2015-PRESS-M-E's HISTORIC RUN IS YEARS IN THE MAKING
written by Robert Centorani
Press Connects 9\25\2015
Remember seeing the late Dick Russ some years ago at a youth football game. He might have had a grandson playing and my oldest son played.
We started talking football and Russ — a 27-year varsity football coach at Chenango Forks and Maine-Endwell — said that if he had 15 good athletes on his roster, he knew it would be a good season. If it was in the 20-25 range, “Look out,” he said.
Russ coached some very good teams but never a state champion (know that for much of Russ' career the state tournament didn't exist). Even his “look out” squads never made it to a 13th week.
How many good athletes does it take to service the roll Maine-Endwell has enjoyed over the last four-plus seasons?
Who knows? But they've benefited from some very good players. Teams don't fluke their way to 54 straight victories.
I’m a newcomer to this streak, having covered only the last two games of it. In one sense, though, I was there at the ground floor.
Saw a bunch of youth games some years back. Back then, my son played for the Town of Binghamton Sabers. Matt Gallagher was present in those days, before he became M-E's head coach. I knew him when he was the Spartans' varsity wrestling coach. His kids also played in the travel league.
Those paying close attention — this had to be 8 or 9 years ago — probably noticed M-E had something brewing. Not necessarily because M-E dominated the league, it didn't (the TOB Sabers beat Tioga for the 9- and 10-year old championship one of those seasons). But M-E had a bunch of teams in the league. It was ridiculous. Every other weekend, it seemed, we drove to Maine to play M-E White or M-E Blue or M-E Gold.
Eventually, the best of those kids meshed into one varsity team. And that's where we are now: State-record winning streak, second-longest active winning streak in the nation, four straight state championships and no end in sight for these Spartans.
Competition is a good thing. M-E's roster this season numbers 33. When it had all those youth teams going at once nearly a decade ago, the number of kids playing likely doubled that.
So to make it on M-E's varsity team, you'd better be good and you'd better be committed.
“We're working out all the time, lifting in the offseason the whole time,” M-E senior Brady Wisniewski said after a 62-6 thumping of SV on Saturday. “We're close as a team.”
Gallagher took a moment Saturday to thank all of those volunteer coaches who made it possible for M-E to field all those youth teams.
“We've built a culture and kids want to play,” Gallagher said. “They look up to (the current varsity players). These guys are great role models. They do the things they're supposed to do. Any parent would want their son or daughter to be like these guys. Hopefully, that gets more people involved and we'll have powerful teams for years to come.”
As Russ said, it takes than more than a few talented people to build a powerhouse. M-E's youth programs have stocked the Spartans with more than enough quality players to fuel this historic run.