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PrepTalkTV's Fourth Day of Christmas: 12th Man Loud and Proud in 2011

It's The Four Days of Football Christmas at Prep Talk!

On the fourth and final day of Christmas PrepTalkTV gives to you:

12th MAN LOUD AND PROUD IN 2011:

The Western New York football faithful was at its best this year in the stands and along the fences at fields every weekend. One of Prep Talk's favorite 12th man moments of the season was when the Williamsville South band took the field during halftime of the Amherst at South game and put on a performance that had just about the entire crowd on their feet. See the band's performance and check out all of our 12th man highlights of the year here:

Click here to see the First Day of Football Christmas: Best Hits of 2011, here for the Second Day of Football Christmas: 2011 Touchdown Montage, and here for the Third Day of Football Christmas: Greatest Grabs of 2011.

--Lauren Mariacher

PrepTalkTV's Third Day of Christmas: Greatest Grabs of 2011

It's The Four Days of Football Christmas at Prep Talk!

On the third day of Christmas PrepTalkTV gives to you:

GREATEST GRABS OF 2011:

Receptions and interceptions, one-handed snags and diving grabs, they're all here:

Click here to see the First Day of Football Christmas: Best Hits of 2011 and here for the Second Day of Football Christmas: 2011 Touchdown Montage.

--Lauren Mariacher

PrepTalkTV's Second Day of Christmas: 2011 Touchdown Montage

It's The Four Days of Football Christmas at Prep Talk!

On the second day of Christmas PrepTalkTV gives to you:

2011 TOUCHDOWN MONTAGE

There were so many PrepTalkTV touchdown highlights to go through that I decided an eight minute highlight video was necessary. The touchdown highlights aren't in any specific order and were captured in games from just about every week of the season. Enjoy!

Click here to see the First Day of Football Christmas.

--Lauren Mariacher

Live from Niagara Falls' rout at Kenmore West

Hello from an early clash in the Niagara Frontier League.

This will be the final live coverage this calendar year. Happy Holidays to all.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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

PrepTalkTV's First Day of Christmas: Best Hits of 2011

Here at The Buffalo News the Prep Talk team has decided to spread the holiday spirit with a little gift to our Prep Talk faithful. We're calling it, "The Four Days of Football Christmas."

On the first day of Christmas PrepTalkTV gives to you:

BEST HITS OF 2011

Many of these hits could've been chosen by sound alone. Some of them happened behind the line of scrimmage, some after big gains. A lot of these highlights are accompanied by "Woah!" "Ooo!" or "Ouch!" coming from spectators on the sidelines.

--Lauren Mariacher

How The News voted: Week Two

Every week during the basketball season (except a two-week vacation over the holiday break which we're entering now) a panel of voters participates in The News' large and small school boys basketball polls. 

And every week we let you know, like the title says ... how The News voted.

Here is a link to last week's tipoff ballot.

Here's this week's polls, and here's our ballot:

LARGE SCHOOLS

1. Canisius (3-2) [last week on this ballot: 1] -- The Canisius-or-Falls discussion for this spot should be a good one throughout the season, good arguments to be made both ways, but confirming my choice was Canisius nearly digging out of a hole against vaunted Aquinas (cutting double-digit lead to five in final minute, and I think Aquinas is better than Kearney, and Falls lost to Kearney) -- with Matt Hart out of the lineup.

2. Niagara Falls (2-1) [2] -- I'm not saying Grand Island is a world-beater, but it was 2-1 with a six-point loss to a good Wilson squad. Falls' quarters at GI on Friday 12-5, 16-4, 23-7, 20-8 for a 71-24 win. Whoa.

3. Jamestown (3-0) [4] -- Solid win over Will South to win own tourney. You can depend on Jamestown. Which is why I moved them past ...

4. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (4-2) [3] -- ... the Tigers, who nearly somehow let Will South allllll the way back in their game at the Monsignor Martin-ECIC Challenge. Timon went to Florida the last few days. I wonder if they ran into the Heatmeiser.  

5. Riverside (3-1) [5] -- No change here. Was tempted to move up the ...

6. St. Joe's (4-1) [6] -- ... Marauders, who continue to get outstanding games from Reggie Agbeko. They just aren't as consistent as I (or I'm sure they) would like. Take the Sweet Home game: Fine first half for Reggie and the team; second half, different story and the Panthers almost came alllll the way back.  

7. McKinley (2-1) [7] -- No movement from the idle Macks.

8. Kenmore West (1-1) [8] -- Showed some flashes against Canisius, particularly via Bailey, which portends that that they'll be just fine when they aren't playing No. 1. What about No. 2? Find out tonight when West hosts Falls at 7.

9. Williamsville South (4-2) [NR] -- Billies were just on the bubble in the mythical No. 11 spot.   

10. Hutch-Tech (1-0) [9] -- They are getting good poll value for that one win :-) 

SMALL SCHOOLS

1. Olean (4-1) [2] -- Seeing is believing after the win at St. Mary's. It's going to be a fun three seasons.

2. St. Mary's (5-2) [1] -- Participating in some solid tourneys, at Akron today and at Depew after Christmas. Monsignor Martin schedule should be a blast.

3. OTC Middle College (1-1) [3] -- No games. Open season with Canisius, hosted St. Joe's Monday night. 

4. MST Seneca (3-0) [4] -- Up goes Frasier.  

5. Archbishop Walsh (5-0) [NR] -- Wanted to vote for them last week, but there was no room at the inn (not a bad situation to be in this time of the year). Deserve to be this high after that nice win over Lackawanna.

6. East (0-3) [5] -- Not just 0-3, but by 22 to Timon, 29 to Olean, 33 to Aquinas. And on Thursday? at St. Joe's?

7. Depew (2-1) [6] -- Wildcats play tonight vs. Amherst in ECIC III opener -- that's large vs. small this year.

8. Tonawanda (5-0) [8] -- Many voters have them higher, but squeaking out a win over Roy-Hart Monday might be backing up my decision to keep them down in these parts.

9. Maple Grove (1-3) [9] -- Losses to Olean and Batavia and a split with Randolph, the second half a 20-point win at home. We see a definite lead in Southern Tier schools with the ones in this poll ahead of solid squads like Silver Creek and Panama.

10. Lackawanna (1-2) [7] -- Keeping them hanging on based on the Finney win and we think Walsh is quite good.

Don't like what you're reading? The comment space is below.

---Keith McShea

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

Holland wrestling coach confident in helping her (yes, her) team succeed

Susan Grieser is in her second season taking over the struggling program at Holland. She is the first female head wrestling coach in Section VI history.

She has two male volunteer assistants, which she said make her job a lot easier.

"The other coaches have treated me as if I belonged, many have seen me in youth wrestling, or following my son over the years," she said.

"Holland is a small school so the boys already know me, and know of my passion for wrestling. Holland wrestled against Springville for the years my son was there so they saw me at those matches. The boys understand I will do everything I can to see them succeed on the mat, as well as succeed in school."

Last year's team won two dual meets, all but one wrestler won a match and two wrestlers qualified for sectionals. Those two wrestlers return as seniors, Axl Jakubowski at 152 and Richie Evans at 160, who have both moved up this year. The team's dual meet win over East Aurora was the program's first over EA in 18 years.

---Mary Jo Monnin

Aquinas moving to avoid Kearney? "Pfffffttt!" say the Little Irish, after a Grade AA performance

After Saturday afternoon's Western New York High School Football banquet, I checked out Rochester private school power Aquinas's visit to Canisius

It was a great matchup, of course, between two teams that are considered by many (including this guy) as the best teams from the Buffalo and Rochester areas. What I saw in Aquinas was a very, very good team that beat Canisius -- but more on that later. 

I also figured I'd ask -- since they were in town -- how it was that they ended up in Class AA this year. Aquinas won Class A in Section V (Rochester area) last season, and beat Buffalo's East to advance to the state final four. 

Aquinas returns key components from that team -- namely 6-foot-7 senior forward and Canisius College recruit Phil Valenti and senior point guard and Monmouth College recruit Christian White. So they certainly would appear to have the pedigree for Class AA.

But more than one person (again, this guy included), have wondered alound about how convenient it was that this season -- one in which Bishop Kearney (also in Section V's A) will also be a major force (the Knights have already beaten Niagara Falls and Long Island power St. Mary's) -- was the one that Aquinas decided to move up to AA.

Aquinas' response? To paraphrase: "Pffffffft!" :-)

"People saying we're trying to avoid Kearney are wrong," said Aquinas coach Mike Grosodonia. 

"They're a very good team, and they almost had to move up, too. They fought to stay down, so you can go both ways with it." 

Just for the record: Aquinas has beaten Kearney six times in a row -- which doesn't exactly make them the team the Irish would like to avoid. And they are playing twice in the regular season. But come playoff time, Aquinas will be in AA, Kearney in A.

"Obviously our public school didn't want us there [in AA], let alone even in the section. But we wanted to be in the highest one. For us, we had won A and we had a shot to win states, and we came up short. We just thought we wanted to play the best class, with the best teams, and our kids wanted it. They wanted to play the AA schools. We still play Bishop Kearney twice, we play Canisius, the teams we really want to play to get better. It was more of our kids wanted to go and play in AA and give it a shot there."

Said Valenti: "It's a better challenge for us. We play Bishop Kearney twice this year, we played them three times last year -- it has nothing to do with Kearney. There are better teams in the section [in AA]. It doesn' t matter who we play, there is going to be a great team in the crossover [Section V's AA final]."

Sounds good to me. I hereby apologize for wondering aloud about Aquinas' intentions. The important thing is that arguably the strongest team in the section overall is playing in Class AA, where it should be playing.

Kearney should be there as well, especially with the influx of talent in recent seasons. Kearney might say it is playing "up" in Class A because it has normally been in Class B. False. A private school located in the city the size of Rochester playing in Class B is a joke, but that's where we have seen Kearney show up quite a bit in the Far West Regionals.

When Aquinas' move to AA was announced during the fall, it prompted me to write something I've espoused in live chats and blogs for years: that Aquinas football, which is inarguably one of the best football programs in New York State and has been for about a decade (at least), should be playing in Class AA (it has played in Class A for all of that aforementioned decade). 

And now, some of you out there might be thinking: "Isn't this guy a little obsessed with Aquinas?" Not the case. Aquinas is just a lightning rod for something I am certainly obsessed with: Seeing the state tournament be run as fairly and as equitably as it should be. When teams aren't classified correctly, it warps the entire thing.

* * * 

And now, back to the game.

Aquinas is talented. And they are mean. I got to the game in the second half, and that's what I saw: a team that wasn't just good but played with a serious edge. It sure sounded like Aquinas used that edge to take control of the game from the start.

"They walked into our building, kind of punched us in the mouth, and it took us unfortunately 10 to 12 minutes to realize that we just got hit and to kind of fight back a little bit," said Canisius coach Kyle Husband. "Toughness and energy -- those things go a long way in this game. They had way more of it than we did. Phil and Christian are just, they're not only really good players, but they're physical and they've got attitude, and those things mean something."

It sure looked that way to me. White runs the team, has a great shot, a great handle and is tenacious on defense. When going upcourt with the ball or driving the lane, he has what seems to be a bull-in-a-china-shop appraoch: he's almost willingly looking for defenders trying to get in his way, initiating contact and using his positioning (including some savvy positioning of his off-arm) to power his way downcourt or to the basket.

Down low, Valenti got rebound after rebound while he also displayed some range. He also plays with great energy and intensity, and sometimes he goes too far. He certainly did in the third quarter, after he followed what was an outstanding follow while being fouled with a clear, full-throat, in-your-face yelling taunt at a defender. He was called for a technical and he should have been. After he nailed a three in the fourth quarter gave Aquinas an 18-point lead, his fired-up celebration, complete with a big smile and what seemed like a laugh, bordered on mocking the opposition. But it's not like that's never been done before. 

That's fine. Aquinas is good. They play with an edge. You want to beat these guys? You've got to play smart, physical, intense, team basketball just like the Little Irish.   

"That's what we're about," Valenti said after I asked him about how the team plays with an edge. "Being tough, not backing down from anyone."

* * * 

And now, for one of the strangest things I've seen at a scorer's table: 

In the fourth quarter, a foul was called on (I'm pretty sure) 6-6 junior Jake Cercone. The scoreboard said it was his fifth foul. The Canisius scorekeeper (an adult) said that was wrong, that it was the fourth foul. The students running the table, who had thought it was the fifth and thought it might be time to sound the horn for a disqualification, did not. The Aquinas scorekeeper (an adult) started yelling, the Canisius scorekeeper said it was the fourth foul, the students running the table said the scoreboard was a mistake, and play resumed. Then the Aquinas scorekeeper jumped out of his seat, continued to yell, alerted the Aquinas coaches, and then the officials stopped the game.

An official came over to the scorer's table, asked what was up, they looked to the home scorebook, which is the official book, he had four fouls, and that was that. For the record, Cercone wasn't in the game that much, and I would have been surprised if he had five fouls. 

Scorekeepers are supposed to work together in a situation like that -- especially adults. Even if there is an important discrepancy, they are supposed to work together, not jump up and down like the place is on fire. It's just bad form. 

And it also encourages something yelled a few moments later from one of the Aquinas adult fans: "Hey, why don't you put 10 minutes back on the clock, too?!?!?!" (Hilarious.). There were quite a few Aquinas fans there -- they travel well, and let's just say that they play with an edge too :-).  

* * * 

And now, for the classless move of the month:

[I swear I am not picking on Aquinas or its fans. I have the utmost respect for the athletic program and I certainly admit to having problems with where they are classified. But this stuff happened at the game, and I would have written about both of these last two items if they involved a local team.]

At the end of the game, the Canisius student who was doing the PA from the scorer's table, closed out the afternoon of basketball (the teams' freshmen and JV teams also played) by recalling those results and then he added that, in the varsity game, something to the effect of that the Crusaders had lost but it was a "fine effort by Canisius."

And adult male fan from Aquinas, who was making his way out of the bleachers, followed that up right away with, audible to anyone within earshot, an adolescent, mocking retort of: "Well, it wasn't good enough."

And a Merry Christmas to you, too, Mr. Scrooge. :-)

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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

Another fine WNY High School Football banquet, which turned 25 -- thanks to Dick Gallagher

Top seniors 'pass the torch' to top juniors. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

The unofficial conclusion of the football season was this afternoon at the 25th annual Western New York High School Football banquet at Classics in Niagara Falls. 

As he has done for a quarter century, Dick Gallagher organized the event, which honored more than a hundred of this season's top players. It was a great event, as always.

In addition to the presentation of trophies and plaques to the All-Western New York team, the Buffalo News Player of the Year, the News poll winners, the All-WNY academic football team and multiple league and postseason MVPs, here is a rundown of some of the top honors:

Andrea Marsh -- yes, she's a she -- was honored with the Day-Day Morris Award for courage after a standout season as a starting defensive back for Panama. Marsh is a national finalist for the Rudy Award

Joseph Smith of St. Francis won the WNY Football Scholar-Athlete Award

Jim Dombrowski Award (offensive linemen): Devon Leach, Orchard Park; Michael Senn, Orchard Park.

Jim Burt Award (defensive lineman): Cortland Haines, Jamestown.

Ron Jaworski Award (quarterback): Chad Kelly, St. Joe's.

Ron Pitts Award (defensive back): Jordan Johnson, Sweet Home.

Shane Conlan Award (linebacker): James Fitzgerald, Orchard Park.

James Lofton Award (wide reciever): Ben Johnson, Orchard Park; Jordan Williams, Bishop Timon-St. Jude.

Jim Kelly Football Camp Underclassmen of the Year: Nigel Davis, St. Joe's (offense); Alec Dietsch, Clarence (defense). 

Joe Foyle Award (large school coaches of the year): John Faller, Sweet Home; Jerry Smith, St. Francis; Gene Tundo, Orchard Park. 

Gene Masters Award (small school coaches of the year): Dick Diminuco, Alden; Curt Fischer, Maple Grove; Jay Sirianni, Southwestern; Dan Greco, Chautauqua Lake.

Frank Constantino Award (JV coach of the year): Mike Morlock, Frontier.

Stan Barron Award (media): Rich Kozak, Intense Milks Game of the Week on WJJL-AM.

Mike Perry Memorial Award (referees): Skip Brechtel, Ken Harris.

Jerry Butler Award: Maurice Howie, South Park; Ryan Radke, Lancaster.

Andy Benson Award: Ben Whitney, Jamestown.

Tim Schwab Memorial Award: Mike Prevorse, Pioneer. 

Unsung players: Justin Davis, Bennett); Ben Holmes, Orchard Park; Jordan Sanders, St. Joe's; Brian Stoldt, Alden; Cody Stumpf, Williamsville South. 

Dick Gallagher accepts a surprise award for 25 years of running the banquet. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)Cross-Training Award: Josh Koester, Hutch-Tech (city); Terrance DeJesus, Jamestown (large school); Brandon Davis, Cleveland Hill (small school); Tom Noonan, Nichols (private); Pat Walch, Wilson (wild card). Cross Training Legacy Builder Award: Tom Calzone.  

* * * 

The event concluded, as it has in recent years, with the passing of the torch (picture above) from some standout seniors -- Kyle Briggs (St. Joe's), Jake Swan (Southwestern), James Fitzgerald (Orchard Park) and Akeel Lynch (St. Francis) to some standout juniors, including Ben Holmes (Orchard Park) and Trent Ferguson (Williamsville South). 

* * * 

As a surprise to Gallagher, he was presented with his own award about halfway through the ceremony. 

MC extraordinaire John Murphy, Denny Lynch of the Buffalo Bills and Dennis Sarow of the Connolly Cup presented Gallagher with a silver football trophy commemorating the 25th year of the event that was started and has continued to be organized by Gallagher. 

I have said/written this before, but it bears repeating: Western New York in general, and particularly the local high school sports community, is a much better place because of Dick Gallagher. Next time you see him -- maybe it'll be next year on the football sidelines -- thank him for what he has done for Western New York high school sports. 

* * * 

Memo to Kiss 98.5: Your involvement with high school football is very appreciated. It is great that you support the sport and this event.

But next year, don't order -- literally -- the highest trophy the trophy store can put together. The awards (well deserved by Chad Kelly for the Monsignor Martin Association and Jordan Johnson for Section VI) were taller than Dick Gallagher. I don't even know how the players got them home. Where are they going to put them? When people are walking away from the event saying how ridiculous and tacky the trophies are (it's inarguable), instead of how great the players who won them are, something is wrong. If you want to dump a lot of money into something special for the winners, there are plenty of trophies with heft, with cool icons on top, that would be impressive, special momentos without being ridiculous.

* * *

Memo to those players who attended the banquet and posted stuff on Twitter about it DURING the banquet: There were some sentiments of gratitude, which were obviously nice to see.

However, many of the tweets were ridiculous, disrespectful and totally out of line. You are a guest at a banquet and, even though Mr. Gallagher asked everyone to put away their phones, you sat there tweeting repeatedly. On top of that, you were being disrespectful to the event and other award winners IN your tweets.

Those that tweeted disrespectful things, and they know who they are, should absolutely be ashamed of themselves.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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

Live chat (Dec. 14): Courtside at MMA-ECIC Challenge about St. Joe's win, hollerin' coaches & classification fouls by AIS & Section V

Our chat tonight will come to you live from St. Mary's and the final night of the ADPRO Monsignor Martin-ECIC Challenge. 

We'll start the chat at 9 as the final game of the night -- St. Joe's vs. Sweet Home -- is going on. It has a scheduled start of 8:30 p.m., the last of tonight's four games.

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 winter chats: last week's had video and All-WNY football talk (Dec. 7); our first was Nov. 30 (live from the Pastor-Cooper Showcase tipoff).

Our past chats of the 2011 fall season: Nov. 16Nov. 9, Nov. 2Oct. 26Oct. 19Oct. 12Oct. 5Sept. 28Sept. 21 (our video chat debut), Sept. 14Sept. 7 and our preseason chat (Aug. 31), which also includes links to all of of the chats from 2010-11.

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

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

buffalonews.com/highschools     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 | [email protected]

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