We will have our live chat tonight after I run around to prequarterfinal basketball games.
There's no video start as Lauren Mariacher is off -- plus, I'm not exactly sure when I'll be back in the ofice to get things started. I'd guess around 9:30 or 9:45 p.m.
We'll open the chat window early so we can share updates of #preptalkscores on a fairly busy night of outbracket games that will set the field for Quarterfinal Friday.
Tweets to the hashtag #preptalkscores will also automatically show up in the live blog (including mine). So if you are a game tonight and you're updating via Twitter, be sure to include that hashtag.
Check out tonight's full schedule on our scoreboard page, where you can check back throughout the night for updated box scores and highlights.
As far as the chat goes, I promise I'll get to your question or comment -- 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.
Note: My apologies for my brainfart-caused errors regarding Albion and the A-2 bracket in today's paper. They have been fixed in the story online.
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Video from my Wednesday travels:
Emerson took the lead for good in the final minute on Trevon Tubbins' off-balance jumper.
Raytrel Finley hits the free throw and Deron Adams makes a big steal to help seal the game for the Steelers.
The post-game show:
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Our previous winter chats: Feb. 15 (starting with Ken West at Ken East), Feb. 8 (scorekeepers), Feb. 1 (twitter smh column & football signing day), Jan. 25 (pre-Canisius-Joe's), Jan. 18 (2012 video debut), Jan. 11 (2012 debut/Aquinas-Kearney viewing), Dec. 14 (from the MMA-ECIC Challenge), All-WNY football talk (Dec. 7 w/video); our first was Nov. 30 (live from the Pastor-Cooper Showcase tipoff).
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.
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.
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.
PrepTalkTV met up with a few coaches before the Kensington Lions All-Star Classic at Depew High School to ask them about the upcoming season. Here's what they had to say about their teams and divisions:
St. Francis head coach Jerry Smith:
Burgard head coach Jason Kolb:
Sweet Home head coach John Faller:
Wilson head coach Bill Atlas:
South Park head coach Tim Delaney:
Hamburg head coach Mike McFadden:
St. Mary's head coach Dave Hersey:
Be sure to check back to the PrepTalk blog as we gear up for the first day of practices all around Western New York on Aug. 15.
Greetings on what will be an eventful night of high school football. By the end of the night, we'll know who will be headed to The Ralph for the Section VI championships.
6:59 p.m. Just arrived at Alden -- my first visit to the school -- and there's a great environment here with a super-packed bleacher and hundreds of fans standing along the fence around the field under the Friday Night Lights.
7:07 p.m. We've started. Burgard kicked off and Alden started at its 35; it just called a timeout facing second-and-10 at the Burgard 34 with 10:41 left in the first quarter. Alden has first downs via a big run by Dakota Peel and a pass interference penalty.
7:12 p.m. Alden has completed an impressive first drive with a score. Senior quarterback Tyler Stoldt took a quarterback draw and did an excellent job to speed his way to the left, dodge a few tacklers and then scoot untouched past the left pylon for a 23-yard TOUCHDOWN. Senior Ray Richards adds the extra point kick and Alden leads Burgard, 7-0, with 9:29 left in the first quarter.
7:21 p.m. Alden is off to a tremendous start. Burgard's first drive went three-and-out -- it appears that senior quarterback Darren Sanders is not playing.
Alden took just four plays to score again as Stoldt put up a very pretty pass to the back left corner to senior Nate Bailey for a 26-yard TOUCHDOWN. Another Richards kick puts Alden up, 14-0, with 5:19 left in the first quarter.
UPDATE from correspondent Nate Beutel at All High: Fredonia takes a 7-0 lead on Grover a 2-yard run by Shane Smith midway through the first quarter.
UPDATE from video reporter Joe Popiolkowski and blogger TML1000: Host Clarence leads Kenmore West, 7-0, after an 11-yard pass from Zach Lauricella to Dominic Principale.
Here's Principale's touchdown, thanks to Popiolokowski:
7:30 p.m. Alden calls a timeout with 18.7 seconds left with a first down at the Burgard 27.
7:32 p.m. At the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER, Alden leads Burgard, 14-0.
UPDATE from video reporter Lauren Mariacher: Orchard Park and Jamestown are scoreless after one quarter.
Here are Mariacher's highlights from that first quarter at OP, including a goal-line stand by the Quakers:
7:34 p.m. UPDATE: Fredonia up, 13-0, entering the second quarter after a 51-yard fumble return for a score.
UPDATE from Scott Kindberg of the Jamestown Post-Journal: Southwestern leads Salamanca, 7-0, with 6:14 left in the first quarter after a 3-yard run by John Mistretta.
7:42 p.m. Alden has scored on all three of its possessions, adding another TOUCHDOWN after another impressive drive. It ended with another pretty pass from Stoldt, a 5-yard score in which he lofted the ball up to the left side where Bailey reeled it in. Richards added another extra point and Alden's lead is 21-0 with 7:47 left in the second quarter.
UPDATE from TML: Clarence's lead is now 21-0. Wittig scored the second touchdown on a run that followed a failed fake field goal by Kenmore West.
7:51 p.m. Alden calls a timeout with 4:29 left in the second facing third-and-12 at the Burgard 43.
UPDATE from All High: A Chris Holland TD pass has cut Fredonia's lead to 13-8 with four minutes left in the second.
7:56 p.m. Alden got the first down and now has first-and-goal at the Burgard 8.
7:58 p.m. On second-and-goal at the 5, Peel takes a carry to the right side and through a great hole to pound in for a TOUCHDOWN. Richards adds another extra point and Alden has a 28-0 lead with 1:41 left in the first half.
Obviously a very, very impressive opening half for the Alden Bulldogs against the Burgard Bulldogs.
8:04 p.m. Darren Sanders has made an appearance here late in the half. Burgard had a first down at the Alden 15, but Sanders has been sacked on two straight plays. It is third and 28 at the Alden 33.
8:09 p.m. Some drama here to end the half, but Alden's big lead is intact. Burgard had a 33-yard touchdown from Shamari Cheney to Corvonte Jones waved off on a holding penalty; Cheney scrambled from the right side of the field to the left, got off a pass on the run and after the pass was deflected, Jones caught in on the doorstep of the end zone and trotted in. Burgard ended the half with another incompletion.
At HALFTIME, Alden has a 28-0 lead over Burgard.
8:12 p.m. UPDATES: Fredonia leads Grover Cleveland, 20-8, after a Shane Smith touchdown pass with four seconds left in the first half. ... Bee reporter extraordinare Pat Nagy reports that Will South has a 28-7 lead on Will East at halftime. ... Clarence leads Kenmore West, 27-0, at halftime.
8:22 p.m. UPDATES: Lackawanna has a 12-0 lead at Pioneer at halftime.
8:31 p.m. The second half has started terribly for Burgard and excellently for Alden, as Burgard fumbles a handoff on its first play from scrimmage and Alden takes over at the Burgard 29 just 15 seconds in to the third quarter.
UPDATE: Lackawanna now leads, 20-0, in the third quarter.
8:37 p.m. UPDATES: Clarence leads Kenmore West, 34-0, with 10:05 left in the third quarter; thanks to Prep Talk Nation's Coach K for that. ... Lackawanna's lead now up to 26-0.
8:39 p.m. Alden has finished off the first possession and good field position with a TOUCHDOWN after a 1-yard dive by Peel. Another Richards kick and Alden's lead is 35-0 with 6:43 left in the third quarter.
UPDATE: Fredonia's lead over Grover Cleveland is up to 26-8 in the third quarter.
8:50 p.m. UPDATES: Orchard Park leads, 26-0, in fourth quarter. ... Clarence has a 41-0 lead with 3:30 left in the third after a 10-yard pass from Lauricella to William Fitzhenry. ... Lackawanna's lead is up to 34-0.
9 p.m. At the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, Alden leads Burgard, 35-0.
UPDATES: Will South leads East, 35-7, after three quarters.
9:11 p.m. Junior Ryan Sosnowski goes in for a 6-yard score and Richards adds another kick as Alden takes a 42-0 lead with 5:29 left in the fourth.
UPDATE: Will South now up, 35-14, in fourth.
9:19 p.m. Burgard scores on a 3-yard TOUCHDOWN on a run by junior Corvonte Jones. The two-point conversion is no good; Alden leads, 42-6, with 1:49 left.
9:26 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Alden 42, Burgard 6.
Here's the video package Joe Popiolkowski put together on the game:
FINAL: Will South wins, 42-20. ... Fredonia up, 38-20, with 3:39 left.
We'll be back tomorrow from Sweet Home to get the final puzzle piece for the Section VI championships, and soon after we'll have another PrepTalkTV preview of those five games at The Ralph.
Finally, I'd like to thank Alden for its hospitality and a great workspace. When I showed up at the gate, I was escorted to the press box by an intern with the athletic department. Whoa. Never had that happen before.
A great touch was the reading of what I believe was referred to as the "Bulldog athletic pledge," a sportsmanship pledge that set a great tone. The pledge was also printed on a sign at the entrance to the field. Very nice job.
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As always, we want to hear from you about any games you saw: Let us know what you thought of the players, teams -- even the concession stand -- in the comments section below.
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Also, if you will be at a game and are interested in supplying updates to the Prep Talk blog, email me with your name and cell number at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get in touch -- or you can just email me updates from one of those fancy phones. We don't need every play or even every possession -- just scoring plays and the score after each quarter and anything else that would cause you to blow up a fellow fan's phone with a text/email. I'll definitely give you a shoutout here, as I have the last few weeks, for helping pass the word along during the Friday Night Live and Saturday Afternoon Live blogs.
9:03 a.m. We traversed our way through North Buffalo to Cleveland Hill to see Burgard warming up on a practice area and O'Hara and Cleve Hill going at it on the main field (which appears to be getting some upgrades -- newly paved asphalt and concrete is taped off in some areas).
It is sounding more and more like football season with coaches yelling and pads popping.
It doesn't take long for O'Hara coach Angelo Sciandra to find midseason form. After a play didn't go the way he wanted, he exclaimed from behind the line of scrimmage: "Are you kidding me?!!? You've GOT to be kidding me!!"
The parents were ready to go as well. A Cleveland Hill run play against O'Hara invoked cries of "Get him! Get him!" by a mom.
9:16 a.m. After a series between O'Hara's defense and Cleve Hill's offense (in which Joe Pops and his camera almost got run over on the sideline -- twice :-) ), Burgard's defense takes on O'Hara's offense. The Bulldogs looked ready to go, with No. 0 Victor Peoples calling out plays for the defense, which stuffed a few O'Hara plays in the series I watched.
Here's a nice pass breakup by O'Hara (below) -- check out the deft move by Joe Pops to pull the tripod out of the way just in time. This was our first play of the day. Some more good commentary by coach Sciandra as well.
Here (below) Burgard did a good job to bottle up O'Hara standout back Robert Davis (who had some big fans on the sideline):
9:24 a.m. We've seen enough quality stuff (and gotten it on video) to hit the road up to Lockport, which is hosting Sweet Home, North Tonawanda, Grand Island, St. Francis and Williamsville South. Kensington Ave. brings us to the I-290 and we're headed to the 990, Millersport Highway and Transit Road.
9:55 a.m. Arrive at Lockport's Emmett Belknap Middle School, home of the Lions' football field (my first visit). We see the end of the first session and are on hand for a great show between defending state champions Sweet Home and North Tonawanda, which was a blast to watch.
The first session had quarterback and Jordan Johnson moving Sweet Home's offense very well against NT's defense; the second session had NT starting slowly but finishing strong with several scoring plays.
All teams are pretty hyped up to start Scrimmage Saturday -- there were loud pregame hollers going on at Cleveland Hill -- but you got the sense from both defending state champions that this scrimmage matchup would mean more than most.
You can hear the energy in the teams' opening play, as NT players are clapping it up before a tone-setting run by Sweet Home's Ralph Neasman that the sideline loved (above).
After another run by Neasman, check out this great play (above) -- Johnson for his scramble and Coleman for a lot of reasons.
Coleman -- in the backfield -- dispatches with a blitzer to help enable Johnson to get free on a run that he would end extremely solidly in a big collision with an NT defender. But listen and watch Coleman after the play. Sweet Home players were understandably fired up with the big hit, but then Coleman tells them to "take a knee!" as the player is down.
I believe you can hear him off camera telling the player he's going to be alright. The player did get up and walk off under his own power, and Coleman yells to the player, "You good, you good! Told you it was just a stinger!"
After a tough Coleman run up the middle, Neasman took a pitch to the far right (above) for a touchdown.
Sweet Home's next possession started with a Johnson scramble to the left side, followed by Juwan Douglas with a run to the right (above) in which he kept his legs churning.
After a pass to the left, Coleman went in easily for a touchdown run (above), taken from a scrimmages-only camera vantage point (leaning on a goal post on the back line of the end zone).
When Sweet Home headed back near midfield for a new series, coach John Faller hollered at his team, "Let's have some fun ... all those two-a-days ... this is fun. Let's have some fun."
The Panthers' next possession was a quick one as K.J. Zinermon went in motion and caught a pass from Johnson before he dodged some tacklers to speed down the right sideline (and right by me) for a touchdown (above).
Another quick strike by Sweet Home: Johnson heaves it down the right side (above) and Brian Barnes adjusts to the ball and goes in for a touchdown.
NT gets an interception of Johnson (above); Sweet Home obviously had a nice offensive set but NT did get some pressure up the middle and a few sacks on some other plays. We can't show 'em all, of course.
The second session during this rotation was outstanding because while NT's offense came on to battle Sweet Home on one half of the field, fans got to watch University at Buffalo-bound quarterback Joe Licata and the Williamsville South offense take on Lockport on the other.
Licata twice hit Kevin O'Connell on the right side, once to get into scoring range and the second time for the touchdown (below).
Here's the fun second session in a nutshell (below) ...
... Licata completes a long pass on the left side of the field, then Joe Montesanti runs for North Tonawanda on the right side.
NT finds a big hole in the defense for a rushing touchdown (above) that gives Lumberjack players and fans cause for celebration.
Back to the South scrimmage ... Licata hits Phil Stasiak (I believe) for a long completion (above) but there's a fumble at the end of the play.
Here's another two-for-one clip (above) and it's defensive minded as Sweet Home and Lockport both stopped up run attempts by NT and South, respectively.
NT finds another hole in the defense (above) by running to the left for a touchdown.
Afterwards, Sweet Home coach Faller scolded some of his frustrated troops with: "Don't point fingers! Don't point fingers ... unless you're perfect."
The run-and-fun-and-gun Billies of South haven't seemed to change much, as they show here with an nice reverse run for a score.
I'm disappointed I didn't get over to watch two outstanding programs in Grand Island and St. Francis go at it on the practice field behind the bleachers (Joe Pops did with the video camera, however), but there was just too much going on on the main field. As is the case with the entire day, there's just not enough time to catch everyone.
10:57 a.m. Back in the car and ready to move shortly. This was our first chance to actually catch up on the blog, pounding away at the laptop in the car in the parking lot at Lockport.
11:08 a.m. We're on our way to Riverside, where a good group of the Frontiers, Bishop Timon-St. Jude, McKinley and Maple Grove are in action. This will be a relatively quick stop because we need to get out to Canisius' West Seneca field for their scrimmage with Orchard Park.
11:43 a.m. Arrive at Riverside and its newly paved parking lot adjacent to its new facility, which looks great with the four teams in action and a modest group of fans checking it out.
Maple Grove's offense is going against McKinley on one half, with new quarterback Alex Grace completing several screen passes against the Macks. On the other half of the field, Riverside's defense is standing very tall against Timon's offense.
Here's a look:
12:11 p.m. We're off to zip around the I-190 to Canisius' Stransky Complex in West Seneca.
12:27 p.m. We arrive at Canisius' fine facility on Clinton Street, where in a mile or three you go from citylike to suburbanlike to countrylike surroundings.
This scrimmage might have just two teams, but if you're going to check out a two-team affair, you can't get much better than the defending Monsignor Martin champion and one of Section VI's best programs.
When we arrived, the teams were going through rudimentary special teams plays, like punt and kickoff returns without the full units on the field.
It was a good time to catch up on what happened earlier, and word on the sideline (just for the record, it was the Canisius sideline, but all from very reliable sources :-) ) was that the Crusaders had a great early session when the No. 1 offense and defense from both teams matched up.
Canisius had two touchdowns on early drives while it stifled OP's drive, which, sources said, didn't get across midfield while the Crusaders also had at least three takeaways. A standout was Canisius running back Mercer Timmis, a transfer from Canada who had plenty of people talking after some strong runs.
I was pleased to find out that the No. 1s would be going at it again, and Orchard Park fared much better than it apparently did earlier. It moved the ball quite well, including a nice completion by senior quarterback Kyle Witkowski (below).
In the next nine-play segment, Orchard Park had a great start with a few run stops as well as an interception (above).
Canisius showed the offensive firepower it displayed last season when Eman, after hitting a pass across the middle, delivered a deep spiral down the left side and Theo Russell stretched out to reel it in.
OP came up with a good finish to the session as well. It stopped two runs inside the 10 and, on the ninth-play on what would have been a third-down, a linebacker made a nice read on an Eman pass for another interception (above).
In a final series between the top units, Eman hit Russell -- this time for a long touchdown -- just before the close of the scrimmage.
1:39 p.m. After shooting our "stand-up" (TV term) for PrepTalkTV -- which is also referred to by me as my "blabbity-blah," we're heading back to the office where I'll be updating a ton on the blog.
1:48 p.m. We're back at One News Plaza, where I'll update the blog with a lot of stuff while Joe Pops puts the episode of PrepTalkTV together. I'll have that posted here as soon as it's completed.
I'll be heading out two two evening scrimmages (hosted by Iroquois and Amherst) and will have more updates and details later.
4:36 p.m. I'm hitting the road again, hitting Iroquois and then Amherst.
5:19 p.m. Make that Amherst and then Iroquois. It made too much sense to swing by Amherst after driving Joe Pops back to his car.
5:28 p.m. With some good highlights in the phone, I'm off for my lengthy trip to Elma and the Chiefs' scrimmage with Lackawanna and Frontier.
There were some nice plays between Hutch-Tech's offense and West Seneca West's defense on one half and the Kenmore East defense and Amherst offense on the other.
Hutch-Tech scored a touchdown on West Seneca West as I walked into Dimp Wagner Field, then put in a two-point conversion. Amherst scored a nice passing touchdown on one of the first plays I watched; on the next play on that half, Kenmore East's sideline got fired up after its defense knocked the Tigers back for a loss.
Here's how it went down:
5:52 I arrive at Iroquois and, thanks to my trip here last year, I know where I'm going.
I take the dirt road behind the school to near the baseball field, then walk through some high grassy and wooded areas into a clearing and what you could call the Chiefs' practice field of dreams.
I'm told by noted Prep Talk Nation first-ballot Hall of Fame blogger Milt Latimer that there has yet to be a touchdown, and there won't be in my stay there, although there are some solid plays.
Lackawanna's Keith Taggart probably had the play of the day -- he managed to handle a pitch that bounced on its way to him, then evaded tackler after tackler has he advanced well into the secondary.
The Steelers had some effective pass plays in the time I was there, while Frontier and Iroquois both had some nice stops.
Here are the best ones the phone and I captured from the sidelines:
6:59 p.m. After a good discussion about the day's action as well as the upcoming season with Milt, I walk up the hill, drive back up the dirt road, pass Latimer Field, and head back to One News Plaza.
The two evening trips brings us to a total of 22 teams covered across six sites. Whew. That's over a quarter of the teams in Western New York (87). Booyah.
(And 35 video clips! Booyah again.)
If you were at any scrimmages, let us know which ones and what you thought of the action in the comments section below.
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Greetings on the busiest night of boys basketball all year. Lots of games, lots of big matchups.
4:51 p.m. Just got a call from fellow reporter Lauren Mariacher, who headed to Burgard to shoot video of Grover Cleveland's 4:15 p.m. game there. There was no game and she was told by a student that it had been called off.
She's headed to McKinley's hosting of East (5:30), and so am I. The plan is to head to Niagara Falls at North Tonawanda and possibly Maryvale at Depew after that.
6:39 p.m. Quite the developments here at McKinley, which took a 42-26 halftime lead on East. Yes, you read that right.
Ten of East's players, including all five starters, were suspended prior to the game and the Panthers were forced to go with JV callups to fill out its lineup for today. The suspensions were due to academic reasons.
The length of the suspensions is not known -- they are at least for one week, according to coach Starling Bryant. The length of the suspensions could also differ for different players.
Said Bryant during halftime: "It could be one week, it could be two weeks or it could be permanent. They didn't do what they were supposed to do academically. They didn't hold up their end of the bargain. At East, it's academics first. It could be a week, or it could be sectionals, and I'll go with the young boys."
East entered the game 12-2 overall, co-ranked second among large schools in Western New York, and 9-0 in the Yale Cup. The Panthers were one of two unbeatens in the Yale Cup (along with Middle College, which won Monday to go to 10-0).
6:46 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, McKinley leads East, 59-41.
The five East starters who were suspended were Domonique Jackson, Tremell Fisher, Andre Jackson, Dale Gray and Deon Robinson.
The only two regulars not to get suspended are Jason Oden and Chris Boyd.
6:49 p.m. The McKinley lead is up to 63-41 with 6:44 left in the game.
This is clearly a major blow to East, which I had voted No. 1 in the large school poll the last three weeks. The Panthers were the favorite in A-2 and had the kind of team, I thought, that was capable of a run to Glens Falls. Many fans were already looking forward to a East-Williamsville South overall Class A final.
We'll have to see. If East gets enough of its players back by sectionals, they may still be able to make that kind of run. The Yale Cup is a much different story, and Middle College is now firmly in front of what was expected to be a thrilling finish. Middle, Grover and East have yet to play this season -- the first game among them over an exciting final two weeks is Middle College's game at Grover Cleveland on Thursday.
6:53 p.m. McKinley 71, East 44 with 4:30 left in the game. Stunning stuff.
Many of the suspended East players are watching the game from the front row of the bleachers. Tough lesson to learn for those guys. Hopefully it's not to late for them to perhaps turn things around -- in the classroom and then on the basketball court.
7:02 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: McKinley 84, East 53.
I'm off to NT. I'm hoping WLVL-AM is on the air for my ride up there :-)
7:37 p.m. No WLVL for the ride, but it's still the second quarter so we'll be fine.
I walked into NT with the home team having a two-point lead, but while I was getting set up Darrik Bloomfield followed a three-pointer with a sweet putback of a teammate's airball -- Bloomfield caught it from under the basket and reverse layup-ed it all in midair -- to put NT up, 30-18 over Niagara Falls with 3:50 left in the second quarter.
7:39 p.m. Falls gets a bunch back in a hurry and cut it to 30-24 with 2:44 left in the quarter.
7:45 p.m. At halftime, North Tonawanda leads Niagara Falls, 38-27.
NT coach Erik O'Bryan seems pretty loose -- he walks by me as I'm hunched over the laptop and I hear, "say hello to Prep Talk Nation."
It was 16-16 after one quarter. Aaron Davis leads NT with 12 points while Bloomfield had all 10 of his in the second quarter. Davon Marshall leads Falls with 12.
The reports regarding Jordan Street are correct. He is ineligible and not listed in the scorebook for Falls.
7:58 p.m. An early timeout on a scramble on the floor -- NT leads, 37-29, with 6:33 left in the third.
8:07 p.m. Falls calls a timeout with NT having taken a 46-35 lead with 2:14 left in the third.
UPDATE from Wilson: Host Lakemen lead Medina, 30-16, at halftime.
8:13 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, North Tonawanda leads Niagara Falls, 46-35.
UPDATE from Depew: Host Wildcats lead, 15-14, over Maryvale after one quarter.
8:21 p.m. NT calls a timeout with 5:11 left and holding a 51-41 lead. Marshall has hit back-to-back threes for Falls.
8:27 p.m. With 1:44 left in the game, NT calls a timeout with a 55-45 lead.
8:30 p.m. Two free throws by Maurice Respress and Falls calls a timeout with 1:21 left; NT leads, 55-47.
8:40 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: North Tonawanda 61, Niagara Falls 54.
North Tonawanda SWEEPS Niagara Falls. What a season.
The scorebooks from the game are to the right.
Who thought Niagara Falls was going to lose in the Niagara Frontier League this season? Who thought Niagara Falls was going to get swept this season? Wow.
NT handled the Falls pressure early, then just beat the Wolverines the rest of the way. The Jacks were an extremely confident team, moving the ball well on offense, rebounding well and playing good defense. Falls was limited largely to outside shots, and they didn't have a good shooting night.
8:50 p.m. Finished with some interviews and some video stuff and we're going to try and make it to Depew for the end of what has been a close game (Maryvale led, 24-23, at halftime).
9:36 p.m. Made it to Depew in time for interviews, but not in time to catch the game that ended with this FINAL SCORE: Maryvale 54, Depew 49. Maryvale clinches at least a tie for the ECIC III title.
Hey, we tried to get there in time, but when we arrived we were swimming upstream into the huge crowd leaving the gym. (Thanks much to Sean Bruso for texting me updates from Depew).
More details, video and scores to come so stay tuned.
10:10 p.m. Got some details sent in to the paper.
Here are a few notable finals that are in (we'll have the scoreboard up as soon as possible):
* Wilson takes control of the Niagara-Orleans race with a 52-34 victory over Medina;
* Grand Island makes some noise by thumping visiting Lockport, 79-67;
* Cleveland Hill with a very nice ECIC IV win, 53-45, at Alden -- where Lackawanna fell just last week;
* Bishop Timon-St. Jude wins at home over St. Francis, 58-54, bouncing back from Monday night's loss at Nichols;
* Some drama in ECIC I as Clarence handles visiting Frontier, 61-55, after the Falcons had wins over Jamestown and Orchard Park. Speaking of OP, they escape Lancaster with a 61-60 win.
11:12 p.m. Man, this video stuff is not easy. "Keith talking, take 47." ... "Cut!"
Among the later scores to come in came from one of the later starts -- St. Joe's wins at Maple Grove, 72-44. I'm not sure many expected that kind of margin no matter which team came away with a victory.
It's a Friday, and there are a ton of games tonight, so I'm reprising my Friday Night Live blog entry as I slush-slide my way around Western New York trying to catch as much action as I can.
My goal is to end up at the Amherst at Maryvale game in which son Chris Kensy of the Tigers will be coaching against his father, Mark. There are a lot of potential stops in between now and then, but we'll see how much we can squeeze in.
4:58 p.m. After a stop at the office, our first stop is an easy one - the earliest game of the night is a 4:15 p.m. Yale Cup contest between Burgard and Middle College at the Kats' home court -- ECC-City's Flickinger Center.
Upon my entry, I was handed a Middle College program -- a great-looking, 12-page full color edition with photos, bios and ads. It's even got an excerpt of the Prep Talk blog on the back page. We like that.
Middle College is up more than I expected -- 40-15 at halftime. Burgard is coming off a nice win over McKinley to start Yale Cup play on Wednesday.
Darale Young was honored for being the school's first 1,000-point scorer at halftime. That was a better highlight than much of the action on the floor -- Middle was running Burgard off the floor.
5:22 p.m. Middle's lead is now 62-23 after three quarters. Overwhelming defense by the Kats. Burgard had a two-point second quarter, according to a report from Centercourt.
With my stories posted and the next round of Yale Cup games set to start at 5:30, I'm outta here.
5:49 p.m. It turns out I was outta there a few minutes later after getting some more computer stuff straight, fending off an aggressive parking lot attendant who thought I wasn't going to pay, slip-and-slide driving over to Hutch-Tech, and getting the Darale Young video posted in the parking lot.
5:50 p.m. Then I walk into Hutch-Tech, right on time ... for the end of the JV game between the Engineers and McKinley! Arghhhhhh!
I've got no time to waste, so I'm heading to Grover.
6:07 p.m. We arrive at Grover to an expectedly frenetic pace between the Presidents and Seneca.
6:10 p.m. No. 15 for Grover just SLAMMED a one-handed dunk down off of a standing start at the left side of the hoop. Wow. I gotta find out who that guy is. Too bad I didn't have the iPhone going. Centercourt (he got here before me) was calling for the iPhone on that one. Bummer.
6:14 p.m. At the end of the first quarter at Grover, the Presidents lead Seneca, 25-18. Ricky Alejandro hit three three-pointers in the quarter, including one in the final minute, for Grover. He only missed one shot in the quarter, reports Prep Talk Nation member Hollywood. Looks like I'm going to the right games, running into these guys.
6:16 p.m. I've got a little bit of a cushion, time-wise, since Canisius hosts St. Francis in a 6:30 p.m. scheduled start. I'm planning on stopping by there and then heading north to the Kenmore schools (7 p.m. starts). The targets are then Will North at Clarence and finally Amherst at Maryvale. We'll see how it goes.
6:21 p.m. Seneca's Aaron Frazier just scored on a slick drive while being fouled but couldn't hit the free throw. It's a 31-26 Grover lead with about four minutes left in the second. There is a very -- spirited, shall we say -- discussion going on between an adult female Grover fan and an adult male Seneca fan. People getting fired up but nothing out of hand. Good stuff. One of the best things at this game is Grover's big dog of a mascot -- you should be able to spot the spotted fella behind the baseline on a video highlight I post later.
6:28 p.m. We're off to Canisius soon, where hopefully the JV game is finished by the time I get there. Grover leads Seneca, 36-27, with two minutes left in the second quarter.
6:29 p.m. One very important quick correction before we split -- the Grover dog mascot is a female.
Some great videos featuring said dog ...
Was it a three? Just keep your eye on the dog, dog.
The action doesn't stop, the dancing doesn't stop. Outstanding.
6:43 p.m. I inexplicably take a much longer way to Canisius than I should have and arrive to catch the last seconds of the first quarter, which has Canisius leading, 15-9.
6:45 p.m. Back in the car to get some writing done, and my computer is on the fritz. Ugh.
7:07 p.m. Just pull into a primo parking spot at Kenmore West, where the Niagara Falls visit has a pretty full lot here.
Adding a few pictures then will get a very quick look at the game.
7:18 p.m. Walk into Ken West just in time for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Not soon after, Niagara Falls has an 8-0 lead.
C.J. Cox gets things started with a steal-and-basket.
Maurice Respress gets up for a rebound and a follow.
As Davon Marshall hits a long two-pointer, I'm out the door at 7:23 p.m.
7:32 p.m. Pull into Kenmore East, where Lockport is visiting.
7:44 p.m. Back in the car -- Lockport had a 15-3 lead after one quarter and is now up, 16-7, with 6:02 left in the first half. Shannon Haynes had two twos and a three for seven points in the first quarter.
Nice basket by East's Peter Crawford, followed by a near-miss by Lockport's Haynes.
Another near-miss by Lockport.
The play was a bit choppy and I wasn't able to get a quick highlight like I was at West. Off to Clarence.
8:11 p.m. Arrive at Clarence, and who is working the door to the gym but Buffalo News Hall of Fame Sports SuperClerk Alex Chambers, now a teacher and coach at Clarence. Gotta love it.
This was my first trip to the Clarence gym -- I've been here plenty of times for outdoor sports when the parking lot isn't all snowy.
8:20 p.m. Clarence and Williamsville North are tied at 27-27 in the final minute of the first half. I saw about two minutes of more choppy game action, but it was enough to see what people have been talking about with regards to talented eighth-grade starter Sterling Taplin of North.
Taplin sets up a teammate for a North basket.
With halftime approaching, I'm outta here and off to Maryvale.
8:37 p.m. Pull into Maryvale parking lot, hoping for at least a good chunk of the second half still to go.
8:59 p.m. After three failed tries at doors to the Maryvale gym (score one for security!), I find the right one and sneak under the bleachers to center court (two words) and there's a lot of basketball to play.
I catch some end-of-third-quarter action and Maryvale has a 54-40 lead over Amherst heading to the fourth.
9:09 p.m. With 2:58 left to play, Maryvale is up, 58-49.
Twice in the fourth, Amherst comes within seven points ...
... but both times Blair Estarfaa comes up big with a basket. Above is one of those times.
9:17 p.m. Maryvale is going to win this one, up, 63-52, with 25.7 seconds left.
9:24 p.m. Maryvale beats Amherst, 66-56. An embrace between the coaches at the end of the handshake line, then Chris Kensy with a little hug for all of the Maryvale players, who he coached as the Flyers' JV coach the last three years.
I had a great talk with both Kensys after the game -- I'll write more about their meeting in Tuesday's Scholastic Spotlight.
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In total, seven games at eight sites in less than 4-1/2 hours. Not bad. I'm still irked that I got to Hutch-Tech while the JV game was still going on. Could have been eight!
To review: I went from Middle College to Hutch-Tech to Grover Cleveland to Canisius to Kenmore West to Kenmore East to Clarence to Maryvale.
I planned the route based on geography and time -- and it pretty much worked out. I went a long way to not spend much time at Clarence, but I think it was worth seeing Taplin in what was a good ECIC I game. I saw Lockport and Shannon Haynes and got an idea of where their recent good play has come from. I wish I could have stuck around for more of what looked to be a very entertaining Grover-Seneca contest.
And the end worked out great -- it was a blast seeing the Kensy-vs.-Kensy coaching battle at Maryvale. An outstanding atmosphere at that game. Amherst brought a lot of fired-up fans -- it seems the entire program has gotten a boost behind coach Chris Kensy.
I'm not sure the total mileage -- don't worry, I'll have it ready for the expense report -- but the route unfolded pretty well. My main tough call driving-wise was whether to take Sheridan all the way out between Ken East and Clarence -- I opted for the 290 to the Thruway to Transit to Wehrle to Harris Hill to Main. That was probably was best move considering the stop-and-go-ing on Maple and likely Sheridan, especially since you had to be careful with the slick roads.
Looks like I missed a big second half for Clarence, which went on to beat North; I was right about Grover's win over Seneca being a fun one (76-70). Middle College, Canisius, Lockport and Falls all rolled, which was expected even before I stuck my head in their games.
The one other game I wanted to check out but thought it was a little too far out of the way was Lew-Port at North Tonawanda -- and waddya know, NT wins in three overtimes. Whoa.
Centercourt was heading up to Newfane and he saw a great one it seems as the Panthers knock off Medina, 54-53. Another whoa.
Nice showing again from Cleveland Hill, which falls to Holland in overtime. A bit curious about Lackawanna only beating Tonawanda by eight; good job by the Warriors to keep it to single digits.
We'll leave this on a pretty cool note, a video of coaches Kensy:
The Yale Cup opened up Wednesday evening. On a busy night I was only able to catch a quarter (the third) of East at Seneca.
East was having their way, extending its 37-25 halftime lead to 55-35 lead after three.
Here's a highlight video as Seneca's No. 3, Nic Alexander, spins and scores with a circus layup, followed by East junior Jasen Oden draining a three (even though you can't see him shoot it) from the left corner to put East up, 42-26, and prompt a timeout from Seneca coach Scott Kirsch.
Deon Robinson had some impressive plays, as usual, with a blind reverse layup as well as a finish off of a nice steal by 6-3 senior Dale Gray. Domonique Jackson also, as usual, contributed in several ways with a block on defense and two nice passes, including a slick across-the-lane find of Gray for a layup.
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The finals have rolled in, and while East's 67-45 win is no surprise, Burgard's 51-49 win over McKinley is.
McKinley lost a lot from last year but still had some good wins to its credit, including a victory over Maple Grove at the Dunkirk Boys & Girls Tournament.
Middle College got a nice opening win at Bennett, 77-60, while Riverside came back to edge City Honors, 74-70.
Other Yale Cup finals: Grover Cleveland 73, Emerson 34; Hutch-Tech 63, Buffalo Arts 33; Lafayette 76, South Park 33
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This just in from the Niagara Frontier League: Lockport 85, North Tonawanda 63. Nice win for the Lions helped by Shannon Haynes' 37-point night.
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We'll have a complete scoreboard up as soon as possible. And don't forget my live chat at 9:30 p.m.
Today's 106th Harvard Cup championship between Burgard vs. Riverside at All High Stadium.(11 a.m.) will be broadcast on WJJL (1440 AM) as well as at wjjl.com and nhsbn.com. Pregame coverage begins at 10:40 a.m.
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.
Lauren Nicole Mariacher joined The News in 2009 after graduating from the Columbia University School of Journalism. The Elma native and Iroquois graduate can usually be found on a sideline, capturing highlights for PrepTalkTV. She also hosts Prep Talk's weekly live show, with Keith McShea, as well as The News' live postgame Bills show — [BN]TheHuddle.