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First day of practice: St. Francis (with video interviews)

Back again to One News Plaza after another first-day-of-practice stop, and this one was with another defending champion. After visiting with defending Class AA state champion Orchard Park, it was time to head to Athol Springs to check in with defending Monsignor Martin Association champion St. Francis.

I got to spend a little more time at St. Francis, and it was worth it.

Check out what I heard while watching the end of some defensive-scheme drills at St. Francis' practice fields, which are beyond its football field on Route 75 (that's St. Francis Drive) in Athol Springs. At one point a train passed by in the background as three fields were being used for drills.

These are from coach Jerry Smith during the defensive drill which worked both sides of the line of scrimmage:

 "Any great player -- college or pro or whatever -- is thinking about what he is seeing when he goes down in a three-point stance. You should be thinking on EVERY PLAY about what you are seeing."

"If you are over here instead of over here [shifting his body around to an offensive lineman], then I'm going upfield, baybeeeeee."

"Monkeys might come out of your butt if you don't do what you're supposed to do."

He also had some rousing encouragement after drills that were well done: "There it is!" "Great job!"

Here's one I heard -- from a senior -- as a group of players got water during the final break of practice:

"Ten minutes left in our last first day of football."

A gem from the St. Francis trainer to the freshman team as players came over for water:

"If anyone is thinking of stealing a water bottle, don't. You'll be dead." 

I also followed up on perhaps the buzz-iest note of the #preptalkpreseason. St. Francis has two transfers from Canada, largely due to the success that current Penn State running back Akeel Lynch had in moving from his Toronto home to the Southtowns for his junior and senior years of high school.

Sophomore Jamal Johnson has arrived from the Toronto area.  

Devantie Campbell is a junior transfer from Canada as well -- but he's from ... Montreal (!).  

Yes, that Montreal, the one north of Plattsburgh, the one about eight hours or 400 miles (or 675 kilometers) away from Buffalo.

The success that Lynch had led to St. Francis coach Jerry Smith being invited to speak at a private Canadian company's combines for football players. One was in Toronto and one was in Montreal. Campbell -- who played defensive end in Canada but will be a running back/defensive back for the Red Raiders -- was part of the Montreal combine. He was one of many players to follow up with St. Francis and he decided to make the move away from home. He is staying with a teammate's family -- just as Lynch did.

Also new for St. Francis is Jailyn Coleman, a junior transfer from Sweet Home who is the younger brother of former Panther standout Mikal Coleman.

I had a great talk with coach Smith after practice.

I've tried three times to upload a video, from the same exact phone, from the same exact computer, that worked when I uploaded the OP videos. It has failed over and over, leading me to verbally assault a computer for the first time in the 2012-13 school year. It's a good thing there aren't penalties for that, or else I'd be ineligible for all three seasons. I'll try again later. My apologies.

* * * 

Here we go, better late than never.

Coach Smith along with standout junior Alex Misterman and senior Alex Dolegala:

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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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 |