DUNKIRK, NY (WNY News Now) — High school football players in northern Chautauqua County are preparing for the next season early, and they’re getting help from some big name athletes in the region.
Players from the Dunkirk Marauders in grades 8-12 began training at the school field on Sunday in the wake of a few rough years for the program.
The practice drills, led by Dunkirk native Joshua Cosme, are the first of their kind in the community, coming alongside several new opportunities for the students.
“This program was started to promote the recruiting process, for kids to get on to college and play college ball,” Cosme explained. “Also, we’ve never had an offseason program here in Dunkirk, or a weightlifting program, so we introduced that and we’re up to about 35 kids a day in the weight room consistently.”
The division B2 varsity football team has failed to record a winning season in the past four years, with its last playoff run coming in 2018.
Area coaches are working with students this year in the hopes of bringing the team back among the most elite schools in its class.
The Dunkirk City School District recently hired a new head coach for the team, a move which has delivered new motivation to the players.
“It’s really been Dunkirk vs. Dunkirk the last couple of years, so we’re really just trying to change it around,” sophomore Jaylen McMichael expressed. “You know, new generation, new timing, one team, one goal, just bring everybody together. Just bring Dunkirk back together like how it was in the good old days.”
The Marauders were joined by several college-level athletes, including two players from the Division 1 UB Bulls.
The team’s starting quarterback Cole Snyder, himself a native of Chautauqua County, was there training the next generation of signal callers, which he says is his way of supporting the community that helped him through his own journey.
“I decided it would be a great opportunity for me to give back,” Snyder said. “God has blessed me a lot in my life, and whatever I can do to give back to the community and help, for the place that raised me and gave me this opportunity, I love to do it.”
Organizers hope to bring in more talent as they continue to work with students all the way until the fall season.
For more on the program, visit the Dunkirk Football Club’s Twitter page.