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Live chat Aug. 31: Kicking off the season with football & soccer prognostication and more hilarity from Section V & Aquinas

The weekly Wednesday night chats return tonight, one night before our football season preview and two nights before the 2011-12 high school season really gets rolling.

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.

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Here's a review of our chats from last season:

Our previous chats from spring 2011: May 25 (the season finale), May 18May 11, May 4 and our first chat of the "spring" on April 27. Our April 13 chat focused largely on the All-Western New York basketball team.

Winter 2010-11: 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.

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

Live from Scrimmage Saturday: Seven stops and 24 teams (with 34 video highlights plus an episode of PrepTalkTV)

Cheektowaga and Eden line up on their first series with the Walden Galleria looming in the background. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

If it's the last Saturday of August, it must be Scrimmage Saturday, and we must be on our way to seeing as much football action as we can.

We'll be bopping around Western New York today -- as we have the last two years -- to catch as much football as we can in a limited time.

Disclaimer/explainer: Regular visitors to the blog know how much I love it when fans cite scrimmages as evidence for one team being better than another during the regular season, especially when it comes to the discussion of our polls. Just because I'm interested in all of the scrimmages (and getting to as many as I can), and learning about teams and players, they are still scrimmages. Once the season starts, I don't want to hear about them. :-)

If you're out and about like we are today, we want your reviews and breakdowns of what you saw. Keep it in context -- try and notice which first-team units are out there and what the teams are trying to do. Be sure to comment here our on our Facebook page, tweet us at @KeithMcSheaBN or send an email.

8:34 a.m. We are on our way. I met up with photographer Mark Mulville at One News Plaza and we're headed to Cheektowaga for our kickoff.

Eden, Springville, Tonawanda and West Seneca East are visiting Cheektowaga. We're planning a quick stop before heading nearby to Cleveland Hill. 

9:22 a.m. Great start to the day for us -- and for Eden. The Raiders, known for their ground-and-pound-and win formula, threw for two touchdowns against Cheektowaga -- including one on the first play of the scrimmage! -- and added in another touchdown as we were leaving. 

We were on hand for some warmups before things got started, with Tonawanda coach Rob Gross asking his team, quite loudly, "What's this half-speed!? Why are we doing anything half speed?!"

After a fairly lenghty prepractice address by the officials, we got started as the head referee said, "Rock and roll, Scott," to Cheektowaga coach Scott Zipp.

And early misstep by Cheektowaga against Eden prompted a "Do your job!" admonition from an assistant coach to a player.

On the other half of the field, West Seneca East scored a TD against Tonawanda. 

And let's go to the video:

Above is our first play of our season as West Seneca East got things off and running against Tonawanda. 

Talk about a great start for Eden. This is their first play as their offense went against Cheektowaga. 

A nice run for Eden.

9:30 a.m. Just about to pull in to Cleveland Hill. (Reminder for any hey-buddy-keep-your-hands-on-the-wheel fans: Mulville is driving).

9:37 a.m. iPhone update from Cleve Hill, where they haven't started due to Silver Creek being late. This may screw up some of our travel plans. We'll see.

9:48 a.m. Official addresses teams: "Next week it starts for real, today's for fun."

10:24 a.m. Back in Mulville's Honda heading north to Lockport. It's a super bummer that Cleve Hill was behind because we're a half hour off the ideal schedule I had set up for the day. That's alright. Every game (and every assignment) isn't going to go as planned and you've got to make those key adjustments, right? 

On the bright side, we saw the first-stringers for all four teams at Cleve Hill. The defenses ruled the first round as a fired-up Silver Creek unit bottled up Burgard and the Cleve Hill defense kept Cardinal O'Hara out of the end zone. 

Daryl Spencer had a nice sack for a big loss for Cleve Hill on defense, then looked very good with some rollout completions on offense. Zeddie Williams, who should be the feature back after the graduation of older brother Zach, looked solid out of the backfield for Silver Creek. Burgard also had some very solid run stops. 

Here are the top videos from Cleve Hill:

10:36 a.m. It's a long trip to Lockport. We're just on to Transit from Millersport & the I-990. Six top programs in action up at Emmet Belknap Intermediate: St. Francis, Sweet Home, North Tonawanda, Williamsville South, Grand Island and the host Lions. 

Trying to plot out a backup plan -- a main stop for us is Orchard Park, which is hosting Canisius in a scrimmage that started at 10.

11:02 a.m. Got to Lockport in time to catch the tail end of Jordan Johnson of Sweet Home leading the offense against Will South. Johnson and Sweet Home looked to be moving the ball fairly effectively -- he had a touchdown pass to the far left side of the field called back on a penalty. We didn't see a ton of Sweet Home against Will South but we saw a few more plays against Lockport. 

Williamsville South and Grand Island were paired up on the other end and there were some hard hits, including a busted play for South that almost resulted in a hit on coach Kraig Kurzanski, who was in the customary coaches' spot behind the huddle. 

St. Francis finished strong on defense against Grand Island and then paired up with North Tonawanda. I caught the second half of that pairing, with NT making some nice stops on defense. 

Here's our best video from Lockport:

11:31 a.m. We're on the road again, heading south and hoping to fit in a stop at Riverside but that might not be a great decision with OP are key final stop. 

11:37 a.m. Just talked to PrepTalkTV partner Lauren Mariacher at Canisius. The first-stringers are done there -- she has video and interviews from there so I might not go down there. I think we'll head to Riverside.

11:40 a.m. Just checked in with Lauren again. Canisius and OP will be on the field for another hour, so Mark and I are going to squeeze in a visit to Riverside, which is hosting McKinley, Bishop Timon-St. Jude and Maple Grove.

Even if we stay just a few moments, we'll be able to get some video, photos and some looks at the teams. Right now we've seen 14 teams in three stops.

With Scrimmage Saturday, it's certainly about quantity, not quality.

11:54 a.m. And JUST when we think we've come up with a great plan, we pull into the Riverside parking lot and pass a kid wearing orange-and-black carrying his shoulder pads out. 

"That's not a good sign," says Mark. 

It wasn't. The Riverside field was empty.

The kid was from McKinley. Arghhhhhhh.

If I wrote what I'm feeling right now, I'd get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Maybe two.

Off to OP. Arrrrrrgh. Sigh.

1 p.m. We caught the very end of the Canisius scrimmage at Orchard Park, did some interviews and filmed an intro for PrepTalkTV. Lauren Mariacher is working on that and it'll be posted later today. 

I'm headed back to One News Plaza to get some more videos and details posted before heading out to evening scrimmages at Iroquois and Amherst. 

More updates to come ...

3:02 p.m. Here is the finished PrepTalkTV product (now starring on the buffalonews.com home page):

3:49 p.m. I've posted a bunch of video here, and I'll have more to come from the six-team Lockport scrimmage as well as some from my next two stops -- Iroquois and Amherst.

4:26 p.m. Hello from the awesome back field setting at Iroquois.

Iroquois' practice field is way behind the school. And I mean wayyyy behind.

5:40 p.m. Note to football coaches and athletic directors. If you want Prep Talk hanging out at your scrimmage for a long time, have it at night :-).

Got a good long look -- along with the Prep Talk blog's "Milt Latimer" -- at Lackawanna, Frontier, Iroquois and Niagara-Wheatfield, seeing all of their first-strings go at in in their second go-round of '1's.

Lackawanna was very impressive with Keith Taggart leading the way not only at running back but on defense. Some big hits there.

Niagara-Wheatfield sure looked the part, sporting uniforms which looked ready for gameday, right down to every player's pulled-up red calf socks with a black Falcon logo on them. Coming off a winless season and with a new coach in Tim Hagerty, the program looks like it has a little spark. The sideline was extremely into the final offensive session against Iroquois in the first go-round.

Iroquois and Frontier both had good spurts in their session against each other, some nice run stuffs and scoring drives. Frontier got a spark on its offensive series after it made a change at quarterback.

It looked like a productive scrimmage for all four teams.

Here are the video highlights, which were included the best stuff I saw all day:

With six stops and 20 teams seen, now I'm off to Amherst for the final stop of the day.

6:25 p.m. Arrived at Amherst, which is hosting West Seneca West, Kenmore East and Hutch-Tech.

7:09 p.m. Saw some nice play at Amherst's Dimp Wagner Alumni Field, where it appeared that the hosts were the top unit -- not too surprising based on last season and the Tigers' returning experienced players, but certainly impressive nonetheless. Amherst is very fast, and they showed it off on both sides of the ball against a West Seneca West unit that made a few unforced errors, including some turnovers on offense. The Tigers had one player sprint from the backside to chase down a run, and also sped to big gains off of short passes.

Hutch-Tech had some nice run stops and moved the ball better than Kenmore East did in their two series.

The highlights:

And check this out -- I call it a day and walk off the field, and as I walk out of the gate, I run into Tonawanda coach Rob Gross. He was the first coach I saw this morning, and the last coach I see as I leave. Can't make this stuff up.

I think that gives us a very strong finish to our Scrimmage Saturday -- looks like we're ready to go for next weekend.

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Also check out a photo gallery by Mulville.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

buffalonews.com/highschool     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

PrepTalkTV: Preseason interviews with Niagara Falls, Hutch-Tech, W. Seneca East, JFK, Fredonia, Pioneer and Gowanda

PrepTalkTV photographer/videographers John Hickey and Mark Mulville caught up with some more football coaches during their preseason travels.

Check out what they had to say about their teams and divisions below.

Also check out previous posts loaded with videos:

* Olean, Salamanca, Allegany-Limestone, Cassadaga Valley, Cattaraugus/Little Valley, Maple Grove, Portville, Clymer.

* St. Francis, Burgard, Sweet Home, Hamburg, Wilson, South Park and St. Mary's.

* Lancaster, Cheektowaga, Cleveland Hill, Amherst, Maryvale and Lake Shore.

* Our first PrepTalkTV episode of the season from Clarence, Iroquois and St. Joe's.

* Or browse through the videos by clicking "PrepTalkTV" on our video player page.

Niagara Falls coach Don Bass (Class AA North):


Hutch-Tech coach Chris Gelsomino (Class AA North):


West Seneca East coach Jim Maurino (Class A South):


Pioneer coach Jim Duprey (Class B South):


Fredonia coach Bob Ball (Class C South):


JFK coach Mark Ostempowski (Class C South):


Gowanda coach Sean Gabel (Class C North):


Be sure to check back to the PrepTalk blog for more videos as we continue to gear up for the 2011 season.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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

Lineup for Scrimmage Saturday 2011

Football teams finish their first week of practice today, and a week from now they'll be able to line up against some other teams.

Here's the lineup of for Scrimmage Saturday (Aug. 27) that we've compiled via emails from coaches and some school sites:

Grand Island, North Tonawanda, St. Francis, Sweet Home, Williamsville South and Lockport at Lockport's Emmet Belknap Intermediate School, 9 a.m.
Eden, Springville, Tonawanda and West Seneca East at Cheektowaga, 9 a.m.
Williamsville North, Kenmore West and Starpoint at Clarence, 9 a.m.
Burgard, Cardinal O'Hara and Silver Creek at Cleveland Hill, 9 a.m.
V-Batavia at Albion, 9 a.m.
Randolph at Southwestern, 9 a.m.
Lancaster at V-Webster-Schroeder, 9 a.m.
Wilson at Medina, 9:30 a.m.
TBA at Frewsburg, 9:30 a.m.
TBA at Portville, 9:30 a.m.
Pine Valley at Westfield, 9:30 a.m.
Panama at Forestville, 10 a.m.
Canisius at Orchard Park, 10 a.m.
St. Joe's at Cathedral Prep (Erie, Pa), TBA
Bennett, Niagara Falls, South Park and Williamsville East at Depew, 10 a.m.
Bishop Timon-St. Jude, Maple Grove and McKinley at Riverside, 10 a.m.
East Aurora, Fredonia, Hamburg and Jamestown at Jamestown's Strider Field, 10 a.m.
Chautauqua Lake, Clymer and Lafayette at Cassadaga Valley, 10 a.m.
Niagara Catholic and V-Charles Finney at Nichols, 10 a.m.
Alden at V-Attica, 10 a.m.
V-Hornell at Olean, 10 a.m.
Pioneer at Salamanca at Salamanca's Veteran's Park, 10 a.m.
East and I-Prep/Grover at Johnnie B. Wiley Stadium, 10 a.m.
Lake Shore, St. Mary's and Dunkirk at Maryvale, 10 a.m.
JFK and V-Perry at V-Pembroke, TBA
Frontier, Lackawanna, Niagara-Wheatfield at Iroquois, 4 p.m.
Hutch-Tech, Kenmore East, West Seneca West at Amherst, 5 p.m.

If you have scrimmages or details to add, email them to me at kmcshea@buffnews.com or tweet to @KeithMcSheaBN and I'll update the list as soon as I can.

We'll be bopping around Western New York on Scrimmage Saturday -- as we have the last two years -- to catch as much football as we can in a limited time.

Disclaimer/explainer: Regular visitors to the blog know how much I love it when fans cite scrimmages as evidence for one team being better than another during the regular season, especially when it comes to the discussion of our polls. Just because I'm interested in all of the scrimmages (and getting to as many as I can), and learning about teams and players, they are still scrimmages. Once the season starts, I don't want to hear about them. :-) 

But on Saturday, we want your reviews and breakdowns of what you saw. Keep it in context -- try and notice which first-team units are out there and what the teams are trying to do. Be sure to comment here, tweet us or send an email.

---Keith McShea

buffalonews.com/highschool     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

Countdown to Friday Night Lights begins Saturday; football preview is Sept. 1

Our Countdown to Friday Night Lights is back this year, and we're packing more info into a longer countdown.

Starting with Saturday's paper, we'll take a look at a different division every day until our high school football preview issue on Sept. 1.

The countdown will include a quick review of last year, how the division might look different and a overview of what's in store this season.

Here's the lineup:

Saturday, Aug. 20: Class DD
Sunday, Aug. 21: Class D
Monday, Aug. 22: C South
Tuesday, Aug. 23: C North
Wednesday, Aug. 24: B South
Thursday, Aug. 25: B East
Friday, Aug. 26: B West
Saturday, Aug. 27: A South
Sunday, Aug. 28: A North
Monday, Aug. 29: AA South
Tuesday, Aug. 30: AA North
Wednesday, Aug. 31: Monsignor Martin

The football preview on Sept. 1 will again include divisional breakdowns of each team, including team-by-team schedules, along with a great cover, feature stories and much more. 

You can check out last year's countdown here -- it was shorter (six days) as we looked at the five Section VI classes and the MMA.

Also worth marking on your calendar: The first Scholastic Spotlight of the year will be published Tuesday, Sept. 6.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

buffalonews.com/highschools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

St. Joe's QB Kelly back on ESPN tonight

St. Joe's quarterback Chad Kelly is back on ESPN tonight.

The network's line of programming titled "Year of the Quarterback," complete with its own home page (Kelly is again featured on that page's main photo; he's prominently featured as the fourth QB from the right side).

The program is about the Elite 11 -- a skills competition among high school quarterbacks. Last week's episode focused on the regional round; tonight's 7 p.m. broadcast focuses on the final 24-quarterback competition in Malibu, Calif. Kelly, a rising senior who has verbally committed to Clemson and is the nephew of Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly, did pretty well.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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

Prep Talk blog's Milt Latimer breaks down 2011 football

If you are a football fan who is a regular visitor of the Prep Talk blog, you undoubtedly know the name of Milt Latimer, the very active contributor who is a huge fan of high school football (and one Chiefs team in particular) :-). 

Here's his take on the 2011 season: 

A look at the various classes and how they they shape up.

CLASS AA

Orchard Park looks to regain the title after a two year hiatus. They’ll feature dynamic offensive weapons in RB Okoya Anderson and WR Ben Johnson. Quakers also will have a good line with T Mike Senn and G Austin Bauer, who also provides a great kicking game.

Clarence is a program that is moving in the right direction and hope to repeat with huge RB Mike Gelz and Trench candidate Mike Arcuri. Replacing QB Zach Lauricella and LB Anthony Principale provide some question marks for the Red Devils.

The team to watch in the North Division is Kenmore West, who return their backfield in QB Marcus Lobdell, RB Martin Bailey, and RB Nick Hersey.

Teams that could surprise are Jamestown, with bookend Tackles in John Czech and Cortland Haines, and Frontier who have QB Jimmy May back. Riverside should provide a test with QB Jeremiah Cormack and Back D’Yontae Parker. Lancaster is always a tough test, and will rely on QB Ryan Radtke, but must get solid play from an inexperienced line.

Predicted order of finish: South (OP, Clarence, Jamestown, Lancaster, Frontier, WSW), North (Ken West, Riverside, Lockport, Niagara Falls, Niagara-Wheatfield, Hutch-Tech).

Continue reading "Prep Talk blog's Milt Latimer breaks down 2011 football" »

Sportsy story in today's Back to School section

Today's Back to School section includes a sportsy story I wrote about 10 things to keep in mind as we head into the school sports year.

It's only two weeks and a day until the football season kicks off.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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

PrepTalkTV: Preseason interviews with nine Southern Tier football coaches

PrepTalkTV photographer/videographer Mark Mulville caught up with several Southern Tier coaches at a Section VI preseason meeting.

Check out what they had to say about their teams and divisions below.

Also check out previous posts loaded with videos:

* St. Francis, Burgard, Sweet Home, Hamburg, Wilson, South Park and St. Mary's.

* Lancaster, Cheektowaga, Cleveland Hill, Amherst, Maryvale and Lake Shore.

* Our first PrepTalkTV episode of the season from Clarence, Iroquois and St. Joe's.

* Or browse through the videos by clicking "PrepTalkTV" on our video player page.

Olean coach Mike Kane (Class B South):


Salamanca coach Jason Marsh (Class C South):


Allegany-Limestone coach Chad Lyter (Class C South):


Cassadaga Valley coach Nick Spitzer (Class C South):


Cattaraugus/Little Valley coach Tim Miller (Class C South):


Maple Grove coach Curt Fischer (Class D):


Portville coach Gary Swetland (Class D):

(Our apologies for the incorrect screen graphic - this is really Swetland).


Pine Valley coach Chris Buczek (Class DD)

(Our apologies for the incorrect screen graphic - this is really Buczek).


Clymer coach Mark Heiser (Class DD)


Be sure to check back to the PrepTalk blog for more videos as we continue to gear up for the 2011 season.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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

Steelers keep it in the family with new coach Tardif

One magical season and Adam Tardif knew his destiny.

The Lackawanna coach, whose first day on the job was Monday, was introduced to coaching in an enviable way, as a volunteer assistant for the Steelers under coach Bill Moore in 1998. Talk about perfect timing.

The bright-eyed assistant had a sideline view as the Steelers went 13-0 capturing a second consecutive New York State Class B title.

Fast forward 13 years and the Lackawanna program is his.

Experiencing that 1998 season is something Tardif has drawn from during his last four years as Lackawanna's defensive coordinator and six years prior with the junior varsity.

"That's one of the reasons I'm coaching is that was such a great year," said Tardif. "Being around such a talented high school football team Ñ we had guys at every position. We won in overtime at Springville. We won using a fake punt against Harrison. There was something about that season."

State titles are tough to come by, but Tardif is prepared to do what it takes to carry on Steeler tradition.

"With any new endeavor you never know how the kids are going to respond to you as the head coach," he said. "But the staff has stuck together over the years and it all seems pretty normal. But you never know who's going to be there and what's going to happen."

---Mary Jo Monnin

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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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