Every week during the basketball season a panel of voters participates in The News' large and small school boys basketball polls.
And every week we let you know, like the title says ... how The News voted.
This is just one ballot -- there are nine other voters in each poll. This week's News poll is available via the high school home page.
It's a Super Week, and we're not talking about Sunday's football game. As you'll see throughout the blog, there are several big-time games this week -- there's even one on Super Bowl Sunday that is worth a bit of hype.
1. Niagara Falls (10-1) [last week: 1] -- The 100-18 win over Kenmore East revived calls for the Niagara Frontier League to allow Falls to play as an independent. I've said they should have remained that way since the 2005 Federation championship team.
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.
Hello from All High Stadium in Buffalo for the Section VI girls lacrosse championships. Class B gets us started with Lake Shore and Hamburg; Class C follows with six-time defending champion Amherst trying for a three-game season sweep of East Aurora at 5:30; at 8 p.m. six-time defending champion Lancaster takes on Frontier in the Class A showdown.
Great venue for all sports -- and it's a wonderful weather day for the action. Should be a great two days here as the boys championship tripleheader is tomorrow.
3:43 p.m. Lake Shore is off to a quick start, as Lauren Scanlan has three goals and the Eagles have a 4-1 lead with 20:13 left in the first half.
3:45 p.m. Another Scanlan goal, off a nice feed from Vivian Curry, makes it a 5-1 lead for Lake Shore.
3:49 p.m. Two quick goals from Hamburg cut it to 5-3, but another Scanlan goal on a breakaway makes it 6-3 Lake Shore with 16:04 left in the first half.
4:01 p.m. Timeout on the field with 11:01 left in the first half -- the players left their sticks in their places on the turf; ostensibly it is a water-break timeout mandated by officials. It is certainly a hot one here. Lake Shore has teh ball and its 6-3 lead.
4:03 p.m. A great feed from Curry from the right side, a great catch by Scanlan cutting down the middle, and she scores her sixth goal as Lake Shore goes up, 7-3, with 10:08 left in the first half.
4:05 p.m. Solo rush from the right side of the cage for Hamburg's Amanda Obenshain -- her second of the game -- make it 7-4 with 8:59 left in first.
4:07 p.m. Lake Shore answers that with a Curry goal inside to make it 8-4 with 7:56 left in the first half.
4:12 p.m. Obenshain takes a very nice feed from Taylor Wolff on the left doorstep of the cage and she scores to make it 8-5 with 4:08 left in the first half. That came just after a nice save by Lake Shore goalie Kachine Lay.
4:13 p.m. A draw control win and another goal by Obenshain, who made a few dodges in front of the cage before scoring and we're at 8-6 Lake Shore with 3:38 left in the first.
4:18 p.m. Big goal late for Lake Shore, who had been pressuring Hamburg but goalie Lauren Courteau came up with four nice saves in the final two minutes. Shelby Stevens then came up with a big steal of a Hamburg clear; she passed to Scanlan, who found a slashing Alie Jimerson for a nice catch and score for a 9-6 lead with 11.4 left.
4:22 p.m. We are at HALFTIME and Lake Shore leads Hamburg, 9-6.
Obenshain went down with an injury with 5.2 seconds left and was writhing on the field for a few moments before trotting off the field.
Lake Shore seems to be overpowering with Scanlan playing a big part of draw controls and the offense, but Hamburg continues to keep hanging around.
4:38 p.m. Curry comes back with her third goal to answer one by Obenshain; Lake Shore leads, 10-7, with 22:08 left.
4:42 p.m. Curry on a clear breakway from midfield -- she sprints to the cage and fires an overhead shot under the crossbar to make it 11-7; 30 seconds later Scanlan makes a great catch of a feed, then whirls in front of the cage to score for a 12-7 lead with 19:45 to go in the game.
4:44 p.m. Obenshian up the middle after a penalty and Hamburg pulls within 12-8 with 18:23 left.
4:45 p.m. Official-mandated water break with 18:18 left in the game and Lake Shore up, 12-8.
4:54 p.m. Hamburg got a great goal from Megan Mikolajek, who went coast-to-coast after a steal deep in the Hamburg end. ... but Curry scores two straight to push the Lake Shore lead to 14-9 with 14:18 left.
4:58 p.m. Lake Shore scores again as Scanlan fires it in for her eighth goal -- the lead is now 15-9 with 11:57 left and Hamburg takes a timeout.
5:03 p.m. Obenshain scores her seventh goal in front to make it a 15-10 lead for Lake Shore with 9:21 left.
5:04 p.m. Curry comes right back -- a familiar theme there for Lake Shore. She goes to the goal, has her shot stopped but she scoops up the rebound and fires it in for a 16-10 lead with 8:55 left.
5:08 p.m. Officials timeout for a water break with 6:22 left.
5:12 p.m. Hamburg cuts it to 16-11 with 5:56 left on Mikolajek's second goal.
5:13 p.m. Hamburg back to within four as Obenshain scores her eighth goal to make it 16-12 with 4:23 left.
5:15 p.m. As has happened many times today, Lake Shore comes up with a big goal just when Hamburg is thinking of making a game out of it. Kiersten Kennedy scoops up a loose ball on a turnover by Hamburg, goes to the goal and her backhand shot trickles over the line to make it 17-12 with 3:21 left.
5:18 p.m. Amanda Patrone scores on the doorstep for Hamburg to cut it to 17-13 with 2:30 left. Lake Shore's Melissa Haring was down on the play due to cramping. She remained down through an official timeout before walking to the bench.
5:23 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Lake Shore 17, Hamburg 13.
Lake Shore wins its first sectional title. Interview time for me.
And the Class B postgame show:
6:04 p.m. The Class C game is underway and Amherst, expectedly, jumps on top of East Aurora on an Ivy Timlin goal less than two minutes in.
6:06 p.m. EA ties it up on a Addie Ohler goal with 21:32 left in the 25-minute half.
6:12 p.m. Hmmmm. EA, which lost twice to Amherst during the regular season, gets another Ohler goal to take a 2-1 lead with 16:49 left.
6:15 p.m. EA scores again, with Victoria Budzyn scoring after a foul call right in front. EA takes a surprising 3-1 lead and Amherst calls a timeout with 15:13 left in the first half.
6:24 p.m. Amherst gets one back as Alana Rockoff wheels around from the right side to the left and scores to make it 3-2; that's followed by an officials timeout for a water break with 10:20 left in the first half.
6:29 p.m. Moments after a big save by EA's Rachel Hallnan, Katie Daminski scooted coast-to-coast, accelerating nicely in the Amherst half before scoring to push the Blue Devil lead to 4-2 with 7:32 left in the first half.
6:33 p.m. Alanna Rockoff scores 85 seconds after Sara Bischof and Amherst has tied it at 4-4 with 5:33 left in the first half; timeout EA.
6:38 p.m. Rockoff scores on a free shot in front -- moments after a yellow card was issued to an EA player after a collision -- to give Amherst its first lead of the game at 5-4 with 3:43 left in the first half.
6:40 p.m. Sophie Nieschur circles the cage, comes around the right side, waits a step against her defender and wheels and scores for a 6-4 lead.
6:43 p.m. After a nice save by EA goalie Hallnan, a scramble results in Sara O'Brien left open in front of the cage and she converts a pass to make it 7-4 Amherst with 1:12 left in the half.
6:46 p.m. At HALFTIME, Amherst leads East Aurora, 7-4.
Nice surge by Amherst to score the last five goals of the half; the last three came after the yellow card was issued to EA.
7:09 p.m. Amherst has kept rolling in the third quarter, scoring the first four goals to take an 11-4 lead with 18:42 left. I'm starting to write my story. Three games in one story and the Class A game is an 8 p.m. start, which puts us in a little deadline danger.
7:22 p.m. EA gets on the board but Amherst answers shortly thereafter as Ivy Timlin scores her fourth goal of the game to give the Tigers a 12-5 lead with 12:08 left.
7:26 p.m. A highlight goal from EA's Ohler, who goes coast to coast and finished it off by jumping to the left of the cage and shooting across her body to score at a very tough angle. Amherst's lead is 12-6 with 9:55 left.
7:33 p.m. EA gets two quick ones to cut it to 12-8 with 4:11 left. After Ashley Friess scored, Nikki Schneider scored right off the draw control win to cut the lead to 12-8.
7:39 p.m. Myriah Magaris with a goal off a free position shot for Amherst to make it 13-8 in the final minute.
7:40 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Amherst 13, East Aurora 8.
Seventh straight title for the Tigers, first for coach Kristy Grossman who took over for Janet Battaglia this year.
The Class C postgame show:
8:19 p.m. The Class A game has started with some great play -- by the goalies. Lancaster's Brooklyn Schilling and Frontier's Mia Wagner have exchanged saves on the first two trips by each team. Wagner then stopped two straight free position shots from near point-blank range. Whoa.
8:26 p.m. After some more great defense, Sarah Lorusso sprints in alone on a fast break and scores to put Frontier up, 1-0, with 14:14 left in the first half -- that's 10 minutes-plus of scoreless play, and it was very good stuff, not what you would automatically think of a scoreless start.
8:32 p.m. It is 2-0 Frontier as Ashley Bandt-Hunter loses the ball after a check, but then scoops it up and scoots to the goal to score on an overhand shot with 9:49 left in the first half.
8:38 p.m. We definitely have a situation here. Frontier's Lorusso scores again to give Frontier a 3-0 lead over the seven-time defending champions with 6:10 left in the first half. Lancaster called a timeout after the goal.
8:43 p.m. BIG goal for Lancaster as Alexis Ruggiero, a freshman midfielder, scores on a free position shot with a bounce shot that is the first to get by Wagner. Lancaster cuts the Frontier lead to 3-1 with 3:01 left in the first.
8:45 p.m. A big draw control violation gives the ball to Lancaster, and they capitalize as Brittany Delano scores to make it 3-2 with 1:54 left in first. Great surge here late in the half by the Redskins.
8:50 p.m. Frontier with several chances deep in Lancaster territory in the final minute, but Schilling made two big saves, one on a free position shot and one on a bang-bang pass play, and another free position shot went wide.
8:52 p.m. At HALFTIME, Frontier leads Lancaster, 3-2.
The low score is not a surprise considering the team's two meetings this year. Lancaster won both by scores of 5-4 and 9-5.
9:18 p.m. Working on my story so updating when I can.
Frontier made it 4-2 with 18:52 left on a transition play by Bandt-Hunter, who went coast to coast and fired it in after accelerating near the cage. The Falcons just made it 5-2 on another Bandt-Hunter goal with 12:22 left, prompting a Lancaster timeout.
9:33 p.m. Timeout Frontier with 3:31 left to play. Teams have exchanged goals in the last 23 seconds with Frontier leading, 6-3.
9:41 p.m. HUGE win for Frontier.
We have a FINAL SCORE: Frontier 6, Lancaster 3.
Lancaster's reign as Class A champions ends after six straight titles.
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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* Another of Eden's fab four seniors in volleyball, Katie Eschner, is headed to Roberts Wesleyan in suburban Rochester.
* Check out the bios of Willie Ruiz of Canisius and Matt Fox of Maple Grove, who are both playing football at Robert Morris.
* Read up on five locals heading to Gannon football: Ian Kennedy, Bishop Timon-St. Jude; Keith Bykowski and Matthew Hornung, Cheektowaga; Ryan Sweet, East Aurora and Jeff Bellanca, St. Joe's (also baseball).
* Amanda Serafini of Frontier softball is off to Davis & Elkins in Elkins, W. Va.
* Kyle McLain of Canisius will play baseball at Washington & Jefferson, which is ranked in the Division III top 25.
* Jamie Nash of JFK will play softball atop South Hill with the Ithaca College Bombers, ranked in the Division III national top 25.
Have an update to the list or information like is posted here? See the top of the college list page for guildelines and e-mail me.
Class AA has the defending state champion in Orchard Park, last year's runner up and many people's pick for this year in North Tonawanda, not to mention No. 1 large school Lancaster, plus a group of super-competitive teams.
Will OP repeat? Will NT break through? Will Lancaster hold on to the top spot? Will Frontier, Jamestown or Lockport prove as stingy as they've been in the regular season?
After a quick stop at All High Stadium and Maryvale, I'm live at the huge Class AA South showdown of Frontier at Lancaster, both of whom are ranked in our News large school top 10. Lancaster is No. 4 while Frontier is No. 9.
I'll provide updates (and maybe some video) here when I can.
7:35 p.m. We kick off on time and Frontier starts from its 22.
7:43 p.m. Froniter went three and out, then Lancaster did (after an offensive pass interference call nullified a big gain on first down), then Frontier fumbled on a simple pitch to give Lancaster the ball at the Frontier 38 with 8:40 left in the first.
7:45 p.m. The Redskins turned the turnover into points in just four plays. Cory Davis takes a handoff through a nice hole and is hardly touched for a 16-yard TOUCHDOWN. Frontier blocks the extra-point kick attempt and Lancaster has a 6-0 lead with 7:19 left in the first quarter.
7:58 p.m. Frontier put together a nice drive that included a fourth-and-1 conversion, but had to punt. The Falcons had what appeared to be a sure touchdown when senior quarterback Nate Geary had senior Matt Hauser wide open on the left side, but Hauser couldn't reel in the pass. They also had a big-play opportunity with the pass but it wasn't there after a receiver seemed to stop running.
8:03 p.m. At the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER, Lancaster leads Frontier, 6-0.
8:10 p.m. Lancaster's next drive ended with a punt on the second play of the second quarter; Frontier had its next possession end with an interception that was partially caused by Travis Pitzonka's blitz and hard hit on Geary. Kevin Schwach was waiting for the long pass for the interception.
8:23 p.m. Lancaster had its next drive end quickly with a fumble, and Frontier build the most impressive drive of the game to take the lead. The Falcons went 10 plays, finishing it off with Geary's keeper run to the right side from 3 yards out on first-and-goal. John Ronayne added the extra point and Frontier has a 7-6 lead with 2:44 left in the first half.
Here's a video of Frontier's touchdown.
8:33 p.m. That was plenty of time for Lancaster, which got a nice kickoff return by Zack Maryniewski to set the Redskins up at their 45. A screen from Justin Juda to Maryniewski on the left side gave Lancaster a first down on third-and-11; the 15-yard play moved Lancaster to the Frontier 15. On fourth-and-1 at the 6, Davis carried to the left side and pounded his way across the goal line wtih 13 seconds to play in the second quarter. Lancaster missed a two-point conversion run attempt; Lancaster has a 12-7 lead.
8:37 p.m. At HALFTIME, Lancaster leads Frontier, 12-7.
8:56 p.m. We have kicked off with the second half, and Lancaster fumbled it away to Frontier.
8:59 p.m. Lancaster's defense with a nice hold as they stop Frontier on fourth-and-5 at the Lancaster 29 as Andy Speyer dragged down Schuster (above). On second-and-8 at the Lancaster 32, Frontier had its second apparent touchdown turn into a dropped pass as Geary had an open senior David Peters but the ball bounced off his hands.
9:04 p.m. Davis does it again, pounding through tacklers on his way to a 17-yard TOUCHDOWN run. After senior Alex Debbins adds the extra point, Lancaster leads, 19-7, with 9:49 left in the third quarter.
NOTE: I've got a 10:15 p.m. deadline so I'll be doing a lot of writing for the paper, so the updates may be few and far between. This helps me with my notes for the story so I'll at least have something describing any scoring plays.
9:18 p.m.Lancaster now leads, 19-13. On fourth-and-goal at the 1, senior Mark Schuster went up and over the left side of the line for the TOUCHDOWN.
9:26 p.m. Juda goes back to pass on second down, then takes what the defense gives him and scoots up the middle for a 23-yard TOUCHDOWN run. After a Michael Theuerkauf extra point, Lancaster has a 26-13 lead with 22 seconds left in the third quarter.
9:29 p.m. At the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, Lancaster leads, 26-13.
10:02 p.m. Nothing to update for the last half hour because there's been nothing to update -- plus I've been writing my story. Lancaster still has its 13-point lead and the game is in the final minute.
10:05 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Lancaster 26, Frontier 13. Off to do interviews and drive back to the office.
Check out the High School Extra for a busy Wednesday of fall sports. Here are some extra notes from around the fields:
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Williamsville North field hockey coach Kris LaPaglia has the Spartans firing on all cylinders early this season. The latest example: an 8-0 domination of Holland.
"We're working well as a team right now and we have a lot of kids who can be offensive threats," LaPaglia said.
Playing that role Wednesday was junior Alley Ahern, who had four goals.
"This is a big year for her," LaPaglia said. "She's been with me for a couple of years now and her game has really improved. Her skill level is very high."
Nikki Atkins added a hat trick and backup sophomore goalie Alayna Wageman got the shutout. The Spartans are now 4-0 on the season.
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In girls soccer action, Jackie April had the game-winning goal midway through the second second half as Orchard Park stayed unbeaten at 3-0 in ECIC I with a 2-1 win over Frontier.
Nichols senior Bri Smith had all five goals in her team's 5-0 shutout of Sacred Heart in Monsignor Martin action. Smith now has 19 goals in seven games after scoring 59 a season ago. Bethany Novak and Meaghan Heldwein split the shutout in goal for the Vikings (6-1).
The education of the Western New York high school football fan continues tonight.
Will Orchard Park have another close one? Can Cardinal O'Hara head to the Southtowns and knock off St. Francis?
Will Frontier, North Tonawanda, Iroquois and Hamburg continue their winning ways among large schools?
Who will get the first win in the Harvard Cup?
The kickoff of the Buffalo Public Schools' Harvard Cup, which has Hutch-Tech taking on Grover Cleveland at All High Stadium, is the first of 25 games that will be kicked off tonight as Week Two gets started. You can listen to the first Intense Milk Harvard Cup Game of the Week at 5 p.m. at WJJL (1440 AM), WJJL.com or via the National High School Broadcast Network.
The Williamsville North at North Tonawanda game is on WGR (550 AM).
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. We also have a fan page at Facebook -- just search "The Buffalo News' Prep Talk blog" -- and you'll get updates with links to our high school sports stories.
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6:04 p.m. It's the start of our football night, but we've already been way up to Middleport for research on a girls volleyball story which features Roy-Hart (and there were tons of purple-football-jersey-wearing Ram fans walking around. I was also over at Canisius High to check out a few plays from their boys volleyball match that officially opened the school's new field house.
We watched some late second-quarter action of Hutch-Tech against Grover Cleveland in the Harvard Cup opener, including a touchdown and two-point conversion that gave the Engineers a 14-8 lead over Grover at halftime.
The scoring drive began with an interception by Tech (above), which then drove down the field and got a 7-yard TD run (below) by senior Antae Miller, who stretched out the ball ahead of him and jusssst broke the plane for the score.
Tech added a two-point conversion on a pass. I've got video of those plays and will get them up soon.
Tech scored first on a rushing touchdown by senior quarterback Mark Horne. Grover scored on a wild play in which senior tight end Dontay Byrd caught a pass that was deflected and then ran 64 yards for the touchdown.
We're writing this from the new press box at All High Stadium -- that's right, the new press box. It has been built behind the stands. The old one is still on the stadium roof, and the stairway leading to it remains boarded off and guarded full-time. I just shake my head when I think about that stairway.
The new press box is a good one, a decent space with a tables and electrical hookups, with a good view of the action despite some pillars in front of us.
With a bunch of games starting at 7 and 7:30 p.m. in the Southtowns, I'm going to get my fill down there -- I think I'll start at St. Francis, but there are games at Frontier, Hamburg, Lackawanna and Orchard Park as well. We'll see.
I'm heading to the parking lot and turning on the radio broadcast of this game.
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7:01 p.m. We're in the St. Francis parking lot and just posted some video highlights from the Harvard Cup game. Hutch-Tech still leads and the awesome Harvard Cup radio crew is letting an official have it for throwing a celebration flag on Grover after a big touchdown. "That's the worst call I've ever seen!" said Hall of Fame coach Art Serotte. Grover scores on the two-point conversion to go up, 22-20, on Tech. Great stuff. O'Hara-St. Francis just kicked off. I'm headed to the sidelines.
7:07 p.m. Holey crud. While I fixed some blog stuff, Cardinal O'Hara returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown (I believe that's how they scored -- there were 15 seconds gone on the scoreboard) and has a 7-0 lead on the host Red Raiders. I gotta get out of the car.
7:25 p.m. Back in the car and hitting up google for "iPhone reboot" after our phone went kaput. Ugh. It was fine in the car, then I got to the field and it was dead. Uh-oh.
On the radio, I just heard a riled-up Rick Kozak hollering that Grover beat Tech, 28-20. Quite the opener there. I kind of feel bad I don't have any Grover highlights here, but it was all Tech there at the end of the first half.
7:31 p.m. Thank you, apple.com. A reboot and we're fine. It appeared that a little piece of fuzz or paper got stuck in the slot where you put the battery in and maybe shorted it out or something. Oh well. We're back up and running and we're headed to another game.
I don't have any video or pictures, but St. Francis and O'Hara are tied at 7-7. It turns out that O'Hara scored on its first play of scrimmage, an 80-yard run by -- I believe -- Robert Davis. St. Francis answered with a very pretty play facing a fourth-and-9 at the O'Hara 19 as senior quarterback Michael Chuchia put up a pretty pass in the right corner for senior Roland Kerr, who made the grab with plenty of room for his feet to land in the end zone. Very nice play. There is 7:46 left in the second quarter.
Too many games and not a lot of time, so I'm outta here.
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7:39 p.m. I park far away from Frontier's far-away field, run through three parking lots (hey, it's good exercise) and I hear the PA announcer getting excited because Mark Schuster just scored on a 56-yard touchdown run -- but I'm still far away from the far-away field. Whoops. The Falcons take a 7-0 lead on West Seneca West.
7:54 p.m. I leave Frontier after seeing the Falcons on a nice defensive series (including the big sack above). I'd expect them to add to their lead, although the Falcons failed on a series just before I left. I think I'm headed to Hamburg next
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8:03 p.m. Whoops again. Hamburg is at halftime with a 13-3 lead over Grand Island -- looks like a great game, but halftime just started and there's 15 minutes on the clock. I'm outta here. North to Lackawanna we go.
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8:27 p.m. Whoa. I arrive and Lackawanna is down, 14-6, to Pioneer in the second quarter.
Pioneer was deep in Lackawanna territory, but the Steelers stopped a run (above) and got a big sack (below) to get some key field position back.
Pioneer called a timeout, but I don't have any time to spare. I run back to the parking lot -- where I parked illegally -- and head to Orchard Park.
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8:49 p.m. I'm guessing OP is now in the third quarter. I'm here, but in the car doing some updating via my laptop. I gotta head to the office at about 9:15 p.m. at the latest.
9:02 p.m. The good news is that WGR is doing high school football. The bad news is that they picked North Tonawanda's home game against Williamsville North, which was a blowout waiting to happen.
And it sure happened. NT went up, 49-0, at the halftime. It just went final: NT wins, 63-0. Yikes.
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9:18 p.m. I'm hitting the road after Orchard Park took a 28-10 lead over Jamestown on a touchdown run (below) by Okoya Anderson which came on the last play of the third quarter. He had a nice gain a play earlier (above) just after OP stopped Jamestown on downs in OP territory.
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9:36 p.m. Back in the office and ready to write. Stay tuned.
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10:32 p.m. Our scoreboard is getting updated by the minute.
As for the games I stopped by, it just proves the old adage: you can't tell a game by the two minutes of game action you see :-)
When I left All High, Hutch-Tech seemed OK with a lead. When I left St. Francis, it was a tie game. When I left Frontier, it was a one-touchdown lead. When I left Lackawanna, Pioneer was up and the Steeler sideline seemed to be getting nervous.
Six football games from about 5:30 to about 9:15 p.m. I've said it before, I'll say it again: I love my job.
But I'm tired. Good night.
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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 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.