For this week's PrepTalkTV Weekly -- which you can see right here tonight at 9 -- we'll welcome a team fresh off one of the biggest wins in school history (and that's any sport). We'll have the Cardinal O'Hara girls team on one night after beating Sacred Heart in a battle of Western New York's No. 1s.
And yes, we said the team. Part of the reason that O'Hara is a great story -- besides its undefeated record -- is that there are just eight players on the team, so they'll all be on hand along with coach Dan McDermott.
We'll have another loaded show of highlights from boys and girls hoops as well as hockey, wrestling and swimming -- including a couple of "[BN] The Locker Room" videos of coaches' pregame speeches. We'll also have more highlights in PrepTalkTV Rewind as well our weekly look at the boys basketball polls and a look ahead to this weekend and beyond.
As usual after PrepTalkTV Weekly, I'll have a live chat following the show.
Here's a rundown of the show:
0:00 -- Opening, discussion of McShea's Prep Talk column on Depew Boys & Girls Club
3:10 -- Interview with Cardinal O'Hara girls basketball team, including coach Dan McDermott, senior Leah McDonell and junior Keyonte Edwards
13:40 -- Clarence hockey's win over Frontier, featuring [BN] The Locker Room footage of coach Rick Brooks
18:30 -- Canisius boys swimming dominates St. Joe's to start strong weekend
21:45 -- Canisius boys basketball moves to No. 1 in The News poll and the state Class A poll; featuring [BN] The Locker Room with coach Kyle Husband from Friday's win at Timon
25:50 -- Look at this week's boys basketball polls
28:10 -- PrepTalkTV Rewind (St. Francis wrestling, Iroquois girls basketball, a special guest star on the Bucky & Sully show), followed by discussion of concussions in football and a mention of locals on National Signing Day
35:55 -- Discussion of this weekend's big championship wrestling meets
38:05 -- A look ahead to upcoming action from Thursday to Tuesday; closing.
At first glance, it's a dungeon, a poorly-lit basement, a
storage area for the school's old junk.
While the “Pit" at Iroquois High School is a place for
rusted school desks and athletic equipment from as far back as 1968, it is
also a place that has soaked up more than 40 years of wrestling tradition.
I can't even begin to count the hours I spent in that wrestling
room underneath the gymnasium, while I waited after my basketball practices
for my father, the coach then, and my three brothers to wrap up their
It's not an exactly comfortable place for a young girl; it's
dark and smells like sweat. But when you spend
that much time down there you would begin to notice less the smell and more
the spirit of such a place.
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.
The Buffalo News is scattering across Western New York to bring you complete coverage of the first day of high school football practice.
I'll be making scheduled stops at Iroquois, Canisius and North Tonawanda throughout the day -- three schools with rich football histories and brand new head coaches. Well, somewhat new...at all three, the new coach was promoted from within the program.
Stay tuned for updates, and feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section, or shoot me a tweet @samkilb.
8:26 a.m. After two false starts (some construction at the school threw me off...that's my story) I've spotted some guys with pads at Iroquois...let's see how they're handling day one.
8:45 a.m. Coach Marshall addressing both teams in the auditorium. He means business. No nonsense, high goals. I'll be speaking with him shortly.
9:00 a.m. Chalk talk in Iroquois, Marshall hands out playbooks...without a single play in them. The players have to draw them in themselves. Not a bad idea. (They have some terminology in them, Coach Marshall wanted to make sure I clarified. "They won't be blank by Friday," he said.)
9:35 a.m. New Iroquois coach Keith Marshall, who was promoted to this job from the school's JV team after previous Coach Payne stepped aside, said he expects the transition to go smoothly.
"It's been a busy, really exciting summer," Marshall, who moved up from junior varsity with about 30 players, said. "Moving up with them has been a bonus, especially in terms of familiarity with the offense, with the system, with the things that I expect on and off the field."
Marshall said there would be plenty of similarities in how he runs the program and how it was run before. "I learned an awful lot from Coach Payne, I worked with him for ten years and I have a termendous amount of respect for what he taught me," he said. "I'm about similar things in coaching. I'm about keeping the kids safe, being successful and having fun. And we're going to accomplish those three goals this year."
Marshall is going into his 11th year coaching at Iroquois, and as a result, he feels the transition has gone well. The players agree.
"He's been with the program for awhile now, and I've had him since modified," senior wide receiver Madison Wesolowski said. "So I know him, he knows the routine of what we do."
Senior lineman Brandon Vernen said the hard work in the summer paid off.
"I think it's going really smoothly," he said. "Both coaches have their similarities and differences. But Coach Marshall, he's very enthusiastic and he knows how to get the job done."
On the field, changes in personnel will lead to different skill set for this years Iroquois team.
"We're going to be a smaller team, but faster," senior lineman Casey Erhardt said. He added that the team could certainly live up to Marshall's goal of being the smartest in the division. "All the juniors coming up really know their stuff...we're young, but we're also smart, and we're active, so it should be good."
After 11 seasons as head coach, and after helping build Iroquois into one of the best football programs in Western New York, Frank Payne has stepped down.
"I've enjoyed my time -- I was with the program 19 years and head coach the last 11, and one of my goals was to turn the program around," said Payne. "I think they had won around 19 games in 1990s, and I think we won about 72 games in the 2000s. We did a lot of great things. I think it's time for me to move on and pursue an new opportunity or two. I put everything in 24-7 and I'm looking to take a little break."
Payne notified school officials of his decision on Thursday and told the Chiefs players in a team meeting. As he walked down the hallway after the meeting, Payne said several surprised people stopped him and said, "you're kidding me, right?"
"So I had to answer some questions, but you just know when it's time to make a change," he said. "It's tough to leave a program you've built, but but there's a time to move on and this is the time. It wasn't a rash decision."
Payne was 73-32, with Iroquois making the Section VI playoffs in 10 of his 11 years. The Chiefs made four trips to Ralph Wilson Stadium for the Section VI championships, winning two titles (2004, 2006) and advancing to the state semifinals in 2004.
Payne, who teaches physical education at Iroquois Intermediate School, said he will continue as head coach of the girls basketball team, a position he took on this past season. He said he would be coaching football somewhere in the fall, but most likely as an assistant and most likely at a high school. He said he had already been approached with some opportunities.
The responsibility of being the head coach of two varsity programs was part of Payne's decision.
"I really enjoy working with the girls varsity program and there's a bright future there," he said. "Coaching two major sports back-to-back is doable, but I'm not sure I'd be able to give everything I could to both. One of my things is that whenever I do something, I want to do it right."
Payne's tenure as head coach also saw the community rally around the program, including the construction of lights at Milt Latimer Field.
"I want to thank all of the Iroquois community for their support," he said. "All the fan support is a big part of the program right now, thanks to the fans and all the former players and coaches. I want to thank them for all of their hard work. And Go Chiefs -- I know they're going to do well."
I'm running around to different sites this afternoon before tonight's chat -- but the rush-hour traffic in the Northtowns isn't helping.
First stop is Williamsville South softball. Some rain but just a light drizzle.
5:21 p.m. Will South has a 1-0 lead on West Seneca East after four and a half.
Off to Clarence for softball and lacrosse.
5:42 p.m. Arrive at Clarence to see that the home team has an 8-2 lead on Lancaster with less than two minutes left in the second quarter.
Also an update from correspondent Nate Beutel -- West Seneca East beat Williamsville North, 13-9, in the Class B girls lacrosse final.
5:47 p.m. Clarence softball has a 3-1 lead on Niagara-Wheatfield -- whoops, just made it 6-1 with a three-run homer by Tori Nappo in the bottom of the sixth. Val Nappo just added an RBI single for a 7-1 lead.
Well-placed sources here say that Williamsville North is up on Lancaster, 4-1, late in the other AA softall semifinal.
Also, Sean Bruso just texted me that Lancaster has a 6-5 halftime lead over Clarence in the Class A girls lacrosse championship.
6:11 p.m. We have a final score: Clarence beats Niagara-Wheatfield in the AA softball semifinals, 8-3.
6:19 p.m. Over at the lacrosse field (the football field), Clarence has a 9-4 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
Man, Clarence just made it 10-4 while I was typing and not video-ing. Argh. Missed out on some softball stuff too.
6:22 p.m. Now 11-4. Still typing. Ugh.
6:32 p.m. Clarence leads, 13-5, with 3:56 left. And yes, we got some video highlights. Whew.
6:43 p.m. Clarence wins, 13-5. Nice job by the Red Devils to reach their first boys lax final. Good, physical, well-played game from what I saw.
Off to Hamburg.
7:28 p.m. Arrived at Hamburg after a very necessary fuel stop (five diet Cokes to get me through the night).
Hamburg boys have scored four times -- I believe -- while I've been trying to find a parking spot. They just have Iroquois overmatched. Iroquois called a timeout after the fourth goal -- and just after I found a spot.
Also we have some final scores. Lancaster wins it's sixth straight Class A title in girls lacrosse with an 11-9 win over Clarence in what must have been a great game. thanks to correspondent Amanda Bremer and Mr. Bruso for the texts in the last few minutes.
Also, Mr. Bruso confirms a 4-1 softball final victory for Will North.
7:39 p.m. Correspondent Ben Gaughan reports that Albion beat Williamsville South, 5-3, to win the Class A baseball title.
7:49 p.m. The sky darkened big-time and a serious downpour hit Hamburg. They're still playing, but I'm still in the car -- for now.
7:50 p.m. Rain has stopped. Iroquois hanging in there at 4-2 with 3:44 left in second quarter.
8:01 p.m. Awesome goal by Iroquois -- which I caught on video -- late in the quarter makes it just a 4-3 halftime lead for Hamburg. Hmmmmm. Battery running low on iPhone - hope we have enough juice to handle a closer game than most expected.
8:21 p.m. We have a lightning delay - which means we have a 30-minute wait. Hamburg has scored twice to take a 6-3 lead with 3:48 to play in the third quarter.
With the live chat at 9:30ish, I'm going to head back to One News Plaza.
Back in the car. It wasn't raining when the delay was called, but it is now and fans are seeking shelter across the street in the high school. Thunder rumbled often before lightning was seen.
See you in the chat and we'll have all results posted as soon as possible.
8:40 p.m. Wow. Did some work in the car - now we have a torrential downpour with thunder and lightning. Not sure if they'll get to finish tonight.
I'll have video of the stormy weather, too :-)
9:45 p.m. We're back at One News Plaza, fuled with some Subway and up and running with our weekly live chat.
* * *
If you're out at a game, let us know what you saw and what you thought of the action.
The Class A final is set -- and it's not Iroquois-Grand Island.
Albion knocked off No. 1 large school and second-seeded Iroquois, 8-5, while Williamsville South toppled No. 1 seed and defending champion Grand Island, 11-5.
The undefeated Purple Eagles (21-0) take on the Billies (10-5) at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Niagara Falls' Sal Maglie Stadium.
In the Monsignor Martin Association, we have three of the final four teams and one killer semifinal matchup.
St. Joe's beat Cardinal O'Hara, 9-0, while Canisius edged Nichols, 3-2 -- the rivals will meet in the semifinals at 3 p.m. Thursday at St. Joe's. The semifinal doubleheader at Joe's concludes with St. Mary's -- which knocked off Bishop Timon-St. Jude, 2-1 -- meeting the winner of Sunday's quarterfinal of Niagara Cathoic at St.Francis.
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.