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Check out the online standings

This was asked about in last night's chat, and we're glad to have an answer one night later.

Our standings page -- which is also available through a link on the high school home page under the Scholastic Spotlight heading -- is updated with spring sports.

First of all, our apologies on the delay of having the page up. It's been part of a huge overhaul in how we take scores, a process which began with basketball for the winter and then moved on to all sports for the spring.

The standings for most team sports are included, along with all scores that have been reported to us. The standings are based off of those scores.

If any standings are incomplete and/or there are scores missing, it's most likely due to the same reason: That the scores weren't reported to us (we certainly may have goofed on some things, but the vast majority of missed games are due to them never being called in by coaches -- which is an unfortunate circumstance that just shouldn't happen).  

We also realize the one page is a lot to digest. We plan on upgrading the page with links that will take you directly to certain sports (like the ones on our scoreboard page -- which can be used to view the scores and future scheduled games through its clickable calendar).

Ultimately we hope to have separate pages for each sport. We have a lot more planned beyond that and will be working on a lot of things that we'll add for the 2011 fall season. 

If you have any suggestions for improvements or upgrades, please comment on this post, e-mail me (linked below), or use the Twitter or facebook links below. Thanks very much for your patience as we continue to improve buffalonews.com's high school coverage.  

---Keith McShea
(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

Timon names Comerford new football coach (with more quotes, stats)

Bishop Timon-St. Jude has hired Charlie Comerford as its new football coach. 

Comerford was chosen to replace coach Al Monaco, who was let go earlier this year.

My story for Thursday's paper is here. The move was also discussed during tonight's chat.

* * *

"We had a search committee, and we picked him," said athletic director Jim Palano. "It's like deja vu here, he's going to have young Paul Fitzpatrick [Jr.] with him and another couple of guys who are in our Hall of Fame from around that time, 2000 to 2002. We're excited about it. We're certainly appreciative of what Al Monaco did here, but it's time to turn a new page."

Comerford is one of the greatest athletes to ever play at Timon. He was a two-time first-team All-Western New Yorker in football and basketball and was also All-Catholic in baseball. He went to Holy Cross to play both sports but a back injury halted his athletic career.

"If he didn't get hurt, I think you'd see him in the NFL today, like a Gronkowski, I really do," said Palano, referencing the three Gronkowski brothers from Williamsville. 

Comerford assisted the coaching staff at Holy Cross for two years after he was injured and Palano said he helped out at Timon while he was in law school. 

"He doesn't have a ton of experience, so if there's any knock on him, that's it," said Palano. "But I know the kid, I know the passion he has for Timon High School. To coach here in South Buffalo, you have to know the heartbeat of the school, and he does.

"There are a lot of plusses. He certainly knows the game, he'll hustle and work hard. If he brings the same competitive spirit he did when he played, he'll be fine.

Palano said that Dave Comerford, Charlie's father and a coach when Charlie played, will also be part of the staff. Another assistant will be former Timon standout Nick Parisi, who, like Comerford and Fitzpatrick, are members of the school's Hall of Fame.

Palano agreed that one of the major benefits of hiring Comerford is to tap into a recent era of greatness at the school. Football has struggled since then, while overall enrollment remains behind other League AA members St. Joe's, Canisius and St. Francis.

"Our football has been down -- we haven't done well for various reasons," said Palano. "It's never anything bad as far as Al Monaco goes -- I taught him, I hired him. We've had a lack of talent, and it's tougher for us to compete. In football you need so many guys. In baseball you need five or six guys and two pitchers. In basketball you need two or three. In football you need 15-18 kids. We have a decent squad coming back, we just have to put things together.

"When kids see Charlie in the gym, they know him probably as the best athlete to ever come out of this building, along with Tommy Ryan. He was all-state in football and basketball and his third sport was baseball, and he was All-Catholic in that, too.

"With Charlie and guys like [current basketball and baseball assistant] Joe Mihalics, these are guys I love. Charlie is getting married this month, he has a house in the neighborhood not far from his dad's. Hopefully it will attract kids to the school. Face it, winning breeds kids and we need to win to get some kids. In sports, when you win, you get noticed."

* * * 

Here are some additional quotes from Comerford:

"I think the kids are the same at Timon when I was there or in the 80s. We just have to get the best out of them, and I'm going to try my hardest. I think I can try to get couple more kids in school who haven't been playing to play, and once we start winning some games we'll get more kids, both kids in the school and [local] grade schools in the area. I think we'll get a better student-athlete in the near future.

"We've got to get the kids in school -- there are still great athletes, lacrosse is great and basketball is doing well. The kids are there.

"We have a cuple obstacles as far as enrollment goes, but when I was there from 1998 to 2000 it was the same number of kids. We had 25 to 20 kids and we competed with the St. Joe's, Canisius, St. Francis, Aquinas, Cathedral Prep. There's a little more disparity now, but I think the kids are the same. We have obstacles other schools don't have, but I don't see that as an excuse to lose."

Comerford has been back in Buffalo three years and works for a demolition and asbestos company; he lived in Washington, D.C., for three years and Cleveland for one. 

As far as hands-on changes, he said he wanted to get the players into college-like workout programs.

"We need to have kids lifting more, with more college-based lift programs, not whatever they want to do it whenever they want to do it.

"I'm going to bring a brand of hard work to the kids -- we want to be more prepared than any team in Western New York. We were with coach Fitzpatrick. We had to work harder and we had to be more prepared than our opponent -- we had to be." 

* * * 

Timon football since Comerford graduated in 2001, which was the last season before a playoff was instituted in the Monsignor Martin Association (Timon has never appeared in the championship game at Ralph Wilson Stadium):

2001: 6-3, 2-1 (League AA co-champs with St. Francis)
2002: 4-4, 2-1
2003: 6-4, 1-2
2004: 5-4, 1-2
2005: 2-7, 0-3 (Paul Fitzpatrick's 28th and final year)
2006: 2-7, 1-2 (alum Al Monaco, Fitzpatrick's longtime assistant, takes over as coach)
2007: 3-7, 0-3
2008: 5-5, 0-3
2009: 1-9, 0-3
2010: 3-7, 0-3

* * * 

My very bad: Monaco's record was 14-35. I erroneously computed the totals for the record that appeared in the paper and shorted it two wins. I caught it too late for the paper, while I was updating this blog with more info. We will run a correction. 

---Keith McShea
(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

Live chat (May 11): Football talk starts with Timon, sizing up Section VI, small schools vs. large, ECIC vs. NFL softball, scattered baseball hits

We'll chat high school sports tonight at 9:45, and it will be nice to have some extended sunny-day action to discuss for the first time this season. There have also been some major developments in the football world of late.

As always, anything in the world of high school sports -- or our coverage of it -- is up for discussion. 

I promise I'll get to your question or comment in the chat -- but please be patient. It can get busy fielding all of the questions and I can only answer one at a time. And PLEASE don't enter your question/comment multiple times -- that only makes things more hectic.

* * *  

* * *

Our previous chats this season: last week (May 4); the first chat of the "spring" was on April 27.

Our April 13 chat focused largely on the All-Western New York basketball team.

Previous chats from this past winter season: April 6 (post Niagara PAL/ACE game), March 30 (post-Federation), March 23 (post-Final Four), March 16 (pre-Final Four), March 9 (pre-Far West Regionals), March 2 (after the Manhattan Cup and A-1 semifinals), Feb. 23 (prequarterfinal Wednesday), Feb. 17Feb. 9Feb. 2, Jan. 26, Jan. 19, Jan. 12, Jan. 5 (back from the break), Dec. 15 (from the Monsignor Martin-ECIC challenge), Dec. 9 (post-All-Western New York football discussion) and Dec.1.

You can check out the final live chat of the fall season -- as well as check out an archive of the 12 weekly discussions of the fall -- via our post of the Nov. 23 chat. For the super-chat-fan out there, this link takes you to the 2009-10 spring and winter archives.

As always, if you have a question but you won't be able to make the chat, post one in the comments section or email me and I'll do my best to address it.

---Keith McShea
(www.twitter.com/keithmcsheabn)

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

Remembering Coach Francescone

Former City Honors coach Drake Francescone passed away over the weekend. Jerry Sullivan wrote an outstanding column on him in today's paper.

I began working at The News in October of 1999. I missed covering Francescone's accomplishments in other sports, including volleyball, in which he set the standard for one of Western New York's best programs that has been continued on by Deborah Matos.

I knew Francescone as a basketball coach, and a great one. 

In Sully's column, he mentions the City Honors awards banquet that followed their 2003 state championship. I was there, too.

I really don't make a habit of attending those kind of affairs -- because I don't want to be viewed as playing favorites, and there are just too many of them, things like that.

I started to mention those things to coach Francescone after he invited me. But actually, it wasn't exactly an invitation. It was somewhere in between a strong suggestion and an order, not unlike the many he gave so many players over the years. I was going, and that was that.

It was one of the most special evenings I've been a part of. As Sully wrote about, Francescone had all of the players speak. There were many touching moments. Seniors talked about how far they progressed. Underclassmen talked about where they wanted to end up. Team managers (including perhaps the best one I've ever dealt with) were even part of the proceedings.

Francescone even had a player take to the podium even though he didn't play at all during the season. He wasn't academically eligible, and for a moment during the banquet, Francescone was coaching the kid right up there on the dais -- simultaneously chiding the player for not making the grade while giving him the goal to do so the next season, right there in front of a room full of people.

The night was an example of what can be so right about high school sports. Kids that might have not hit the books were given a reason to, and were given a coach that would make sure they would. Kids from different backgrounds, different levels of talent, worked together to be successful against the odds, to form one of the most enjoyable teams I've ever covered. 

One of those Centaurs was A'aron Mungro, whose play inspired me to name an A'aron Mungro All-Hustle Team, something that has become a staple of the annual Prep Talk All-Championship Week Awards. City Honors certainly had some skilled players (including 2003 Player of the Year Micole Parker), but they were undersized against every opponent. They were so good because of their desire, their passion, their smarts, their teamwork -- and all that was funneled to the floor by their coach.

Francescone was fiery, sometimes foul-mouthed, a disciplinarian who was a domineering presence on the sideline and in his huddles. People like to throw the term "tough love" around when a coach is being hard on a player, but Francescone delivered both parts of that phase out in equal doses. He cared for his players, and he wanted them to learn from their experiences, which is why he was so tough.

He demanded the best out of his athletes, and in the end -- as I heard in story after story at that postseason awards night in 2003 -- those players loved him for it.

* * * 

Addition: Here's The News' obituary, which appeared in Wednesday's papers.

---Keith McShea
(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

Junior Combine draws area's best at The Ralph

What a day for the Western New York Junior Combine Saturday where about 150 high school juniors worked out in front of a slew of college coaches. One coach from Northern Ohio even made the 5 1/2 haul to check out Section VI's finest. Buffalo State? Seven coaches in attendance.

Unlike years past, players weren't timed or measured in any way like the NFL Combine. Instead, they broke off into position groups and did their thing at a picturesque Ralph Wilson Stadium. As a result, they got a ton of reps in. Talking to the players, that's exactly how they'd like it. All football.

In addition to today's story, here a few clips from the combine:

 

 

 

 

---Tyler Dunne

Silver Creek boys lax ends OP's 95-game WNY win streak

Silver Creek boys lacrosse recorded a massive win at Orchard Park this evening, beating the Quakers, 12-11, to end OP's Western New York win streak at 95 games.

I certainly thought the Black Knights would give OP a good run, but I didn't think the high-quality-but-low-quantity Class C champs (who I wrote about in Tuesday's Scholastic Spotlight) would be able to take down Class A's OP, which is renowned for overwhelming teams with its depth.

OP's having to go OT to win at Lancaster Thursday night was certainly an eyebrow-raiser, but I thought late-season games against Clarence or Bishop Timon-St. Jude would be the ones to end OP's run.

The scoreboard page has some stats and highlights -- here's an expanded version of the online recap and the story that will appear in Monday's paper:

* * * 

Silver Creek coach Bill Brennan told his team that if they pulled off a victory at Orchard Park on Saturday, they'd be a front-page story in The Buffalo News.

Guess where the Black Knights are going to be in Sunday's paper?

Silver Creek delivered a landmark win in Western New York high school sports by beating Orchard Park, 12-11, to end the Quakers' 95-game win streak against local competition.

The last time the dominant OP program lost to a Western New York team was on April 15, 2005, when it had a WNY winning streak of 129 games (lasting over 11 years) end with a 14-5 loss at Amherst.

"I told the boys, that if they won it was going to go on the front page," said Brennan. "[At the final whistle] the boys ran out on the field like we just won the championship. I didn't watch the clock late in the game, but it seemed like it was running forever. Give the boys the credit. They put in the hard work, and hard work pays off."

OP has won 19 of the last 20 Class A championships, including the last 16 in a row. Silver Creek has won the last two Class C titles. Silver Creek (7-0) took a 7-4 lead at halftime and was up, 10-8, after three quarters.

Senior Johnny Jimerson's highlight goal put the Black Knight's up, 12-10, with 5:12 minutes left. Jimerson dodged through the defense and, as he was falling to his knees, scored by shooting the ball through the OP goalie's legs.

"He scored as he was falling to the ground," said Brennan. "That was a huge goal."

After OP (9-3) scored to come within one, the Quakers were called for a 1-minute penalty with 2:06 left. Silver Creek possessed the ball, not only throughout the penalty but for the rest of the game. OP had its goalie out to challenge for possession, but "they just ran the ball and worked it around," said Brennan.

Silver Creek -- which won its 2009 C title without substituting for its 10 starters -- used just one substitution during the game, rotating different players in different positions throughout the field.

Jimerson had three goals. Sophomore Zeddie Williams also had three goals while brothers Zach Williams (a senior) had two and Sherman Williams (an eighth-grader) had two goals and two assists. Freshman goalie Connor Graves made 14 saves for Silver Creek, including a big one with about three minutes left.

Brennan cited Zach Williams and freshman Marvin Curry for winning the majority of the faceoffs.

"We've always got to credit Zach," Brennan said. "In field lacrosse if you control that ball, that's half the battle. Zach won a lot of faceoffs and our ninth-grader won three or four. Young guys like Marvin, Sherman and Connor, they played like seniors.

"And I always preach defense. Our defense is really picking up the system, playing unselfish help defense, basically jumping players. When attackmen are trying to dodge, our defensive guys are stepping up at the right time. Everyone on the team played well. It was a full team effort."

OP goalie Nick Owens had 17 saves, including, Brennan said, several big stops late in the contest.

"I want to [OP] coach Gene Tundo for the opportunity to come there and play such a great program," said Brennan. "I let the boys know, it's a nonleague game -- win or lose it doesn't help us in any standings or anything like that. But it gives us confidence when we go against teams in the playoffs and in the Far West Regionals -- if we get there."

* * * 

Definitely check out the story in Sunday's paper -- right on the front page of the sports section. 

* * * 

Sidenote/correction/my bad: I had the arithmetic wrong for OP's streak in my story on Tuesday, which was pointed out by JLG in Wednesday night's chat. Thanks to laxpower.com's excellent archive (here's 2005, with other seasons linked on the same page), I redid the numbers and got it right. My apologies.

---Keith McShea
(www.twitter.com/keithmcsheabn)

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

Robbins named Canisius High's new football coach

Another day, another big development in the Western New York high school football coaching world. 

Canisius has promoted Rich Robbins, who had been the school's defensive coordinator under departed coach Brandon Harris, to head coach.

Here is the complete press release issued by the school:

Rich Robbins has been named Head Coach of the Canisius High School varsity football program. Robbins, the 12th varsity coach in Crusader history, takes over the duties from Brandon Harris. Robbins’ hiring was announced by Jim Mauro, Director of Athletics.

A native of western Pennsylvania, Robbins spent one year on the Crusaders junior varsity staff and the last four years with the varsity.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to be the next Head Football Coach at Canisius High School,” Robbins said. “I truly feel blessed and would like to thank all of the people who have supported me throughout this process and appreciate the school’s confidence in my knowledge, experience, and leadership abilities, especially our Athletic Director Jim Mauro.”

Robbins was a four-sport athlete at North Allegany in high school, before moving on to Alfred University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and played football. An all-conference selection, Robbins was a two-year starter for the Saxons.

“I am very passionate about continuing the winning tradition here at Canisius, as well as focused on creating a balanced environment for our student-athletes to excel in,” stated Robbins. “One of the challenges I am looking forward to is advancing the strong football program that we have developed here over the last five years, as well as preparing these young men for the next stage of their life as an athlete, student, and citizen.”

During his four years with the varsity staff, Robbins primarily served as the team’s Defensive Coordinator. In addition, he worked with both the offensive and defensive lines. During his four years, the Crusaders have compiled a 26-15 overall record and won one Monsignor Martin championship.

“We are pleased to announce the appointment of Rich Robbins as our Head Football Coach,” Canisius President John Knight commented. “Rich is committed to the mission of the school and has the best interests of our students at heart. He has a strong knowledge of our school, and our football program and we are confident he will continue to move it in the right direction.”

* * *

Promoting from within makes sense to me -- particularly considering how Harris put his stamp on the program and the big-picture progress made under the former coach. While I'm sure coach Robbins will bring his own style and approach to the job, I'd have to think that there won't be too many adjustments philosophy-wise or structure-wise. We'll have to wait and see how things go results-wise.

Robbins is not only a guy who has been around (five years with program) but he's also much more of a local guy (Western Pennsylvania native, played at Alfred) than Harris -- who came in from Arizona. 

Should be quite an interesting fall with all of the coaching changes at programs used to being among the best in Western New York in Iroquois, North Tonawanda and Canisius. There's also Bishop Timon-St. Jude and I'm sure there will be some transitions at other programs before August rolls around.

---Keith McShea
(www.twitter.com/keithmcsheabn)

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

Stunner for Iroquois football: Payne steps down

After 11 seasons as head coach, and after helping build Iroquois into one of the best football programs in Western New York, Frank Payne has stepped down.

"I've enjoyed my time -- I was with the program 19 years and head coach the last 11, and one of my goals was to turn the program around," said Payne. "I think they had won around 19 games in 1990s, and I think we won about 72 games in the 2000s. We did a lot of great things. I think it's time for me to move on and pursue an new opportunity or two. I put everything in 24-7 and I'm looking to take a little break."

Payne notified school officials of his decision on Thursday and told the Chiefs players in a team meeting. As he walked down the hallway after the meeting, Payne said several surprised people stopped him and said, "you're kidding me, right?" 

"So I had to answer some questions, but you just know when it's time to make a change," he said. "It's tough to leave a program you've built, but but there's a time to move on and this is the time. It wasn't a rash decision."

Payne was 73-32, with Iroquois making the Section VI playoffs in 10 of his 11 years. The Chiefs made four trips to Ralph Wilson Stadium for the Section VI championships, winning two titles (2004, 2006) and advancing to the state semifinals in 2004.

Payne, who teaches physical education at Iroquois Intermediate School, said he will continue as head coach of the girls basketball team, a position he took on this past season. He said he would be coaching football somewhere in the fall, but most likely as an assistant and most likely at a high school. He said he had already been approached with some opportunities.

The responsibility of being the head coach of two varsity programs was part of Payne's decision. 

"I really enjoy working with the girls varsity program and there's a bright future there," he said. "Coaching two major sports back-to-back is doable, but I'm not sure I'd be able to give everything I could to both. One of my things is that whenever I do something, I want to do it right."

Payne's tenure as head coach also saw the community rally around the program, including the construction of lights at Milt Latimer Field.

"I want to thank all of the Iroquois community for their support," he said. "All the fan support is a big part of the program right now, thanks to the fans and all the former players and coaches. I want to thank them for all of their hard work. And Go Chiefs -- I know they're going to do well."

---Keith McShea
(www.twitter.com/keithmcsheabn)

Live chat May 4: Upsets in baseball & softball, weathering the weather, who's tops in lax, and a ton of Timon talk

We'll chat high school sports tonight at 9:45, and hopefully there will be something else to discuss besides a season saturated with bad weather. 

As always, anything in the world of high school sports -- or our coverage of it -- is up for discussion. 

I promise I'll get to your question or comment in the chat -- but please be patient. It can get busy fielding all of the questions and I can only answer one at a time. And PLEASE don't enter your question/comment multiple times -- that only makes things more hectic.

* * *  

* * *

Our first chat of the "spring" was on April 27.

Our April 13 chat focused largely on the All-Western New York basketball team.

Previous chats from this past winter season: April 6 (post Niagara PAL/ACE game), March 30 (post-Federation), March 23 (post-Final Four), March 16 (pre-Final Four), March 9 (pre-Far West Regionals), March 2 (after the Manhattan Cup and A-1 semifinals), Feb. 23 (prequarterfinal Wednesday), Feb. 17Feb. 9Feb. 2, Jan. 26, Jan. 19, Jan. 12, Jan. 5 (back from the break), Dec. 15 (from the Monsignor Martin-ECIC challenge), Dec. 9 (post-All-Western New York football discussion) and Dec.1.

You can check out the final live chat of the fall season -- as well as check out an archive of the 12 weekly discussions of the fall -- via our post of the Nov. 23 chat. For the super-chat-fan out there, this link takes you to the 2009-10 spring and winter archives.

As always, if you have a question but you won't be able to make the chat, post one in the comments section or email me and I'll do my best to address it.

---Keith McShea
(www.twitter.com/keithmcsheabn)

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

@KeithMcSheaBN | kmcshea@buffnews.com

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