It's a pretty nice lineup of high school action tonight. Lauren Mariacher and I will be hitting at least a few stops tonight.
We'll both be starting our night at the 6 p.m. girls basketball game as No. 1 small school Cardinal O'Hara takes on No. 6 large school Nardin at Canisius High School.
Other possible stops on a busy night: Also at 6, McKinley hosts Middle Early College in a boys basketball matchup of ranked schools; at 7, the St. Joe's and Canisius hockey teams go at it at Northtown Center; at 8 p.m., St. Joe's basketball hosts Bishop Kearney of Rochester. There are also some key ECIC II boys hoops games as Hamburg heads to Sweet Home and Williamsville South plays at Iroquois.
I'll have updates from games in the live blog below either directly in the blog or by using #preptalkscores updates on Twitter that will appear in the blog.
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.
Go to the Prep Talk Live page for blogging, video and photos from both of tonight's Monsignor Martin championships at Ralph Wilson Stadium (as well as this weekend's Far West Regionals from All High Stadium).
Let us know what you thought of the game in the comments section.
Hello and welcome to what should be another interesting night of high school football here with PrepTalkTV and the Prep Talk blog.
Settle in with your refresh button and get updates here all evening -- I'll provide updates from the games I check out, I'll pass on any score updates I learn of, and we have our team of reporters and photographers at several spots in Western New York tonight so we'll have photos and videos from them as well.
4:15 p.m. We love the early kickoffs here at PrepTalkTV -- we're starting at Nichols, which hosts Cardinal O'Hara in the teams' Monsignor Martin League A opener at 4:30 p.m. at the Big Green's Strauss Truscott Field.
Nichols is 1-1 after beating JFK and battling Grover Cleveland to the end last week; O'Hara started with a big loss at Canisius but last week had an impressive victory over Xavier of New York City.
4:30 p.m. They are about to kick off here at Nichols, and here's our kickoff:
4:41 p.m. Cardinal O'Hara has a quick lead after a 41-yard TOUCHOWN run by senior Robert Davis on the Hawks' first play from scrimmage. Soo Young Park adds the extra point and O'Hara has a 7-0 lead with 6:35 left in the first quarter.
On Nichols' first possession, they quickly had a fourth down come up but got a first down on a fake in which senior Matt Benedict ran to the right side and down the right sideline -- he was whistled for being out of bounds but the Nichols sideline and fans were adamant that he kept himself in.
4:46 p.m. Nichols calls a timeout facing another fourth down, I believe (the scoreboard here just has the score and time and I'm sitting on the back of an elevated scorer's table, facing away from the field.). There is 4:12 remaining in the first. It appears Nichols could be in for a long day.
4:56 p.m. Definitely a long day. Nichols had turned the ball over on downs on that last drive (my bad), Davis broke off another nice run, and then Kyree Carter had plenty of blocking and little trouble getting into the end zone on a 12-yard TOUCHDOWN. The point-after pass failed and O'Hara's lead is 13-0 with 3:07 left in the first.
4:58 p.m. Here we go again. Nichols turns the ball over on downs -- I'm guessing they don't have a punter -- and O'Hara scores on its first play from scrimmage. Sophomore quarterback Anthony DiFrancesco lofts a nice ball down the left sideline for senior Maurice Betton, who makes a very nice airborne catch for a 39-yard TOUCHDOWN. Another Park extra point is good and O'Hara leads, 20-0, with 10:57 left in the second quarter.
5:08 p.m. Yikes. A Nichols fumble is turned into what I believe was a 30-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by Davis. Park adds another kick and O'Hara leads, 27-0, with 8:59 left in the second quarter.
5:15 p.m. Nichols turned the ball over on downs again -- the lack of a punter is killing the Green -- and Davis soon after runs in for a 23-yard TOUCHDOWN. He made some nice moves and slipped out of a few tackles on that one. Another Park PAT and O'Hara's lead is 34-0 with 5:11 left in the second quarter.
And no, I'm pretty sure there is not a mercy rule in football. Just looking at the sidelines, Nichols is outmanned big time, and O'Hara is one of the best small schools in Western New York. That would be enough for a mismatch, but again, the no-punter thing is extremely hazardous to the health of a football team. We've had Nichols drives go four plays and out, handing the Hawks a short field.
The Nichols soccer team is practicing on the adjacent field here -- maybe one of those guys can punt? Sorry, couldn't resist. :-)
5:21 p.m. While we've been typing, Nichols fumbled again, Davis recovered it again, and the Hawks have another short field. The Hawks take over inside the 20 with 3:04 to play in the first half.
5:23 p.m. The football gods just checked in -- an O'Hara fumble is recovered by Benedict.
5:24 p.m. Maybe not. Senior Brandon Lyles with an interception and O'Hara takes over just outside the Nichols 10.
5:28 p.m. Senior Koran McCoy runs in from 2 yards out for a TOUCHDOWN, Park with another extra point, O'Hara with a 41-0 lead with 47 seconds left in the first half.
5:32 p.m. It is HALFTIME and Cardinal O'Hara leads Nichols, 41-0.
Here's what it looked like -- here's Lauren Mariacher's video highlight package:
6:15 p.m. Typing from the car for a quick update ... O'Hara leads Nichols, 48-6, in the fourth quarter. Betton scored for O'Hara on a 35-yard TOUCHDOWN run. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Benedict caught a pass from Liam Ryan for a TOUCHDOWN. It was for about 19 yards; not sure because I was in the parking lot.
I'm off to North Tonawanda for the 0-2 Lumberjacks' home game against 2-0- Niagara Falls.
6:58 p.m. Hello from NT, where we are about to kick off.
7:11 p.m. NT taking over at the Falls 47 after a Falls punt goes bad and the punter does well to pass it forward for an incomplete pass rather than a big loss. It will be NT's second possession; Falls has one first down over two drives which haven't gone far.
7:18 p.m. We are at the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER and it is scoreless between Niagara Falls and North Tonawanda.
7:23 p.m. North Tonawanda scores the game's first TOUCHDOWN as Rob Wikierski takes a handoff to the left side on fourth-and-2 and runs in pretty cleanly for a 5-yard score. Dan Montesanti adds the extra point and North Tonawanda leads Falls, 7-0, with 11:17 left in the second quarter.
7:25 p.m. Niagara Falls comes right back, and it shouldn't be a surprise who came up with a big play. Dale Stewart took the kickoff return back 99 yards on an absolute highlight reel play that I'll post as soon as I can. He appeared to be stopped on the right side, but slipped out of a tackle, reversed field, then made some nice moves and used his speed for quite a play and a TOUCHDOWN. Falls' extra point was blocked by Joe Montesanti; NT leads Falls, 7-6, with 10:58 left in the second quarter.
Here's my iPhone video, picking up just as Stewart picked the ball up:
7:25 p.m. UPDATE from Joe Popiolkowski at East Aurora: Southwestern leads, 7-0, after a John Mistretta run to complete the Trojans' first drive.
UPDATE from Lauren Mariacher at All High: Iroquois leads Lafayette, 8-0, with 11:41 left in the second quarter.
7:43 p.m. NT with another TOUCHDOWN as Joe Montesanti passes to brother Dan for an 18-yard score with 6:08 left in the second quarter. A nice drive which included a very strong run by Joe Montesanti on a keeper. NT leads, 13-6.
7:47 p.m. Falls and Stewart again respond quickly with another TOUCHDOWN on the second play of their next drive. Stewart had some good time, bought some more time by rolling right and he directed Marcus Feagin to get to the end zone. That's where Stewart threw it and the connection to Feagin was a 36-yard score.
Here's the video of that one:
Falls' two-point conversion was stopped -- and NT's lead was preserved -- when Joe Montesanti made a great open-field tackle on Stewart on the left side. NT leads Falls, 13-12, with 5:40 left in the second quarter.
7:56 p.m. It's another TOUCHDOWN connection from brother-to-brother as Dan Montesanti catches a quick pass from Joe over the middle, then does a tremendous job to rumble through several potential tacklers before breaking the plane of the end zone. Dan Montesanti's extra point is wide left and with 1:52 left in the first half, North Tonawanda leads Niagara Falls, 19-12.
Check it out:
8:05 p.m. We are at HALFTIME here with North Tonawanda leading Niagara Falls, 19-12.
UPDATE from Joe Pops at East Aurora: Southwestern goes up, 13-0, on another Mistretta touchdown. There's 4:46 left in the second quarter.
UPDATE from Lauren Mariacher at All High: Iroquois has taken its 8-0 lead on Lafayette to halftime.
UPDATE from noted blogger BullsFan at Lancaster, where the host Redskins lead Clarence, 7-0 with 10 minutes left in the second quarter. "Two long but point-free drives for Clarence," his text reads.
8:08 p.m. More from BullsFan: Lancaster goes up 10-0 on a field goal with eight minutes left in the second, thanks to a long 60-yard-plus run to set it up.
8:11 p.m. Lengthy halftime here for a nice ceremony honoring this year's NT Hall of Fame class. I'm going to try and get another clip or two up.
8:13 p.m. UPDATE from Lauren Mariacher, who turned on her car radio to learn that Southwestern's lead at EA is now 21-0 with 50 seconds left in the second quarter after a 26-yard touchdown catch by Nick Austin.
8:13 p.m. UPDATE from Lauren Mariacher and Joe Pops -- Southwestern is up, 28-0, at halftime at EA after Jake Swan's 50-yard interception return.
8:30 p.m. Big-time bad news for NT: Joe Montesanti, who on the second-to-last play of the first half took a big hit and was holding his head, is not back on the field. He does not appear to be on the sideline either. Junior Pat Angelhow is in at quarterback on the Jacks' first drive of the second half.
UPDATE: Lancaster leads, 13-7, at the half.
8:41 p.m. So much for that bad news. Angelhow had a few classic NT pitches (reminded me of Mike Tuzzo the last two years) on nice runs to lead the Jacks on a scoring drive. The TOUCHDOWN was a halfback option pass from junior Justin Bacon to senior Brandon Camarre on the right side of the field. NT gets an extra point from junior Derek Wasielewski and the Lumberjacks take a 26-12 lead with 6:28 left in the third quarter. Quite a drive for NT -- not just for tonight, but for its season.
Here's the halfback option highlight:
8:51 p.m. Falls, as it as often done this season, comes back with a score. Stewart runs in for a 3-yard TOUCHDOWN with 4:00 left in the third quarter. The drive included two big pass plays, one a deflected pass that senior Flavian Sanders came down with; the other was another excellent scramble by Stewart to the right side, where he put up a long pass for a 31-yard completion to Quandray Gray to the 3.
The point-after attempt has had three penalties in a row; the first two pushed Falls back; the third was a pass interference call on NT; NT then took a timeout.
8:55 p.m. Falls scores on the two-point conversion as Stewart puts up a pass for a wide-open Feagin on the left side of the end zone. NT leads Falls, 26-20, with 4:00 left in the third.
UPDATE: Clarence has scored a touchdown to open the second half; Lancaster leads, 13-12.
9:11 p.m. We are at the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER and NT leads Niagara Falls, 26-20. Falls has a first down at the NT 21.
9:16 p.m. Falls' drive ends on a fourth-and-8 at the NT 19 when junior Justin Bacon picks off a Stewart pass to the right side. NT takes over at its 21 with 10:30 left in the game.
9:22 p.m. Falls' Stewart is a must-see player. The senior just went on a keeper run that was a serious highlight play -- he sped right, cut back to the middle, and somehow escaped numerous close calls by potential tacklers before breaking back to the right sideline and sprinting for a tremendous, 50-yard TOUCHDOWN for Falls. The extra point by Carleton Gayle of Falls is blocked by Rob Wikierski and we are tied at 26-26 with 7:35 left to play.
9:27 p.m. There have been fumbles on THREE straight plays, with teams alternating possessions each time. Falls has the ball at the NT 38 with 7:02 left.
UPDATE: Clarence leads Lancaster, 28-13, with 11:53 left.
9:42 p.m. This game is ridiculous. Justin Bacon takes an inside handoff and runs for a 9-yard TOUCHDOWN to give NT a 32-26 lead on Niagara Falls with 1:15 left in the game. NT calls a timeout before the conversion attempt.
9:44 p.m. Bacon takes a pitch to the wide right side and cuts back through a great open lane and the conversion is GOOD. NT leads, 34-26.
Updates will be limited because I have to file a story for our first edition.
9:49 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: NT 34, Niagara Falls 26.
10:48 p.m. Wow, can an hour fly by when you're running around like a maniac.
Wrote story for first edition, got kicked out of the NT press box at 10:10 p.m., got the stats from NT coach Eric Jantzi, got quotes thanks to Lauren Mariacher's postgame on-field work after she and I were able (thanks, NT) to set up shop in the NT trainers' room, revised the story for the Niagara edition for our two Niagara County schools, and here we are.
Here's our wrapup video from NT:
UPDATES and finals include two WOW scores: McKinley beats Grand Island at Lafayette, 36-19. Pioneer gets a huge win over Eden, 20-0.
A final from games I was updating you on: Clarence surges to a 35-13 win at Lancaster. Had that a little bit ago but it has been crazy.
MUCH more to come on here, video-wise and results-wise, so stay tuned.
10:57 p.m. Speak of the devil (or EA Blue Devil?) -- here's Joe Pops' report from what was a 42-14 victory for Southwestern at East Aurora.
11:06 p.m. Another final from a game we were monitoring -- Iroquois survives Lafayette, 8-6.
Here's some great video of hard-hitting plays during the first half of Iroquois' win at All High Stadium:
One of the big scores put up tonight was one that's not really a surprise as Canisius rolled to a 54-7 win against Bishop Timon-St. Jude at Timon's Fitzpatrick Field in South Buffalo.
Here are Canisius coach Brandon Harris and quarterback Travis Eman talking about the big Monsignor Martin League AA-opening victory. Some great stuff about the game and the Crusaders' next contest against Cathedral Prep of Erie, Pa.:
Some more scoring updates:
The Cardinal O'Hara rout of Nichols we were at for the beginning of the night ended in a 51-12 win for the Hawks.
Here's a rundown of the other scores: Jamestown 41, Bennett 0. ... Orchard Park 43, West Seneca West 8. ... Lake Shore 28, West Seneca East 21. ... Alden 56, Lew-Port 7. ... Medina 36, Tonawanda 0. ... Depew 34, Akron 6. ... Dunkirk 32, Springville 7. ... Lackawanna 37, Olean 8. ... Cattaraugus/Little Valley 34, Ellicottville 24. ... Frewsburg 46, Franklinville 6. ... Randolph 57, Forestville 0. ... Chautauqua Lake 34, Panama 12. ... Cheektowaga 32, Albion 7. ... Cassadaga Valley 32, Wilson 27. ... Frontier 28, Hamburg 0. ... Fredonia 33, Gowanda 0. ... Grover Cleveland 34, All.-Limestone 0. ... Salamanca 30, Roy-Hart 20.
No huge surprises there -- I thought Frontier would come up with another solid win and they did so. ... Nice win for a Lake Shore program that hasn't had many in recent years. ... Impressive home opener for Jamestown romping over Bennett.
Here's my audio wrapup of the night:
See you back here tomorrow ...
* * *
As always, we want to hear from you about what you've seen tonight. Let us know what you thought of the teams, players -- even the hot dogs -- in the comments section below.
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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The Class A final is set -- and it's not Iroquois-Grand Island.
Albion knocked off No. 1 large school and second-seeded Iroquois, 8-5, while Williamsville South toppled No. 1 seed and defending champion Grand Island, 11-5.
The undefeated Purple Eagles (21-0) take on the Billies (10-5) at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Niagara Falls' Sal Maglie Stadium.
In the Monsignor Martin Association, we have three of the final four teams and one killer semifinal matchup.
St. Joe's beat Cardinal O'Hara, 9-0, while Canisius edged Nichols, 3-2 -- the rivals will meet in the semifinals at 3 p.m. Thursday at St. Joe's. The semifinal doubleheader at Joe's concludes with St. Mary's -- which knocked off Bishop Timon-St. Jude, 2-1 -- meeting the winner of Sunday's quarterfinal of Niagara Cathoic at St.Francis.
Lauren Mariacher and I will be back at Canisius College Tuesday night,
putting another episode together on the Manhattan Cup semifinals. We'll
have more action later in the week as the Section VI boys basketball
tournament tips off.
Let us know what you think.
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Here's your own PrepTalkTV DVR loaded with our previous episodes:
Are you ready for some playoff basketball? It starts today. The road ends in Glens Falls a little over a month from now.
We're at Canisius College for the Manhattan Cup quarterfinals -- four back-to-back-to-back-to-back games. Or a quadrupleheader, if you're into that terminology.
1:02 p.m. Pregame introductions have begun for the St. Joe's-Bishop Timon-St. Jude contest. St. Francis-St. Mary's, Canisius-Niagara Catholic and Nichols-Cardinal O'Hara. It's going to be a long but fun day.
The Joe's-Timon matchup is the 4-5 game (Timon is No. 4) and shapes up, as you would expect, as a good one. Also expected to be a top-notch game is the second quarterfinal between top 10 small school St. Mary's and St. Francis; St. Mary's coach Dan Gill told me the other day that something like three of the past four times the teams have met, the games have gone to overtime.
During our National Anthem, this thought pops in my head: Can the flags here at Koessler be a little larger? They look small compared to the advertising banners decorating the facility. Old Glory and Oh-Canada's flag look dwarfed. Maybe the Olympics are on the brain, but they should be more prominent.
1:19 p.m. We are at the end of the first quarter and Timon leads St. Joe's, 13-7.
1:23 p.m. Mike Scarcello just picked up his third foul, prompting a timeout a moment later by Timon coach Jim Palano. Timon leads, 16-12, with 6:23 left in the second quarter.
1:33 p.m. We are at halftime of our first quarterfinal of the day and Bishop Timon-St. Jude leads St. Joe's, 24-20.
1:44 p.m. The second half has begun. The entire season comes down to two quarters, so we'll definitely see a pickup in intensity. Things seemed a tad slow in the first half, sometimes a product of playing a familiar team at a neutral site in a huge game.
1:50 p.m. Timon calls a timeout with 4:13 left in the third quarter with Joe's on the best run of the game. Matthew Dyrek just hit a three-pointer to put Joe's up, 29-24. Joe's has made an effort to push the ball and it has worked in a 9-0 start of the quarter.
That was a big moment in the game for St. Joe's. The rowdies would be going nuts right now. Just wondering: Where are they?
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.