Led by its seniors, Buchanan made the playoffs for the first time

Published 7:53 am Monday, November 15, 2004

By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
Buchanan head coach Joe Austin called 2004 a breakthrough season for the Bucks, and he gives most that credit to his seniors.
The Bucks had seven players this season start for their third straight year. In their three years, those seniors took Buchanan to one of its best ever seasons, culminating in the school's first playoff appearance and its first postseason victory.
Buchanan went 9-2 this year, it's most wins since 1988. The Bucks also qualified for the MHSAA playoffs for the first time in school history. Not only did they qualify, but they won their first playoff game ever before falling in the second round.
In the preseason, many people looked past Buchanan as possible playoff contenders. They were written off because of a 4-5 campaign in 2003. But Austin knew what his team was capable of heading into the season.
Buchanan's crew of seniors had been building up to this year, laying the foundation for the Bucks' record season for three years.
In 2002, Jared Rusher, Justin Helt, Ryan Carrigan, Jake Allen, Brenton Barcyzkowski, Gordon Bryant and John Gardner all started at the varsity level as sophomores. Because of their inexperience and low numbers on the team, the Bucks had a less-than-stellar year.
The Bucks finished with a losing record in 2003, going 4-5, but the team excelled at the end of the year. Buchanan's four victories that year came in a row to end the season.
This year, Buchanan picked up where it left off in 2003, starting 7-0 before losing a game. The Bucks won 11 straight games in a span that covered more than a year.
Buchanan's seven three-year starters, along with senior transfere Dennis Williams, played key roles in an offense that scored 35.5 points per game and a defense that limited opponents to 18.5 points per game.
Looking back on the Bucks' historic year, Austin said his team has a feel for what it accomplished, but it will take a little while before the importance of this season sets in.
The Bucks were very disappointed with the way the season ended, Austin said, a 56-19 loss to Constantine in the distritct finals. Even after the heart-breaking loss, he added, the players were still able to see how great of a season they had as a whole.
Now that Buchanan has had a taste of postseason play, Austin hopes it will fuel the team's desire to go even further in next year's playoffs. He said this year's squad has raised the football program to where it can be successful in the postseason.
Now that the season is over, Austin said improvement for next year begins now. He said players have already started lifting and getting stronger. Hard work in the off-season leads to success on the field he said.
We had a great year. I First year, winning season missed by oe game. Struggled next year. Beat River valley who won league, lost some close games. Following year, numbers really down. last year came back. 3 year starters . Tells me
Great to make playoffs, only one team can win it. We'll except that, don't feel ashamed at all. When get to next level in p. Build on success for future.
Hoping. Got on roll after tough losses last year. picked up where left off. Won 11 in a row. Football camp. Expect in weight room get themselves bigger.
Tough cal on MVP, hard to separate, Bryant did so many big things for us this year. Carrigan, Williams hard to not include.