PV players fitting in nicely at Gowanda

After Pine Valley canceled its football season last week, those who wanted to were allowed to play at Gowanda, with six varsity players and four jayvee players taking advantage of the situation.

“Everything has happened so fast,” Gowanda head coach Sean Gabel said. “Once they told me about their situation, I was totally committed to helping those young men. And the next day, it was done. Everything has happened so quick, but I’m excited and very positive. They’re doing us a favor just as we’re doing them a favor. It’s a win-win for both schools.”

Gowanda, which competes in Class C, was thrilled to take on the Pine Valley players.

“I was very happy,” Gabel said. “I was happy we could offer our assistance and I was happy that our kids could have some competition and we could fill some holes and put kids in their right positions.

“It creates some more competition and that’s good,” Gabel continued. “It’s a building block for their future. (The players) have to taste that little bit of that drive to compete.”

Although they have only been in the Gowanda program for just over a week, Gabel noted the players that have come over are fitting in nicely.

“What a great bunch of young men,” Gabel said of the six Pine Valley transplants. “They couldn’t be more appreciative of what’s going on and they are so thankful they have a season and they can play more football.

“A hungry athlete is a very dangerous athlete,” Gabel added. “And they’re willing to learn and those are great qualities for a coach to have in one of his players. And I’m very excited.”

Given how quickly everything transpired, it would be understandable that the new additions would be a little further behind the players that were already in Gabel’s system. And that might be true, were it not for a bit of a coaching change shortly before the beginning of practice.

“To be honest, we just got our coaching situation figured out a day before practice began,” Gabel said. “We had one of our varsity coaches get hired in a different district for a teaching job, so there’s a lot of things we have to (devise) in these two weeks before the season starts.

“I had everything figured out and everyone assigned and my ideas of what I wanted to do and two days before (practice) everything was all switched up,” Gabel continued. “The white boards were all erased and we were right back to square one again.”

Although Gabel noted that his new players have brought their hard-working ethos to the team, he also knew he had to do something to help all of the players on the team mesh.

“(Tuesday) we ended practice a little early and one of my coaches set up a three-hole frisbee golf course,” Gabel said. “And we had some hot dogs and hamburgers and had the superintendent there. It was for the kids to have a little fun and get that camaraderie going. And it was a very good success. The kids had a good time, they mingled with each other and overall, it was a very positive experience. It’s not quite what you want to do during preseason, but for us to get to where we want to get to, I think it was very important to do this and get that camaraderie going, that togetherness and family feeling.

“I’m excited,” Gabel added. “And I know our program is excited. I’m just grateful we can help somebody out and in return, they’re helping us out the same. Everything has been so positive and I can’t say that enough. It’s going in the right direction. I’m very proud that (the Pine Valley players) are making that happen and (the Gowanda) players as well.”