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Boys hoops rescheduled games

A few schedule changes to pass along, including this weekend's United Way Tournament at Jamestown which was snowed out in early December.

Friday's first round is intact, as Maple Grove takes on Section V power Newark (and UB recruit Javon McCrea) at 6 p.m. with Jamestown meeting Fredonia at 7:45. The Saturday pairings have been moved up: the consolation game is at 4:15 with the final following at 6 p.m.

Depew has shuffled some games due to some weather: The Wildcats will host Pioneer on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m. as the second half of a boy-girl doubleheader; Depew is at Pioneer on Tuesday, Jan. 26; Depew hosts Springville on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

The changes have been reflected in our master schedule.

As the notice states on that file, if there are rescheduled games in any sport, please notify The News at For boys basketball games, please copy me on the email at

---Keith McShea

Jamestown tourney among rescheduled games

Jamestown boys basketball's United Way Tip-Off, which was postponed due to last weekend's snowy and windy weather, has been rescheduled for Jan. 8-9, 2010.

The lineup -- Friday, Jan. 8: Maple Grove vs. V-Newark, 6 p.m.; Fredonia at Jamestown, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9: Consolation, 6 p.m.; championship, 7:30 p.m.

The Orchard Park at Jamestown game, originally scheduled for Friday, Jan. 8, has been rescheduled to Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010.

OP also rescheduled its game with Hamburg that was snowed out last Thursday -- it will be played Monday, Jan. 11.

Please report any rescheduled games to The News as soon as possible. Email AND Thanks.

---Keith McShea

Jamestown hoops tip-off postponed; Cataract Classic games are on

The United Way Tip-Off Basketball Tournament hosted by Jamestown -- which featured an outstanding field of Newark, Maple Grove and Fredonia -- has been postponed after school was canceled today due to the snowy weather in the Southern Tier. According to Jamestown coach and athletic director Ben Drake, the tournament will be rescheduled but perhaps not until January.

All games for this weekend's excellent Cataract Classic at Niagara Falls are still on. See the season schedule here.

---Keith McShea

Who's going to win Class C football?

The field is set, the only question is -- can anyone stop Southwestern? The defending state champions are No. 1 in the small school poll, but can they survive Section VI? North division tough guys Eden and Cleveland Hill both potentially stand in their way.

As with all of our polls, we want to hear how and why you voted. Let us know in the comment space below.

Be sure to vote in all of the polls: Class AA, Class A, Class B and Class D.

---Keith McShea

More from cross country

I wrote a story about this season's proliferation of eighth-graders succeeding in girls cross country for today's Scholastic Spotlight.

Here are some additional notes on the eighth-graders as well as notes on all sorts of cross country topics:

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Among the top 18 at the 15-team Bemus Point Invitational were more eighth graders (five) than seniors (four).

Caroline Benson of Maple Grove won the race, while two other fellow eighth-graders were teammates … Emma Verdonik (fifth) and Abby Sirwatka (18th). Falconer's Kirsten Holmberg was third and Fredonia's Micaela Tramuta was 11th.

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Kiki Dy is an accomplished swimmer who came to the Newfane program from field hockey, while Sarah Ziemba and twins Kelly and Kate Bocknewetch all excelled in modified track and cross country last year.

Dy "fell into our lap," said Newfane coach Mike Heitzenrater. "Because of the way our league is run in swimming, with the girls competing in the winter, she could never qualify for states. So she said, "I want to do cross country and get to the states.' "

The youngsters have meshed well with senior Bethany Dewey and juniors Erin Hannah and Amy Lanighan.

It may have helped that Newfane had a significant amount of spots to fill in its lineup after graduating much of its team last year.

Continue reading "More from cross country " »

How The News voted: Preseason practice

The actual poll starts next week, so this, just like everything in high school football the past two weeks, is just practice. That's right, we're talkin bout practice.

So much so that -- hours after we submitted a top 10 list for publication in the paper -- we have second thoughts about a bunch of this top 10, particularly the large schools. If most polls should be taken with a grain of salt, this one should be taken with 1/10th of a grain. 

One final look back is here with the 2008 final poll, and here's our 2009 look forward:

1. Orchard Park (13-0 last year) [last year's final poll: 1] - A no-brainer to end last year, a no-brainer to start this year. 

2. Sweet Home (13-0) [2] - They might not be the state championship-caliber team they were a year ago (last year's depth was phenomenal), but we still like them here.

3. North Tonawanda (9-1) [3] - A lot back from a team that gave OP a tough test. You could argue they could be No. 2. Preseason-wise, we clearly see the top three, then a bunch of more teams.

4. Iroquois (8-2) [9] - Call it scrimmage bias after being fairly impressed with them on their Field of Dreams. After how low I voted them last year, they shouldn't be up this high. But certainly a great year-after-year program that should be in the top 10.

5. Lancaster (6-3) [7] - Speaking of great year-after-year, here's another top 10 team. We eagerly await the battles of AA South.

6. St. Francis (4-6) [4] - They beat Canisius when it counted last year, so we gave them a slight edge here, as we did in last year's final poll. Yet another top program which should be in the mix. Another murderous schedule this year.

7. Canisius (6-4) [5] - On paper they lost a lot, but so did they teams ahead of them. Proof that Nos. 4-7 in this poll could be interchangable. This year their schedule might be just as murderous as Frannies' (both play Ohio's St. Ignatius, Rochester's Aquinas and Pennsylvania's Cathedral Prep).

8. Riverside (10-1) [6] - The Harvard Cup champions kept a lot of talent and welcomed top lineman Sean Mulhern of Canisius. With no nonleague games for Harvard Cup teams this year, it's pure guesswork how they stack up against the rest of Western New York. Talk about a poll headache. 

9. Kenmore West (6-3) [8] - Here's a nod to the Blue Devils playing OP tough in the postseason (two losses at OP, one at NT). We err on the side of what you did last year, rather than offseason hype, and we reserve the right to change our mind once the teams hit the field :-).

10. Williamsville South (6-4) [NR] - A whole lot back from last year's team, so we'll throw the Billies in this spot, slightly edging out Grand Island, a top 10 team that's not in the top 10 (I have Frontier right after that at 12, for what it's worth). And well, would you look at this: Saturday afternoon -- Williamsville South at Grand Island.

Small schools

1. Southwestern (13-0) [2] - Too many weapons back to not be in this spot.

2. Maple Grove (13-0) [1] - All signs point to these two being atop the poll for a while. But I guess that's why they play the games.

3. Lackawanna (10-1) [3] - We'll keep the Steelers up high despite the loss of Capone Smith. Like Iroquois, this might be a case of seeing Lackawanna scrimmage (and scrimmage well). 

4. Fredonia (8-2) [4] - Another slot-them-in-from-last-year, although this year's schedule (C) might hurt them in the polls (to the bunch at B).

5. Cleveland Hill (8-1) [7] - A bunch back from a team that was a top three program last year until losing to Silver Creek in last year's semis.

6. Depew (6-3) [9] - When in doubt, rank the teams that are usually ranked.

7. Alden (8-1) [5] - Might be generous considering what they lost in graduation.

8. Cardinal O'Hara (6-4) [10] - Four Monsignor Martin small school titles in a row make them one of the best small schools. They looked it on Scrimmage Saturday, too.

9. Randolph (6-3) [NR] - Could make some noise Friday night at Maple Grove.

10. Cheektowaga (4-5) [NR] - You'd think these guys will be in the top 10 after dropping down from Class A. We shall see -- starting Friday when the Warriors host high-powered Medina

Our small-school poll regret? Probably not making room for Burgard. We'll call them the small school version of Grand Island (the 11th top 10 team).

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

Also, visit here Wednesday for a live chat with yours truly at 7 p.m.

---Keith McShea

Preparing for preview with our own two-a-days

Orchard Park runs through some offensive drills. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

Photographer Mark Mulville and I are hitting the road today to get some work done for our football season preview in all sorts of ways -- we're recording interviews and taking pictures and videos at practices that will provide the material for my story, his pictures and our Web video.

OP's state championship sign is complete. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) I'm working on a story for Tuesday's high school season preview section that focuses on the four state champions (shocker). We've managed to schedule stops at all four defending champs for today. Our morning session consisted of a starting at Orchard Park before heading up to rainy Sweet Home. The second half of our two-a-day practice will be on the Southern Tier when we stop by Southwestern and Maple Grove.

Rain made Sweet Home's practice a muddy one. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)The weather was fine for the start of OP's 9 a.m. practice, with the sun hiding behind some overcast clouds. The practice started with a team meeting before the Quakers went into offensive groups.

Before practice I took a phone-photo of the now-complete state championship decoration on the maroon building next to OP's field. When I stopped by for the first day of practice, I snapped a picture of it for the blog and also wrote about in my story.

Then it was north to Sweet Home, where rain provided a wet drive. There was a steady drizzle for the last portion of the Panthers' first session of the day, which ended around 11 a.m. 

We're headed South in a little bit -- more to come later.

* * *

Let's just say we didn't pick the best day for a photo/video shoot.

We kept driving and it kept raining.

It was raining as we got off the Thruway and drove past Fredonia High's fields. It was raining as Mulville -- a Fredonia native and a Hillbilly alum -- took some backroads shortcuts. It was raining as we approached Chautauqua Lake and drove through Jamestown to Lakewood, the home of Southwestern. 

With the rain making it tough to do on-camera interviews, we talked to Southwestern coach Jay Sirianni and returning players Zack Sopak and Jason Carlson in the Trojans' weight room. The room is adorned with several motivational signs and posters, including one that you just might be reading about in Tuesday's preview story.  

The Trojans practiced on the grass practice field rather than their less-than-a-year-old turf stadium. The team started off with a lengthy set of sprints after which Sirianni would call out the times, then went right into a goal-line-type drill in which one ball carrier attempted to get past three tacklers. There were some tremendous hits punctuated by some priceless pad-popping sounds.

Southwestern is Trojan Tough, and is trying to remember to forget last year's title. There was also a sign of why Southwestern football has such great tradition. On a field adjacent to the varsity, a crew of what had to be modified players assembled. They appeared to all be half the size of Carlson, but they were going through a calisthenic exercise -- by themselves, led by captains and not a coach.

In between our two Southern Tier stops, Mulville provided me with a fine Southern Tier eating experience at Johnny's Lunch.

This place earned points right away when I saw the menu sign not only offered three (any combination of hot dogs and hamburgers) for $3.23, but it went all they way up to "60 for $62.93." I went with the one hot dog and one hamburger combo, both with Johnny's "everything," which meant onions, mustard and Johnny's special sauce, which is a meaty deal which is quite gravy-like. It was yummy.

Johnny's was kicking the old-school diner feel inside -- quite authentic since Johnny's Lunch has been around since 1936. Plus three TVs, great info about the history of the franchise on the walls (and tables), and a friendly.

Lunch at Johnny's Lunch. Yum. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) There is a McDonald's directly across the street and a Burger King not too far away. I've been known to frequent those establishments from time to time, but if you go there instead of Johnny's, you best have a good reason.

I had never been to Southwestern, and also had never been to Maple Grove. On our drive up the hill to -- as the sign at the bottom of the hill says -- "Maple Grove Junior-Senior High School,"  I saw the football field and what must be an outstanding atmosphere on Friday nights.

We talked to Maple Grove coach Curt Fischer as well as returning standouts Chris Secky and Matt Fox. Maybe it was me, or maybe it was perhaps because Maple Grove had its JV on hand, but it seemed like Maple Grove had more players on its field than Southwestern did.

Like Southwestern, Maple Grove had some pad-popping hitting going on.

Speaking of, here's the quick -- very quick -- debut of PrepTalkTV (now available at YouTube):

The light drizzle necessitated some umbrella use over the video camera, but soon we were done with interviews, shot a "stand-up" (TV term) by yours truly that will close out the video piece, and we were on our way.

It wasn't until we hit Angola -- a few minutes ago at around 6:15 p.m. -- that we saw the sun all day. I'll be hitting the office to wring out my notebook and start to put together the goods for Tuesday's preview.

---Keith McShea

2009 football schedule is up, and it's good

Our 2009 master football schedule has been posted. Every week, every team, every league.

Well, we're missing just a handful of things that we know of: we need a full schedule from Niagara Catholic, some schools which had scheduled Brocton and Walsh will have to reschedule due to those schools not fielding teams, and we may be missing some nonleague games for Harvard Cup teams. 

Coaches/athletic directors are stressed to get us any information we are missing, and also to let us know of any changes in date, time, site or opponent as soon as possible via, or 849-4461.

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Make a note of this: The football schedule is linked at the top of our high school home page for quick reference.

* * *

At a first glance, I'm impressed by the number of public-private games on the schedule, including Jamestown at Canisius and Southwestern at St. Mary's in Week Three and Fredonia at Cardinal O'Hara in Week Five.

The game that may have jumped out at me the most was Sweet Home at Iroquois in Week Five -- that's been a usual postseason matchup of two teams which had been in separate divisions in the now-combined Class A.

It's great to see Orchard Park going outside its league for a nonleague game! Although it is paired up wiht a Section V school (Victor) rather than one from the Monsignor Martin Association. Sigh. 

But that's just to kick things off. I'll certainly have more to say once we get closer to the season.

---Keith McShea

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

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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.

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