The Post-Journal

Fischer Led Red Dragons Into Regional For Second Time

Repeat Berth Accomplished With Three Senior Starters

As a coach, sometimes you have to know what buttons to push.

Sop when the Maple Grove Red Dragons trailed Randolph, 21-6, at halftime in Week Two and were in danger of losing their second straight game, Curt Fischer left his players alone to think about what they had to do.

“I just thought all the yelling and screaming wasn’t going to do us any good,” he said. “it was a good time for them to sit down and do what they had to do.”

So with their season in danger of being over almost before it began, the Red Dragons regrouped, took advantage of four second-half Randolph turnovers and went on to post a stunning 28-21 victory.

That game and, as it turned out, the season were saved. Even in the locker room, Fischer knew when to make the right call.

Maple Grove went on to win the Division 9 title and the Section 6 Class D championship, again over Randolph. The Red Dragons advanced to the West Regional where they were defeated by Clyde-Savannah, 38-20.

Yet with a 9-2 record, Maple Grove had exceeded the expectations of Fischer, who started just three seniors.

“The young kids played really well,” he said after the loss to Clyde-Savannah. “When you consider we replaced three offensive lineman, three running backs and the tight end on offense and we still came back here. We’re really happy.”

But that happiness is usually the norm with the football program on the Dutch Hollow Road. While Fischer has been wildly successful on the field -the Red Dragons are 19-3 the last two years and 46-12 since he took over in 1992 – it’s his ability to relate to his players off it that sets him apart.

“Really, that passion just comes from the kids,” he said during an interview before the season started. “Just being there and being part of their lives, knowing what an important role I do play in their lives. That’s where I come from, knowing how important it is for them to succeed and just being part of that.”

“You obviously don’t get to every one of them, but I think with 90 percent of them I’m really tight. It’s incredible to watch them grow.”

That was evident this season.

After losing their opener at Cattaraugus and nearly falling to Randolph in their second game, the Red Dragons ran the table, downing Frewsburg, Westfield, Pine Valley, Franklinville, Chautauqua Lake and Brocton before knocking off Cattaraugus and Randolph in the playoffs.

Only the setback to Clyde-Savannah spoiled the ride.

“It was a great season and I’m really going to miss those seniors that are leaving,” Fischer said. “We’re going to get right back in the weight room. Hopefully, we’ll be back here again with that young team.”

Spoken like a true winner.

For that reason, Fischer is The Post-Journal’s Coach of the Year for the second straight season.

The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.