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Bongiovanni replaces Fischer as Chautauqua Lake football coach

Another year, another football coach for Chautauqua Lake/Westfield.

For this coming season, that man will be Bryan Bongiovanni for the Thunderwolves.

Bongiovanni was appointed varsity head coach Wednesday night during a school board meeting for the season, which begins Monday with the first official day of practice for all schools in the state.

He takes over for Chautauqua County Sports Hall of Fame member Curt Fischer, who guided the program to a 4-4 mark during his only season as coach.

Fischer told The News on Wednesday that he was informed the school “wanted to go in a different direction.” He declined further comment.

"Chautauqua Lake thanks Coach Fischer for all of his time and effort he put forth with our football program this past season," CL Athletic Director Josh Liddell said after Wednesday's meeting. "We wish him the best with his future coaching endeavors."

Bongiovanni is a Fredonia High alumnus and has coached baseball for the Thunderwolves the past two seasons.

Since the end of 2015, there has been a different football coach each season for Chautauqua Lake. Adam Erickson (2016) and Rich Morton (2017) also had head coaching stints sandwiched between Fischer's.

"We have put together a great assistant coaching staff to help support Coach Bongiovanni and our team," Liddell said. "The coaching staff has been working hard to prepare for the upcoming season."

Fischer has a 225-49 record in 26 seasons. The first 25 were at Maple Grove, where he led the Red Dragons to state championships in 1998 and 2008 and to two state runner-up showings. After leaving Maple Grove in winter 2018, he was hired as coach at Chautauqua Lake.

This is the second year Chautauqua Lake and Westfield have merged to form one program.

For two seasons, Maple Grove and Chautauqua Lake were a merged program piloted by Fischer since Maple Grove was considered the host school. The merger dissolved prior to the start of the 2016 season.

Fischer has been involved in football for more than 30 years. He admits it feels funny not having to prepare for the first practice of the season. “Things are starting to happen … it’s so weird not coaching,” he said.

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