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Friday Night Live: Week One kicks off

The last time a Western New York high school football team was on the field, it was the completion of one of the greatest feats in local sports history.

It was Orchard Park's state championship victory in last year's Class AA final, the completion of a thrilling weekend for Section VI at the Carrier Dome as four teams won state titles. 

Cardinal O'Hara and Bishop Timon-St. Jude get lined up Saturday evening. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) Tonight, we start all over again.

Orchard Park hosts Lockport, just one of several intriguing matchups on a busy (25 games) Friday night of football. Here's what you thought in a poll on what's the best game of the night.

Stay here through the night as we'll have updates as soon as we get them.

Also, tune your twitter to "bufnewspreptalk" to get instant updates of the scores as soon as they are reported to us.

* * * 

And away we go:

Note to those attending Bishop Timon-St. Jude games this season. They are offsides on their kickoff times.

I rushed to Tifft Farms and Fitzpatrick Field eager to see the first kickoff in the City of Buffalo this year.

I walked through the gate at 6:55 p.m. as I heard whistles and saw action on the field.

"What time did they start?" I asked the ticket taker. 

"7 p.m."  he answered.

I looked back at my phone. Still 6:55 p.m. Hmm.

On the field, Timon went three and out and Cardinal O'Hara scored on its first drive of the season as junior Robert Davis' touchdown run. He had another run that set up the score.

O'Hara had a nice pass play -- which featured some nice hitting by Timon -- early in the drive.

7:18 p.m. We're back in the car and heading to Hamburg for its opening night of refurbished Howe Field.

* * * 

 7:37 p.m. I talk myself into a side parking lot, which is key because this place is mobbed. There are purple-clad people walking everywhere. I see WNY football guru Dick Gallagher on the sidelines as well as Hamburg lacrosse coach Jerry Severino.

Williamsville East has a 6-0 lead on the host Bulldogs, but Hamburg gets a big sack just before I head to the car. The camera angle isn't great, but hey, it's a phone.

While I'm typing in my car, I hear Iroquois turn its game into a blowout against East Aurora, while Hamburg scored a touchdown to take a 7-6 lead on Will East.

7:58 p.m. I do some typing, and it's off to Orchard Park -- an update on WGR said the game is tied at 7-7 late in the first quarter. Looks like I should get moving.

8:02 p.m. Still posting stuff from my car when Hamburg scores a touchdown on an interception return and adds a two-point conversion for a 15-6 lead on Will East. Iroquois' lead on East Aurora is 25-0 late in the first half.

* * *

8:23 p.m. After a slowwwww drive to OP, I walk in and my timing is not great -- 42 seconds left in the second quarter with OP up, 14-7. I'm kicking myself for posting stuff at Hamburg instead of driving right here. 

I see two plays -- one is below, the final play of the half -- and I've gotta get going. I can afford to sit at the field for 15 minutes. Gotta get back to the office. Our first deadline is 10:15, so it is going to be super-tight getting games in the paper. 

8:49 p.m. After some posting, tweeting and Facebook-ing (see The Buffalo News' Prep Talk blog fan page), I'm heading back to the office. EA has scored a touchdown and is down, 25-7, at Iroquois.

* * *

I'm back in the office for what should be a crazy night.

Keep track of the high school scoreboard, where we'll get scores as soon as possible.

* * *

CRAZY night. OP wins in double overtime, Maple Grove wins at the wire. See details at our home page story.

* * *

The scene at Hamburg's refurbished Howe Field. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)Check out a photo gallery from opening night with images taken by The News' Mark Mulville, John Hickey and James P. McCoy.

* * * 

OK. It's well after midnight, but all of the games that were reported to us are in the main story -- for many games, there are details and statistics that we didn't have room for (or time for) in the paper.

* * *

Did you see a game tonight? Listen to one on the radio?

Let us know what you thought in the comments section below.

---Keith McShea

Big weekend on several fall fields

Football is obviously the big sport in the fall, but this opening weekend is even bigger when you consider the big events that are getting other seasons started.

* * *

In today's paper we mentioned two boys soccer events, the Clarence Tournament and the Coaches V. Cancer ECIC-NFL Challenge at Sweet Home. The Clarence event speaks for itself with top teams East Aurora, Nichols and Kenmore East visiting.

The Sweet Home event has organizers wondering aloud if it is the largest boys soccer event to be held in Western New York. With five games on Friday and five on Saturday, I can't think of anything of that scope.

It's a great format and a great cause. Officials will wear a commemorative shirt to honor former longtime Western New York official Tom Mingle, who passed away on Sept. 5, 2008. The officials -- who are donating all of their game fees to cancer research -- will make a presentation to Tom's family during halftime of the Sweet Home/North Tonawanda game at 12:45 p.m. Saturday.

The format of the event is two points for a win and one point for a tie; if the two leagues are tied the tiebreaker is fewest goals allowed.

Here's the lineup:

Friday's games
Sweet Home vs. Kenmore West, 2 p.m.
Wmsv. East vs. North Tonawanda, 4 p.m.
Wmsv. North vs. Niagara Falls, 4 p.m.
Wmsv. South vs. Lew-Port, 6 p.m.
Hamburg vs. Niagara-Wheatfield, 6 p.m.
Saturday's games
Wmsv. North vs. Lew-Port, 10 a.m.
Wmsv. East vs. Niagara-Wheatfield, 10 a.m.
Sweet Home vs. North Tonawanda, noon
Hamburg vs. Kenmore West, noon
Wmsv. South vs. Niagara Falls, 2 p.m.

Also, this afternoon is the first round for the Eden Kickoff Classic, which features the hosts meeting Springville and Pioneer taking on Roy-Hart; the winners meet Friday.

Friday just isn't opening night for football at Orchard Park, Rochester boys soccer power Aquinas will visit OP at 5 p.m.

Speaking of Aquinas, on Saturday the Little Irish host Canisius while the girls team hosts East Aurora.

* * *

Clarence also has a nice collection for its girls soccer tournament, held in conjunction with the boys. Friday's first-rounders are Nardin at Clarence and Nichols vs. Kenmore East.

Some nonleague girls soccer action Friday includes a great program showdown of Williamsville North at Grand Island as well as Williamsville South at North Tonawanda

* * *

Clarence just leads the league in big opening events -- the 23rd annual Clarence Invitational in boys volleyball includes a who's who of top teams in its 16-team field. Orchard Park, Canisius, Eden and St. Francis will be there. The tournament starts at 8 a.m.

Speaking of volleyball, the boys get some serious bump-set-spiking in tonight as OP -- which went undefeated last year -- opens against St. Francis at home at 7 p.m.

On Friday, Catholic girls state champion St. Mary's opens up at Victor of Section V (Rochester area) while Williamsville North is at Starpoint.

* * *

All that and even boys basketball (!) sneaking in with the Elia Tournament at Niagara Falls

---Keith McShea

WGR's full schedule of Friday night games

WGR's Web site states it will be broadcasting the following games on Friday nights:

Friday: East Aurora at Iroquois
Sept. 11: Williamsville North at North Tonawanda
Sept. 18: Depew at Maryvale
Sept. 25: Sweet Home at West Seneca East
Oct. 2: Orchard Park at Lancaster
Oct. 9: Iroquois at Williamsville South
Oct. 17 (Saturday): Kenmore East at Kenmore West

A quality lineup of games, and it's definitely cool to see high schools going primetime -- especially on a station where they high school sports talk has been quarantined to one hour on Saturday mornings for years.

Iroquois is a big winner with two games, but both are good matchups. The Monsignor Martin Association is a big loser with zero games, but it's somewhat understandable since there aren't any Friday nighters screaming for coverage. If GR is still doing games on Oct. 30, it might not be a bad, spread-the-wealth idea to go with the Monsignor Martin championship rematch of Canisius at St. Francis rather than a Section VI semifinal.

The list is a good mix of games, teams and areas, and it shouldn't be a surprise that the lineup consists of all Erie County teams other than just-across-the-bridge North Tonawanda. Randolph-Maple Grove is a great game for high school football fans, but GR wants to move the ratings needle, especially in a first-time venture like this.

---Keith McShea

WGR broadcasting EA at Iroquois on football's opening night

Anyone remember the last time a high school football game was given major-league, major-kilowatt treatment on Buffalo radio?

It's an intriguing question because WGR told us it will be broadcasting East Aurora at Iroquois at 7 p.m. on opening night -- Friday, Sept. 4.

---Keith McShea

East Aurora softball player goes south

Felicia Hulslander has plenty of softball ahead of her. The East Aurora High School graduate leaves next month for Division II West Liberty University in West Virginia. She will major in athletic training after signing a national letter of intent to play for the Hilltoppers.

Hulslander played for three seasons on the Blue Devils varsity. "She played a phenomenal first base her sophomore and junior seasons. When the team needed a shortstop this season, she stepped up and made the switch," said coach Dan Edholm.

Despite facing more difficult pitching after moving up to ECIC III, Hulslander had a big senior year. She led the team in batting (.380), hits (27), doubles (3), triples (4), home runs (2), walks (10) and assists (43). He made only 5 errors in 97 chances while playing shortstop.

She leaves EA having rewritten the softball record books. She ranks first in her career in the following categories: batting avg. (.444), hits (87), triples (11), home runs (5), runs batted in (47), and runs scored (57). She ranks second in doubles (13), stolen bases (35), walks (23), and putouts (302). She is tied for third all-time in assists (58). She was also a two-year captain.

--- Mary Jo Monnin

Maple Grove among NYSSWA's All-Sport champions

The New York State Sportswriters Association has come up with a great idea -- and some Section VI schools like Maple Grove are getting some all-around recognition because of it.

The NYSSWA today announced its inaugural All-Sport Championships, which measure New York State Public High School Athletic Association schools (that means no Catholic schools) by their across-the-board performances in state championships in all sports (boys and girls).

Maple Grove, which won the state football championship this year and advanced to the final four in boys basketball, shared the top spot in Class D with South Kortright. 

The only other two Section VI schools to make it into the top five were both in Class B: second-place East Aurora was just .33 behind Bronxville (37 points); Fredonia was fourth with 22 points.

Check out the NYSSWA's All-Sport Championships page, where it crowns Burnt Hills (which Sweet Home beat in the Class A football championship game) as its overall winner for amassing the most points. East Aurora's total was the fourth-highest overall.

There are breakdowns by boys and girls. For the boys, Orchard Park tied for first in Class AA, East Aurora was first and Southwestern tied for third in Class B and Maple Grove was first in Class D.

On the girls side, Class B East Aurora was second and Fredonia was fifth. Salamanca was fourth in Class C and Sherman was fifth in Class D.
 
---Keith McShea

Live from the state track meet: Four wins for Amherst's Fields

Ashley Fields stole the show on the girls’ side of the state track and field championships on Saturday.

The Amherst sophomore captured four golds -- two each in Division I and Federation. She broke her own Section VI record in the 200 meters with a time of 23.66. In that race, Fields made an improbable comeback on Columbus’ Whitney Fountain, who was a good five strides ahead of Fields with 50 meters to go.

With two years of high school still to go, Fields is the fastest girl in the state. “I was expecting this in maybe my junior or senior year,” Fields said. “Before this season, I was hoping to set PR’s and break school records -- not even the section record. I never would have thought I’d be a state champion in the 100 and the 200.”

Be sure to check out tomorrow’s paper for more on Fields’ miraculous day.

* * *


As Fields caught her breath and soaked in a refreshing breeze from the mist fan near the finish line after winning the 100, she saw Nichols’ Adele Jackson-Gibson in the corner of her eye. Fields walked over and fist-bumped her fellow Section VI sprinter.

Continue reading "Live from the state track meet: Four wins for Amherst's Fields" »

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

@KeithMcSheaBN | kmcshea@buffnews.com

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