NORTH TONAWANDA — When it comes to golf at Niagara Wheatfield, the term “loss” isn’t often mentioned. In fact, it hasn’t been remarked in over five years, as the Falcons' victory Tuesday over Kenmore West pushed them to 93 consecutive wins.
Coming off a 23-0 season, during which the team won its fifth consecutive Niagara Frontier League title, expectations remain high as the Falcons begin the 2019 fall campaign.
The last time the Falcons found a “1” under the loss column was in 2014, when they took an "L" by finishing second in the NFL Tournament. The most recent head-to-head match loss came in 2013 versus Niagara Falls.
NW did endure the loss of some seniors this season, including Nolan Codd, who was on the roster from seventh to 12th grade.
Falcons coach Tim Codd admitted it’s odd to not have his son around like years past.
“It’s a big change,” Codd said. “He was on the roster with me all six years and, realistically, he’s been coming out to practices with me since he was in second grade. So, it’s definitely been an adjustment just not seeing him around, but he’s moved on and playing golf at SUNY Canton and he’s excited about what he’s doing, which makes me feel good.”
Despite the loss, the team returns junior Anthony Delisanti, who has medaled at the NFL Tournament the last two seasons and is an All-NFL first teamer, senior Adam Liberti and eighth-grader RJ Delisanti, who reached the Section VI Tournament last season.
Despite the loss of Nolan Codd and additional seniors, Coach Codd said he felt good returning the Delisantis, in addition to Liberti.
“It’s nice, because I know they’re going to be consistent players,” he said. “Day in and day out, they practice the way you want them to practice, and when it comes to playing in the matches, you can count on their scores to be successful between 38 to 44. You can count on those scores day in and day out.”
Some may ask what more the Falcons might achieve after so much continued success. That's not a problem for this group.
“The pressure is a little more higher for me,” Liberti said. “It means a lot personally to me that I have never felt a loss. So, I don’t ever want to feel it. (The streak) is always in the back of our minds.”
Delisanti added, “We expect the same stuff and we know we lost a lot of seniors, but the new guys have come in this year and we expect them to do the same thing. They’ve seen the seniors do all their work the past couple years and we expect the same thing basically.”
Placing names one through eight in a lineup could be difficult for Codd after losing some players, but like every year, he expects the new players to cycle in.
“We’ve graduated so many good seniors, but we’ve been very lucky that the kids coming in as seventh-, eighth- and even ninth-graders have learned what we want them to do and they’ve been able to fill the roles and the gaps that have been made by the graduating seniors," Codd said. "We have some young kids who have stepped up and played really well. But, year in and year out, it’s tough filling those gaps."
The Falcons said they usually keep the winning streak talk on the down low, but the truth is, the streak will be put to the test today at Kenmore East.
Last season, Niagara-Wheatfield’s streak was just a couple strokes away from coming to a close.
In late September, the Falcons visited Brighton Park Golf Course, the home of the Bulldogs. N-W was facing defeat heading into the last pairing of the day, but a score of 41 from Chris Cacciatore cancelled a higher score, resulting in a 247-249 Falcons victory, extending the winning streak to 79.
Just a couple days later, the Bulldogs visited Tan Tara Golf Club for another chance to end the Falcons’ streak, but were upended again, 251-264.
This season, Codd said Kenmore East will, once again, feature a deep roster that will give the Falcons a hefty task.
“It always comes down to whatever team is deeper. Your top players are usually going to cancel each other out, for the most part, because their scores are pretty close to even to each other. But as you get down to five, six, seven and eight, that’s where you’re going to win the match. And we’ll see how we do at the back end of our lineup,” Codd said.
Anthony Delisanti and Liberti have played their fair share of matches against East and know how tough the Bulldogs can be, but, as they’ve said before, they expect the same results.
“That’s the biggest match of the year and everyone knows that,” Delisanti said. “It’s just about preparing ourselves the right way just to be ready to play at Brighton and to just keep playing the way we’ve been playing and play consistently all year. That’s what we need to do.”
Liberti added, “I expect them to be good, but I just don’t expect them to be as good as us.”
Regardless of today's result, Codd, Liberti and Delisanti agreed the winning streak has been impressive and they don’t want it to end.
“It means a lot,” Liberti said. “It means a lot to the school, it means a lot to our team, and we just gotta go out there and try to keep it.”
“It’s something amazing to be a part of," Delisanti said. "I mean, I hope we can keep it going. I think it would be cool to get it to at least 100. I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.”
Codd said the streak is more than a number of wins.
“I think about, not so much the number of wins, but I think about the number of kids this streak has involved over the course five years,” Codd said. “The number of kids that have had a hand in a number of wins that we’ve been able to put together, to me, is more impressive than the streak itself, because it’s gone back over a long time. ... It’s kind of a unique thing that all these kids over the course of these years have had a hand in where we’re at today.”
The Falcons look to extend their win streak to 94 at 4 p.m. today.