians’ strengths this season would be the running game, and that would be no surprise, with Aceto, one of the best runners in the Valley, in the Magicans’ starting lineup.

Gatto also cited the leadership of the returning seniors as a strength for the Magicians. “We have a good corps of returning seniors, and some good kids stepping up,” Gatto said. That corps will have to make leaps and bounds against some very tough competition as Herkimer makes the drop back down to Class D this year.


The starting quarterback job will be decided during training camp and beyond

The starting quarterback job will be decided during training camp and possibly beyond.


Possible Weakness: The schedule is definitely a problem for Herkimer this season. The Class D Eastern Division is one of the toughest in Section III from top to bottom, with perennial powerhouse Dolgeville and last year’s sectional runner up West Canada Valley among their opponents. To compound matters for Herkimer, joining them in their drop to Class D is long-time rival Frankfort-Schuyler. However, Gatto is not rattled by the challenge.

“We’re going to be in a battle every week,” Gatto said. “You can’t take a day off, you can’t take a game off. You’re playing for a section title when the season began three days ago.”

Keys to Season: One of the big keys to the season for Herkimer will be establishing who is their starting quarterback very quickly. Gatto has his eye on two viable prospects at the start of training camp this season: Wyatt Renshaw and Jon Chimento. Whichever one shines during camp will likely lead the Magicians on the field this year.

Another big key will be how the team gells under a new coach. Most of the players currently under the roster spent at least one year under former head coach Alan Steele. The arrival of Gatto heralds a new system, and how quickly the Magicians adjust to the new system will dictate how Herkimer fares this year.

Sectional Titles: Three.

Last Sectional Title: 2013, as a member of Class D. The Magicians walked all over current Class D champion Sandy Creek. Leading 21-14 at the half, Herkimer scored 22 unanswered points and shut out the Comets in the second half en route to a 43-14 victory.

2016 Schedule:

September 3: @ West Canada Valley, 1:30

September 9: vs. Morrisville-Eaton/Hamilton, 7

September 17: @ Westmoreland, 1:30

September 23: vs. Frankfort-Schuyler, 7

October 1: @ Dolgeville, 1:30

October 7: @ Sauquoit, 7

October 14: vs. Mount Markham, 7