JAMESTOWN, N.Y. (WIVB) — Even in an abnormal year, the Southwestern Trojans put together another standout season, going undefeated through the shortened regular season and advancing to their fifth straight Section VI Championship game.
“We just put hard work in every day at practice. It was definitely different compared to a normal football season, playing in the spring, temperatures in the beginning were much colder in the spring, we played in the snow a couple times, and then at the end of the season it was very hot, so it was just a little different, but we adapted well,” Southwestern junior wide receiver Matt Pannes said.
“It put a lot more emphasis on every single game. The point differential and seeding system made everything that much more important. A fumble could cost you making the playoffs or not making the playoffs,” Southwestern head coach Jake Burkholder said. “It’s really helped us to give us a goal, now going forward we can use that information from the shortened season and the importance of turnovers and things like that.”
“Last year, I learned a lot, I made big steps, and I’m very excited to see what our team can put out this fall, especially with all the fans in the crowd again,” Southwestern senior quarterback Aidan Kennedy said.
A big part of the Trojans spring success was due to quarterback Aidan Kennedy, who led all of Western New York in passing with 1,244 yards and 16 touchdowns in his junior campaign.
“He’s a hard worker, he leads by example, he’s getting more vocal as time goes,” Coach Burkholder said. “He was the leading passer in Western New York, he puts in a lot of time on his own, at camps, at different college visits and things like that, so he’s a great example for a lot of these younger kids to follow in his footsteps and it’s obviously been paying off for him if we can keep the momentum rolling with him.”
“Our coaches each week put us in the best situation. They prepare us defense wise for what our game plan is. They really help me simplify the game when I get out there, they make practice hard so I’m comfortable being uncomfortable,” Kennedy said. “Being close with the team, I think chemistry is a huge part of that, having my timing down with the receivers, mesh with the running back, I think all of that contributes and helps me go out and perform on Friday nights.”
“I love him. If we got a corner press me or something he can just switch me, give me a route. He’s great, he’s really good,” Pannes said. “I like having him. It’s like a bonus almost, because most QBs are not like that in high school, so it’s nice.”
Southwestern opens up the 2021 fall season on Saturday, September 4th when they travel to play Iroquois in a non-league game.