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Dennis Bender departs from Shaker

Dennis Bender's last game as Shaker's football coach ended in another heartbreaking loss.

Bethlehem made a two-point conversion in overtime to defeat the Blue Bison 29-28 in last Thursday's crossover game in Latham.

Bender told his players the night before the game that he was resigning after six years as Shaker's head coach a decision he said he made before the first practice in August.

I talked to [athletic director] Ed Dopp following last season and said I wanted to give it one more year," said Bender. "I told my varsity coaches about it before the season began. We knew going into this year ... that this would be my last year, and we kept it in our little circle as long as we could."

Bender said his decision was based on his need to be with his family, and not on wins and losses.

"My wife and I will be doing some traveling," said Bender. "My son is seven years old, and he's involved in youth sports. So, we'll be definitely watching those games."

No successor has been named, and Bender said he anticipates it may be months before a new coach is tapped.

"We're going to let some things rest for a while and let me walk off into the sunset," said Bender.

Whoever takes over for Bender will inherit a team that has several talented players scheduled to return next season including quarterback Ben Capeless, running backs Kyle Bernard and Conor Alund, and fullback Sam Hyatt.

"With a combination of Kyle [Bernard] and Conor [Alund] and some receiver help for Ben [Capeless], I think they should be solid next year," said Bender.

The next coach will also have some players from a junior varsity team that won the Class AA title for the second time in three years.

"Although we won the JV championship, that doesn't always translate [to varsity success]," said Bender. "Those kids have to understand that they have to still mesh with the veterans, and they still have to work hard."

With the loss to Bethlehem, Shaker ended Bender's last season with a 3-6 record.

In other Class AA crossover action last week, Colonie (4-5) defeated Albany 32-7, while Christian Brothers Academy (1-7) was scheduled to play Columbia.

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