I've been looking forward to Friday's boys lacrosse matchup between Orchard Park and Bishop Timon-St. Jude since before the spring season, and I know I'm not the only one.
Bad news just in from Timon coach Mike Burke: It's just a scrimmage.
Why? Timon scheduled too many games. The state limit for Catholic schools is 18 and the Tigers have already reached that total.
On the team's schedule as reported to laxpower.com, Timon is 16-3. Coach Mike Burke said that Timon's game with Kiski Prep (Pa.) was played as a scrimmage and will not count towards the team total.
Burke said he was unaware of the limit until he was told by league chairman Tom Franz, who is the Nichols coach, following TImon's 11-9 home win over the Vikings Wednesday evening. Burke consulted with Timon administrators, including athletic director Jim Palano, and learned that the Timon-OP game would have to be a scrimmage.
"It's disappointing because this is a game that all of our kids look forward to, because Orchard Park is the top dog," said Burke. "I know that they're disappointed, too.
"We overlooked the rule regarding how many games you could have. We probably need to be more selective with who we play -- maybe we didn't need to play Aquinas [of Section V] twice. I talked to [OP] coach [Gene] Tundo. He sounded disappointed but he was as accomodating as he could be."
The teams will still play Friday evening, but with a running clock for 15-minute quarters and no official score kept on the field.
"With the playoffs coming up, it's still good to get another quality opponent to prepare us, so something is better than nothing," Burke said. "We're going to be playing it as hard as possible, and I know they are too."
Timon has several games scheduled against private schools in Detroit this weekend; Burke said those will also be played as scrimmages and were always scheduled as such. Burke also said that in previous years, Timon's game against Ontario's Hill Academy was treated as a scrimmage.
"We did a couple of things different and it really screwed it up," said Burke. "We just have to be more selective with who we play."
Coach Burke has played perhaps the most impressive nonleague schedules in Western New York over the last five or six years. I credit him for seeking out top competition that has included outstanding programs both from within New York and out of the state (and out of the country). His scheduling is one of the major reasons that Timon has become one of Western New York's elite program.
But (and this is a big but) to schedule too many contests is a hugely critical error on behalf of Burke and the school. To have an outstanding game like Timon-OP wiped out because of too many games being played is inexcusable. It's a simple matter which could have been avoided. It's also something that almost never happens in other sports.
The bottom line is that arguably the best regular-season matchup between Western New York boys lacrosse teams has been lost for the players, programs, fans and yes, the media. A matchup like this attracts attention and deserves attention. It is one that would not have only benefitted the teams involved, but would have benefitted the sport in Western New York in general.
Instead, we won't be there. Because it's just a scrimmage.
taggedBishop Timon-St. Jude | Lacrosse | Orchard Park