Just in from a trip up north to the Cataract Classic, where I was very impressed with Middle College in a 52-43 win over Grand Island.
The performance wasn't the Kats best, but I like the way they smartly and consistently worked the ball inside to Sean Mulhern (who was named MVP) and kept a patient -- even is-this-really-a-Yale-Cup-team? slow at times -- tempo. Darale Young displayed the unselfishness I'd heard about from fellow hoop fans, Mulhern was literally huge down low with post moves, rebounds and putbacks, Justin Stokes and Davon Alexander were solid as usual.
Middle College had some active contributors on both ends as well, including 6-2 sophomore Cordell Torres.
Sweet Home was up huge on North Tonawanda thanks to a 12-1 run to end the second quarter and a 17-5 third -- that's when I left.
I'll pass along the final when we get it, as well as some notes on what was an interesting clash between state championship football schools -- with plenty of the players involved. I'll also have some videos to post at some point. There's a lot of Web work to be done on All-Western New York football so I'm not sure when I'll get them up.
From Middle College's win over GI, which got some great play from senior guard Bobby Ross that kept the Vikings in the game ...
An early three by Young.
Nice quick outlet feed by Alexander sends Stokes in for a layup.
As it is every year, it was great to see many familiar faces as well as some cool early-season basketball matchups at the Pastor-Cooper Tournament at Daemen College.
A private school played a city school in both boys games. How about that, football people? :-)
The final game was a fun one, with St. Mary's edging East, 62-59. Domonique Jackson of East and Vince Kazmierczak of St. Mary's both drew plenty of oohs and aahs from an entertained crowd.
St. Mary's looked fantastic at the start (18-9 first quarter and 36-26 at halftime) with Kazmierczak dropping several sweet long-distance shots. Jackson displayed his all-around talents as East caused several turnovers in a game that took on the frenetic pace of a Yale Cup contest.
Sophomore guard Rashaad Rogers was impressive for the Lancers with several strong takes to the basket; some times it appeared he was on the verge of going out of control, but often times he finished off the play.
Late in the third there was a flagrant foul on a St. Mary's player for a blatant body check in open space at midcourt. The foul was totally unnecessary, correctly called, and prompted some East fans to get very fired up and leave their seats. They were just venting, and they had reason to.
Lockport sr. RB David Fluellen, Lancaster sr. QB Justin Juda, Grand Island sr. RB Andy LaLonde, Williamsville South jr. QB Joe Licata, Sweet Home sr. QB Pat McMahon, Cassadaga Valley sr. RB/DB B.J. Monacelli, St. Joe's sr. QB/DB Matt Rosenhahn, Maple Grove sr. QB Chris Secky, Iroquois sr. RB/DB Calvin Sluberski and Southwestern sr. QB Zack Sopak.
Tell us why you voted the way you did in the comments section below. Also, what do you think of the list? Who's not on the list that should be?
Remember to be RESPECTFUL of ALL of the players because they all had a great seasons.
I'll be keeping my thoughts to myself for now since we are deliberating the All-Western New York team.
The winner will be announced Wednesday, Dec. 9 at the Lancaster Elks Lodge No. 1478, which is the sponsor of the award. It is located at 33 Legion Parkway, Lancaster.
Reserve tickets are available by calling
the Lancaster Elks at 685-1478 or by calling Carl Kuras at 698-1893.
Doors open at 6 p.m. and dinner will follow at approximately 6:30 p.m.
The cost per ticket is $20.
As always, another great job by the Trench Trophy committee to honor high school athletes. This award is a result of a lot of people doing a lot of hard work and they should be commended for adding another tradition to high school football in Western New York.
The Riverside Athletic Club's Connolly Cup committee has announced its 10 finalists for the award given to the most outstanding football player in Western New York:
David Fluellen, Lockport
Justin Juda, Lancaster
Andy LaLonde, Grand Island
Joe Licata, Williamsville South
Patrick McMahon, Sweet Home
B.J. Monacelli, Cassadaga Valley
Matt Rosenhahn, St. Joe’s
Chris Secky, Maple Grove
Calvin Sluberski, Iroquois
Zack Sopak, Southwestern
The winner will be announced, as always, on the first Saturday of December (the fifth) in a ceremony at Ilio DiPaolo's Restauraunt in Blasdell.
A reminder to all that any discussions about who should win the award, or about players who should have made the the top 10, should be respectful. Thanks.
Below is my live blog from the instant-classic, 23-20 victory by Grand Island at Williamsville South Friday night.
It includes videos that I added later. Some of my comments -- the ones entirely in bold -- I added later as well.
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Hello from a very, very wet press box and field at Williamsville South, where the Billies host Grand Island in a big-time Section VI quarterfinal in Class A.
6:57 p.m. This will be interesting. I have the laptop on my lap (go figure) because the rain is coming in the front windows of the press box. I need to see out the window, so we'll just deal with it. Not sure how I'll keep notes too. Should be fun :-)
7:04 p.m. We've kicked off and GI takes over at its 33.
7:05 p.m. Will South standout quarterback Joe Licata is warming up on the sideline with two kids nearby drying balls off with towels.
7:07 p.m. After a punt by GI's Joel Klock and a good roll, South takes over at its 20.
7:12 p.m. Grand Island stops Will South on a fourth-and-3 from its 38 as Licata hits Coppola in the left flat but GI swarmed him and takes over at its 36 (below).
7:17 p.m. Grand Island scores a TOUCHDOWN on a huge passing play from quarterback Joel Klock to Pat Gallagher, who ran a crossing route from the left side, receiving the ball over the middle and ran down the right sideline for the score. Two South defenders appeared they may have collided during the pattern. Nate Benoit hits a low, hard extra point up and through and GI has a 7-0 lead.
7:24 p.m. Will South on a nice drive, which started at its 25. Tyler Krempa had a 43-yard run to give South a first-and-goal and it faces a fourth down at the 6.
7:26 p.m. On fourth-and-goal, South initially set up in field goal formation, then spread out and called timeout. South then came out in a normal formation and Licata hit Krempa on the right side for a TOUCHDOWN to cut the Grand Island lead to 7-6. Krempa's extra point attempt was hit well but was apparently wide right.
7:32 p.m. We are at the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER and Grand Island has its 7-6 lead and faces a fourth-and-2 at the Will South 12. GI appeared to fumble the last play and South appeared to come up with the ball, but officials gave the ball to GI. GI came out to run the crucial play but coach Dean Santorio called a timeout.
7:38 p.m. That fourth down play was indeed crucial -- Dillon Gallagher of South reached up and plucked a screen pass for an interception he returned all the way to the GI 11 (below).
South couldn't convert, however, as Licata just missed connecting with Coppola on third down and Stasiak on fourth (below).
7:47 p.m. GI took over on its 10 on the ensuing possession but punted (a good one by Klock); South took over at its own 18 and would punt from its 33; Grand Island takes over at its 30.
7:51 p.m. GI calls a timeout with 3:23 left in the second quarter facing a third-and-4 at the South 42.
8:07 p.m. We are at HALFTIME and Grand Island leads Williamsville South, 7-6.
The last thing we saw was potentially very bad news for South: Licata was down for a good minute or two after the final play of the half -- an incomplete heave by Licata from his own 30 -- and he limped off the field for the halftime break.
An update since the 7:51 posting: GI had to punt but Klock unleashed another nice one to pin South at its own 2; South went three and out and Licata's punt rolled to South's 31. GI couldn't cash in on the possession, as a 34-yard field goal attempt missed badly in the rainy, muddy conditions. South took over and didn't move much in three plays, the last of which might be very painful if Licata is hurt.
8:26 p.m. We're back with the second half -- GI kicked off a grounder that was tricky but reeled in by South. Licata appears to still be limping.
8:28 p.m. South's first drive is a three and out. Licata's punt leaves GI to set up at its own 30. This a one-point game but it doesn't feel like it right now.
8:36 p.m. South takes over at its 12 after Grand Island's possession fizzles -- a big part of that was a big sack by Krempa that put GI in a third-and-18 after a second-and-8.
8:41 p.m. South scores a TOUCHDOWN to take the lead, 12-7. On first down at the Grand Island 40, Krempa took a handoff to the left side, followed some blocks for a nice gain, then did some seriously nice cutbacks as he went the distance for the touchdown. He alternately sped up and put on the brakes on some cutbacks, then sped down the left sideline. Krempa couldn't run it in up the middle on the two-point conversion, however.
8:46 p.m. Grand Island has answered very nicely with a TOUCHDOWN with 57 seconds left in the third quarter. On first-and-goal at the 6, Lalonde bulled and churned his way to the end zone, following his line and then pushing it forward as he worked his way over the goal line (below).
The two-point conversion fails (below) when Michael Lang drags down Lalonde. Grand Island leads, 13-12.
8:49 p.m. South takes a timeout before its first play, a first down at its 34 with 52 seconds left in the third. That could prove costly -- the only good news for South is that GI had to spend a timeout before its conversion attempt.
8:53 p.m. At the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, Grand Island has a 13-12 lead at Williamsville South.
8:56 p.m. We have quite the game here. Williamsville South now leads, 20-13. Coppola took an end around from the left side and sped to open space on the right, making a sweet cutback inside the 5 to gain the end zone with 11:53 left in the fourth.
9:09 p.m. We have a tie game: Grand Island 20, Williamsville South 20. Lalonde finished off a long, impressive drive with a 2-yard run with 6:47 left in the game -- or should I say regulation.
Here's part of what made the drive impressive -- a third-and-10 pass from Klock to Pat Gallagher.
Here's another -- a 16-yard pass to Gallagher that gave GI a first-and-goal at the 6.
And here's LaLonde's TD run.
And here's Benoit's solid PAT kick to tie the game.
9:26 p.m. What a game. Too much going on for updates. There is 43 seconds left in regulation and GI faces a fourth-and-8 at the Will South 46.
Below is the muffed punt that was recovered by LaLonde to set GI up at the South 48 with 1:25 left. Sorry about the poor audio. I think my hand was covering the microphone.
Below is the outstanding fourth-and-8 pass by Klock to Steve Vitello.
Below is another outstanding throw by Klock, I believe again to Vitello. Play-by-play -- on this and many other plays -- brought to you by WGR's Brian Koziol.
9:30 p.m. Grand Island's Nate Benoit just kicked a 42-yard FIELD GOAL -- in the rain! -- to put Grand Island up, 23-20, with :07 on the clock. Unbelievable.
9:37 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Grand Island 23, Williamsville South 20.
A zany finish which included a penalty after South tried a crazy lateral-filled play on its final play. A flag was thrown on Grand Island for too many men on the field. South got one final play from the Grand Island 31, and Licata got off a heave to an apparently open Coppola in the end zone. Defenders flocked to Coppola, and it appeared that there may have been contact in the end zone -- but there was no flag. South fans and players were protesting in a major way but there was no penalty. The rain picked up and Grand Island celebrated.
Time for a lot of work for me. More to come.
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Below is South's lateral play. You can hear the horn sound early in the play. The official on the right throws the flag after players came off the sideline. I think I counted eight or nine laterals. The video is 55 seconds and the play was nearly as long.
Below is the announcement of the penalty. I edited the video down. It took a while.
Below is the final play of the game, which occurs in the far side of the end zone, but you can certainly hear several people in the South press box react ("interference!") the same way the South sideline reacted, and you see coach Kraig Kurzanski head towards the officials as they walked off the field.
* * *
Klock on the end of the game
An interview with Benoit after the game -- in the rain, by the bus. It's "pretty cool."
Class A has been a blast to keep track of all year with its talented teams and unbalanced schedule, and the next three weeks are sure to be fun as well.
Right from the start there are tremendous games as West Seneca East heads to Iroquois and WIlliamsville South hosts Grand Island in a rematch of an excellent Week One game won by South. Hamburg has had a tremendous year, and Sweet Home is only the defending state champion.
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.
Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.
Lauren Nicole Mariacher joined The News in 2009 after graduating from the Columbia University School of Journalism. The Elma native and Iroquois graduate can usually be found on a sideline, capturing highlights for PrepTalkTV. She also hosts Prep Talk's weekly live show, with Keith McShea, as well as The News' live postgame Bills show — [BN]TheHuddle.