I'll be at Sweet Home for its showdown with fellow Class A divisional champion McKinleyat 2 p.m. I'll have play-by-play along with scoring and end-of-quarter updates via Twitter (with the hashtag #MCKvSH on #PrepTalkLive).
Another 2 p.m. game not too far away is that we'll keep an eye on is Kenmore East at Kenmore West at Crosby Field; the rivals enter the game with 4-2 records. Pioneer at Eden in B South and Bennett at Barker/Roy-Hart in B North will help clear up the playoff picture for good.
We encourage you to tweet updates with the hashtag #preptalklive attached -- that's the quickest way for us to share the information through the live chat (tweets with that hashtag will automatically show up -- our old friend #preptalkscores will work as well).
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 once again from Buffalo State, and a big apology. We had some power problems here at the start, but should be good to go now.
We're in the second quarter of the first Section VI Class A-2 semifinal between No. 3-seed Bennett and No. 2 Kenmore East. It's Big Wednesday in the high school basketball world, as colleague Keith McShea coined it earlier today. Keith is at Canisius covering the Manhattan Cup, while Tyler Dunne is down in Jamestown, covering the Class C semis. We've got all the bases covered tonight.
We'll be live the rest of the night, so stick with us.
4:36 left in the second quarter: A pair of free throws by William Vanoy has given Bennett a 23-9 lead.
3:05 left:A 7-0 run by East has cut the score to 23-16. Dante Bono has five of those points for the Bulldogs.
1:00 left: P.J. Blanch put on a sick dribbling display there for Ken East, drawing a reaching foul, but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1, so East still trails, 31-18.
Halftime: Bennett 32, Kenmore East 22. A nice drive and layup by Bono brought the half to a close.
First-half notes: Both teams are led by a few select scorers. For Bennett, William Vanoy has 11, Mckenzie Brown has 8, Forest Richardson leads with 12 and Kevin Johnson has 1. Dante Bono leads the Bulldogs with 10, while John Alessandra has 8. P.J. Blanch has 2, as does Jakai Daniels.
6:47 left: Eden Asipi cleans up a miss and puts it back and the Bulldogs are making a game of it with the first four points of the quarter.
5:32 left:Bennett gets the next four to get its lead back up to 10, with buckets by, who else, Vanoy and Richardson. It's 36-26.
4:44 left: The pace has slowed a bit with fouls on both ends. After Bono went 1 of 2 for East, Vanoy hit a pair for the Tigers, who lead, 38-27.
2:58 left:Steal and bucket in transition for Derrick Turner gives the Bulldogs a 40-29 lead and frustrates East, which thought Bono got fouled underneath. He probably did, but no call.
2:43 left: Bono hits a three after a nice set play to beat a 2-3 zone. Bennett's up 40-32.
1:24 left: Bono is trying to shoot the Bulldogs back into it. He hits a deep three from the right wing to make it 42-35.
End of third quarter: Bennett 42, Kenmore East 37. This is as close East has been since almost the tip.
6:02 left: Bulldogs are getting a huge lift from Alessandra, who has five points this quarter -- the only points scored -- to tie the game. He just completed a traditional three-point play after a strong drive to the basket. Bennett has called timeout.
5:23 left: Bulldogs call timeout to maintain possession with it still tied at 42. Important because East has just two timeouts left now.
4:51 left: Back-to-back turnovers by East has led to five points by Bennett. A transition layup by Richardson and a three-pointer by Derrick Turner. Huge momentum changer. Bennett leads, 47-42.
Stoppage in play with 4:05 left after a collision between Bono and Vanoy resulted in a cut above the eye of the Bennett player. He's being attended to by the trainers on the Bennett bench.
3:05 left: Derrick Turner with his second huge three-pointer of the final quarter to give Bennett an eight-point lead, 50-42.
1:47 left: Bono with a transition layup to cut it to six, 50-44.
1:07 left: Full timeout by East, which has one left. The Bulldogs trail, 52-44, after Richardson hit a layup for Bennett after the Tigers broke the press.
:29.1 seconds left: Bono can SHOOT. He hits two silly-deep threes to pull East within four, 54-50. Timeout by Bennett.
:11.5 left: Bono fouls out, a huge blow to East's chances. Vanoy goes to the line and makes 1 of 2 to put Bennett up five.
Final: Bennett 57, Kenmore East 50. Off for interviews.
Bennett coach Randy Rakowski
Bennett senior Forest Richardson
We're back for the second game, with the starters.
Will South: Stasiak-Licata-O'Connell-Hansen-Adams
3:52 left: Timeout, H-T, after losing an 8-2 lead. Engineers now trail, 9-8, after a reverse layup by Erik Hansen of South.
2:50 left: Stasiak to the line. He hits 1 of 2 and it's tied at 10.
2:22 left: Stasiak for a three to put the Billies ahead, 13-10.
End of first quarter: South leads, 18-12. Stasiak hit another three for the Billies. Updates will probably be limited for the next hour or so while I write a story for our print edition.
7:19 left: Hansen with a great tip-in off a Stasiak missed three. Hansen was fouled on the play, as well, but missed the free throw. It's 20-12, Billies.
6:11 left: Full timeout by H-T coach David Rappl. His team trails, 22-15.
4:01 left: Joe Licata fouled on a three-pointer for South, but he misses 2 of 3. South is up, 25-19.
Halftime: Will South leads, 27-25.
Scoring update: Hutch-Tech -- Andrew Strugg has 4, Marcus Nelson's got 9, Nelson Clark with 4, Maurice Miles has 2, Denzell Washington has 2, as do John Cherry and Tim Whitehead.
Will South -- Aaron Adams has 5, Joe Licata 1, Dan Schaus 4, Phil Stasiak's got 7, Kevin O'Connell with 6, and Erik Hansen with 4.
4:39 left: Stop me if you've heard this before: a three-pointer for Joe Licata. His first of the game gives the Billies a 34-27 lead.
:48.8 seconds left: Consecutive baskets in transition, one by Miles and one by Nelson, has given Hutch-Tech a 40-36 lead.
Note: Bennett is on a 13-0 run.
:22.5 left: Stasiak stops the run with a free throw, making it 42-37.
End of third quarter: Hutch-Tech leads, 45-37. Engineers ended the third quarter on a 16-1 run.
4:34 left: Will South senior Aaron Adams gets good position inside and finishes the layup to pull the Billies within two, 47-45. Adams is a 6-foot-4 senior.
:21.7 seconds left: Will South has completed the comeback and looks like it will advance. Phil Stasiak had the play of the game, a driving layup on which he was fouled with :55.2 seconds left. Stasiak hit the free throw to give the Billies a 56-52 lead.
:13.8 left: A desperation three-pointer is off the mark for the Engineers, and South is going to advance. Schaus is at the line for the Billies. He hits them both and it's 61-52.
Final: South 61, Hutch-Tech 52. Final score doesn't indicate just how close the game was. Back later after interviews with some audio.
Here's a couple postgame interviews from the winning side:
Hello from Kenmore West, my first stop of at least two tonight. West is hosting Kenmore East in their first rivalry game, with the girls to follow at 7 p.m.
I'm definitely ending up at Clarence at Jamestown (7:30 p.m. start) but I might try and squeeze in a visit to Cheektowaga, which is hosting Depew in a 6:30 p.m. start. I think I want to be at Clarence for the beginning of that one, so I might just head there.
6:49 p.m. The boys game started at 5:30 p.m., but as I said last week, the only good reason to be late for a basketball game is if you're coming from another one (weekly pickup ball).
I walked in with West up, 57-42, heading into the fourth quarter. I kind of wished it was a closer game, but I'm sure the home folks disagree. :-) It will be good to get a first look at Ken West, whose most notable game was a close loss at Niagara Falls that certainly turned some heads.
West now has a 67-52 lead with about four minutes left.
6:56 p.m. A lot of free throws since I've been here -- and some threes. Donte Bono just hit his second of the quarter for East to cut the West lead to 67-56 with just over two minutes to go.
6:59 p.m. P.J. Blanch gets fouled on an aggressive drive to basket and hits two free throws to cut the lead to 67-58 with 1:58 left.
7:01 p.m. Blanch goes down in great pain with 55.6 seconds left and East calls a timeout still trailing by 67-58.
7:04 p.m. Just got a picture of Martin Bailey hitting the first of what would be two free throws. West added another for a 70-58 lead with less than 30 seconds left.
7:05 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Kenmore West 71, Kenmore East 58.
Seventh win in a row for the Blue Devils. Nice job by West -- I can see how they could cause teams problems. They played very composed and smart with a lead from what I watched. Four players in double figures plus 6-foot-4, 230-pound sophomore Quinton Campbell grabbing 14 rebounds.
7:15 p.m. Going to input the box score for the Web and then hit the road. I'll probably head right to Clarence.
Here's Ken West coach Michael Meetze on the win and his team's season.
8:09 p.m. I'm telling you, the ride to Clarence is longggg. I've made tons of trips here over the last year with the school's success in soccer, softball, lacrosse, football and hoops. For some reason, when you think about heading to Clarence you think it's close, when it's really not. These are things this Prep Talk-er has to think about when planning coverage.
We took advantage of the time, however. I was able to upload the Meetze video above during the trip -- don't worry, we were safe: we did it during the many red lights on Sheridan Drive from the Town of Tonawanda to Clarence.
Hello from what the locals call the Devils' Den, where Jamestown has a 18-16 lead after one quarter and renowned DJ Dominic Taverna is doing his thing on the PA.
Most notable is that Jaysean Paige, the junior who seems to be scoring 30-something each night, did not start and did not play the entire quarter.
8:10 p.m. Paige takes the shooting shirt off and is in for the start of the second quarter.
8:12 p.m. Paige with a sweet three from the left side, nice and easy and a swish for a 23-16 lead for the Red Raiders.
8:16 p.m. David Hill hits a three for Clarence to cut it to 23-19 with about 4:30 left in the second quarter.
8:17 p.m. Paige with a nice bounce-pass assist underneath to Darin Butts for a 25-19 Jamestown lead with under 3:30 left in second.
8:18 p.m. Paige with a very nice pullup; again, nice and easy. Tyler Funk answers inside to make it 27-23. Funk blocks Paige on the other end, but the official says there was body involved and calls a foul I didn't see. Paige hits 1 of 2; 28-23 Jamestown with 2:33 left in second.
8:20 p.m. David Hill with a nice drive down the right side, answered by a Butts fast-break in which he was totally unguarded on the breakout. Hill with a nice dribble-fake and hanging jumper; but again, no one guards Butts and he scores a fast-break finger roll for a 32-26 lead.
Steven Hughes hits two at the line. 32-28 Jamestown; again, answered promptly by a Jamestown fast break. Mike Rademacher from Vince Taverna on a nice penetration and dish with a minute left for Clarence (34-31 Jamestown). Nice layup by 40 on a well-done play for Jamestown.
Butts called for a reach-in which the Jamestown fans don't like with 10.4 seconds left, sending 22 to the line but he misses the front end of teh one-and-one. Jamestown runs a nice inbounds play in the final seconds.
8:24 p.m. At halftime, Jamestown leads at Clarence, 36-31.
8:36 p.m. Jamestown's lead is 41-31 as it has started the half with Paige scoring two baskets, the second of which he turned into a three-point play.
8:37 p.m. Tommy Campion with a great reverse layup to prompt a Clarence timeout with 6:29 left in the third quarter. Jamestown leads, 45-33. Steven Hughes had Clarence's previous basket; Paige answered in transition.
8:39 p.m. Funk with a very good-looking turnaround jumper; 45-35 Jamestown under 6:15.
8:40 p.m. Butts with a nice shake and score; Rademacher answers with a putback; 47-37 Jamestown. Offensive foul on Jamestown with 5:04 left in third.
8:42 p.m. Chris Carlson scores inside to make it 49-38 Jamestown with 4:34 left in the third, prompting another timeout from Clarence coach Todd Banaszak.
8:44 p.m. Three-pointer for Adam Cecchini rolls around and in; 52-38 Jamestown with about four left in third. David Hill hits two free throws with 3:49 left; 52-40. Tommy Campion hits a jumper almost immediately after; Jamestown, 54-40.
8:50 p.m. Showtime for Jamestown. Back-to-back dunks by Butts and then Paige. Paige's dunk came off a behind-the-back fast-break pass from Butts and made the score 62-42 with 1:08 left. A technical was called on Paige but I'm not sure why.
8:53 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, Jamestown leads at Clarence, 62-47.
Back in a few minutes.
9:14 p.m. OK, that was more than a few. I was shooting video and I've updated our Web basketball scoreboard with details on the Kenmore West win.
Jamestown has maintained its big lead and is closing in on a win.
Some highlights from the fourth quarter:
9:15 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Jamestown 79, Clarence 67.
More details, highlights and interviews to come, and check that link above to the scoreboard for the box score and a recap for this game.
The postgame show:
* * *
Some thoughts after a look over our scoreboard: Nice win for Cheektowaga over Depew tonight in that game I wanted to check out. ... Eyebrow-raising score is West Seneca West with a low score but a big win as it defeats Lancaster. The Redskins continue to show some inconsistency -- the last time out they won at Clarence to complete a season sweep, and they played Jamestown super-tough down there, but they've also had a big loss to Depew. ... How about triple digits in the Niagara-Orleans League as Newfane outruns and outguns CSAT, 102-80. Wowww. ... Maryvale has no trouble with an East Aurora team that beat Cheektowaga last week in a 19-point win. ... Erik O'Bryan and Niagara-Wheatfield win in O'Bryan's return to his old school at North Tonawanda. ... Portville with a nice home win over Salamanca by four.
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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We're finally up and running. Some technically difficulties here tonight in the Amherst Center.
The first of two Small School semifinals features top seed and defending champion Kenmore East against first-time semifinalist and original eight Fed member Amherst, the No. 7 seed.
Scoreless through one although Amherst will be on the power play for 53 seconds when the second period begins.
Amherst goalie Sean Smith made some nice saves, especially late with the Bulldogs buzzing during back-to-back power plays. Tigers had a couple decent shots on Mike Davern but Ken East ended period with 9-4 edge in shots.
Until those late penalties, Amherst did good job slowing down Ken East before Bulldogs skaters reached neutral zone. Tigers basically playing version of left-wing lock and standing up Ken East players in neutral zone.
Kenmore East scored first just after a power play had expired. Steve Genter's screen shot from the point beat Amherst goalie Sean Smith between the arm and body with 8:53 left.
It's a Friday, and there are a ton of games tonight, so I'm reprising my Friday Night Live blog entry as I slush-slide my way around Western New York trying to catch as much action as I can.
My goal is to end up at the Amherst at Maryvale game in which son Chris Kensy of the Tigers will be coaching against his father, Mark. There are a lot of potential stops in between now and then, but we'll see how much we can squeeze in.
4:58 p.m. After a stop at the office, our first stop is an easy one - the earliest game of the night is a 4:15 p.m. Yale Cup contest between Burgard and Middle College at the Kats' home court -- ECC-City's Flickinger Center.
Upon my entry, I was handed a Middle College program -- a great-looking, 12-page full color edition with photos, bios and ads. It's even got an excerpt of the Prep Talk blog on the back page. We like that.
Middle College is up more than I expected -- 40-15 at halftime. Burgard is coming off a nice win over McKinley to start Yale Cup play on Wednesday.
Darale Young was honored for being the school's first 1,000-point scorer at halftime. That was a better highlight than much of the action on the floor -- Middle was running Burgard off the floor.
5:22 p.m. Middle's lead is now 62-23 after three quarters. Overwhelming defense by the Kats. Burgard had a two-point second quarter, according to a report from Centercourt.
With my stories posted and the next round of Yale Cup games set to start at 5:30, I'm outta here.
5:49 p.m. It turns out I was outta there a few minutes later after getting some more computer stuff straight, fending off an aggressive parking lot attendant who thought I wasn't going to pay, slip-and-slide driving over to Hutch-Tech, and getting the Darale Young video posted in the parking lot.
5:50 p.m. Then I walk into Hutch-Tech, right on time ... for the end of the JV game between the Engineers and McKinley! Arghhhhhh!
I've got no time to waste, so I'm heading to Grover.
6:07 p.m. We arrive at Grover to an expectedly frenetic pace between the Presidents and Seneca.
6:10 p.m. No. 15 for Grover just SLAMMED a one-handed dunk down off of a standing start at the left side of the hoop. Wow. I gotta find out who that guy is. Too bad I didn't have the iPhone going. Centercourt (he got here before me) was calling for the iPhone on that one. Bummer.
6:14 p.m. At the end of the first quarter at Grover, the Presidents lead Seneca, 25-18. Ricky Alejandro hit three three-pointers in the quarter, including one in the final minute, for Grover. He only missed one shot in the quarter, reports Prep Talk Nation member Hollywood. Looks like I'm going to the right games, running into these guys.
6:16 p.m. I've got a little bit of a cushion, time-wise, since Canisius hosts St. Francis in a 6:30 p.m. scheduled start. I'm planning on stopping by there and then heading north to the Kenmore schools (7 p.m. starts). The targets are then Will North at Clarence and finally Amherst at Maryvale. We'll see how it goes.
6:21 p.m. Seneca's Aaron Frazier just scored on a slick drive while being fouled but couldn't hit the free throw. It's a 31-26 Grover lead with about four minutes left in the second. There is a very -- spirited, shall we say -- discussion going on between an adult female Grover fan and an adult male Seneca fan. People getting fired up but nothing out of hand. Good stuff. One of the best things at this game is Grover's big dog of a mascot -- you should be able to spot the spotted fella behind the baseline on a video highlight I post later.
6:28 p.m. We're off to Canisius soon, where hopefully the JV game is finished by the time I get there. Grover leads Seneca, 36-27, with two minutes left in the second quarter.
6:29 p.m. One very important quick correction before we split -- the Grover dog mascot is a female.
Some great videos featuring said dog ...
Was it a three? Just keep your eye on the dog, dog.
The action doesn't stop, the dancing doesn't stop. Outstanding.
6:43 p.m. I inexplicably take a much longer way to Canisius than I should have and arrive to catch the last seconds of the first quarter, which has Canisius leading, 15-9.
6:45 p.m. Back in the car to get some writing done, and my computer is on the fritz. Ugh.
7:07 p.m. Just pull into a primo parking spot at Kenmore West, where the Niagara Falls visit has a pretty full lot here.
Adding a few pictures then will get a very quick look at the game.
7:18 p.m. Walk into Ken West just in time for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Not soon after, Niagara Falls has an 8-0 lead.
C.J. Cox gets things started with a steal-and-basket.
Maurice Respress gets up for a rebound and a follow.
As Davon Marshall hits a long two-pointer, I'm out the door at 7:23 p.m.
7:32 p.m. Pull into Kenmore East, where Lockport is visiting.
7:44 p.m. Back in the car -- Lockport had a 15-3 lead after one quarter and is now up, 16-7, with 6:02 left in the first half. Shannon Haynes had two twos and a three for seven points in the first quarter.
Nice basket by East's Peter Crawford, followed by a near-miss by Lockport's Haynes.
Another near-miss by Lockport.
The play was a bit choppy and I wasn't able to get a quick highlight like I was at West. Off to Clarence.
8:11 p.m. Arrive at Clarence, and who is working the door to the gym but Buffalo News Hall of Fame Sports SuperClerk Alex Chambers, now a teacher and coach at Clarence. Gotta love it.
This was my first trip to the Clarence gym -- I've been here plenty of times for outdoor sports when the parking lot isn't all snowy.
8:20 p.m. Clarence and Williamsville North are tied at 27-27 in the final minute of the first half. I saw about two minutes of more choppy game action, but it was enough to see what people have been talking about with regards to talented eighth-grade starter Sterling Taplin of North.
Taplin sets up a teammate for a North basket.
With halftime approaching, I'm outta here and off to Maryvale.
8:37 p.m. Pull into Maryvale parking lot, hoping for at least a good chunk of the second half still to go.
8:59 p.m. After three failed tries at doors to the Maryvale gym (score one for security!), I find the right one and sneak under the bleachers to center court (two words) and there's a lot of basketball to play.
I catch some end-of-third-quarter action and Maryvale has a 54-40 lead over Amherst heading to the fourth.
9:09 p.m. With 2:58 left to play, Maryvale is up, 58-49.
Twice in the fourth, Amherst comes within seven points ...
... but both times Blair Estarfaa comes up big with a basket. Above is one of those times.
9:17 p.m. Maryvale is going to win this one, up, 63-52, with 25.7 seconds left.
9:24 p.m. Maryvale beats Amherst, 66-56. An embrace between the coaches at the end of the handshake line, then Chris Kensy with a little hug for all of the Maryvale players, who he coached as the Flyers' JV coach the last three years.
I had a great talk with both Kensys after the game -- I'll write more about their meeting in Tuesday's Scholastic Spotlight.
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In total, seven games at eight sites in less than 4-1/2 hours. Not bad. I'm still irked that I got to Hutch-Tech while the JV game was still going on. Could have been eight!
To review: I went from Middle College to Hutch-Tech to Grover Cleveland to Canisius to Kenmore West to Kenmore East to Clarence to Maryvale.
I planned the route based on geography and time -- and it pretty much worked out. I went a long way to not spend much time at Clarence, but I think it was worth seeing Taplin in what was a good ECIC I game. I saw Lockport and Shannon Haynes and got an idea of where their recent good play has come from. I wish I could have stuck around for more of what looked to be a very entertaining Grover-Seneca contest.
And the end worked out great -- it was a blast seeing the Kensy-vs.-Kensy coaching battle at Maryvale. An outstanding atmosphere at that game. Amherst brought a lot of fired-up fans -- it seems the entire program has gotten a boost behind coach Chris Kensy.
I'm not sure the total mileage -- don't worry, I'll have it ready for the expense report -- but the route unfolded pretty well. My main tough call driving-wise was whether to take Sheridan all the way out between Ken East and Clarence -- I opted for the 290 to the Thruway to Transit to Wehrle to Harris Hill to Main. That was probably was best move considering the stop-and-go-ing on Maple and likely Sheridan, especially since you had to be careful with the slick roads.
Looks like I missed a big second half for Clarence, which went on to beat North; I was right about Grover's win over Seneca being a fun one (76-70). Middle College, Canisius, Lockport and Falls all rolled, which was expected even before I stuck my head in their games.
The one other game I wanted to check out but thought it was a little too far out of the way was Lew-Port at North Tonawanda -- and waddya know, NT wins in three overtimes. Whoa.
Centercourt was heading up to Newfane and he saw a great one it seems as the Panthers knock off Medina, 54-53. Another whoa.
Nice showing again from Cleveland Hill, which falls to Holland in overtime. A bit curious about Lackawanna only beating Tonawanda by eight; good job by the Warriors to keep it to single digits.
We'll leave this on a pretty cool note, a video of coaches Kensy:
Football is obviously the big sport in the fall, but this opening weekend is even bigger when you consider the big events that are getting other seasons started.
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In today's paper we mentioned two boys soccer events, the Clarence Tournament and the Coaches V. Cancer ECIC-NFL Challenge at Sweet Home. The Clarence event speaks for itself with top teams East Aurora, Nichols and Kenmore East visiting.
The Sweet Home event has organizers wondering aloud if it is the largest boys soccer event to be held in Western New York. With five games on Friday and five on Saturday, I can't think of anything of that scope.
It's a great format and a great cause. Officials will wear a commemorative shirt to honor former longtime Western New York official Tom Mingle, who passed away on Sept. 5, 2008. The officials -- who are donating all of their game fees to cancer research -- will make a presentation to Tom's family during halftime of the Sweet Home/North Tonawanda game at 12:45 p.m. Saturday.
The format of the event is two points for a win and one point for a tie; if the two leagues are tied the tiebreaker is fewest goals allowed.
Here's the lineup:
Friday's games Sweet Home vs. Kenmore West, 2 p.m. Wmsv. East vs. North Tonawanda, 4 p.m. Wmsv. North vs. Niagara Falls, 4 p.m. Wmsv. South vs. Lew-Port, 6 p.m. Hamburg vs. Niagara-Wheatfield, 6 p.m. Saturday's games Wmsv. North vs. Lew-Port, 10 a.m. Wmsv. East vs. Niagara-Wheatfield, 10 a.m. Sweet Home vs. North Tonawanda, noon Hamburg vs. Kenmore West, noon Wmsv. South vs. Niagara Falls, 2 p.m.
Also, this afternoon is the first round for the Eden Kickoff Classic, which features the hosts meeting Springville and Pioneer taking on Roy-Hart; the winners meet Friday.
Friday just isn't opening night for football at Orchard Park, Rochester boys soccer power Aquinas will visit OP at 5 p.m.
Speaking of Aquinas, on Saturday the Little Irish host Canisius while the girls team hosts East Aurora.
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Clarence also has a nice collection for its girls soccer tournament, held in conjunction with the boys. Friday's first-rounders are Nardin at Clarence and Nichols vs. Kenmore East.
Some nonleague girls soccer action Friday includes a great program showdown of Williamsville North at Grand Island as well as Williamsville South at North Tonawanda.
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Clarence just leads the league in big opening events -- the 23rd annual Clarence Invitational in boys volleyball includes a who's who of top teams in its 16-team field. Orchard Park,
Canisius, Eden and St. Francis will be there. The tournament starts at 8 a.m.
Speaking of volleyball, the boys get some serious bump-set-spiking in tonight as OP -- which went undefeated last year -- opens against St. Francis at home at 7 p.m.
On Friday, Catholic girls state champion St. Mary's opens up at Victor of Section V (Rochester area) while Williamsville North is at Starpoint.
WGR's Web site states it will be broadcasting the following games on Friday nights:
Friday: East Aurora at Iroquois Sept. 11: Williamsville North at North Tonawanda Sept. 18: Depew at Maryvale Sept. 25: Sweet Home at West Seneca East Oct. 2: Orchard Park at Lancaster Oct. 9: Iroquois at Williamsville South Oct. 17 (Saturday): Kenmore East at Kenmore West
A quality lineup of games, and it's definitely cool to see high schools going primetime -- especially on a station where they high school sports talk has been quarantined to one hour on Saturday mornings for years.
Iroquois is a big winner with two games, but both are good matchups. The Monsignor Martin Association is a big loser with zero games, but it's somewhat understandable since there aren't any Friday nighters screaming for coverage. If GR is still doing games on Oct. 30, it might not be a bad, spread-the-wealth idea to go with the Monsignor Martin championship rematch of Canisius at St. Francis rather than a Section VI semifinal.
The list is a good mix of games, teams and areas, and it shouldn't be a surprise that the lineup consists of all Erie County teams other than just-across-the-bridge North Tonawanda. Randolph-Maple Grove is a great game for high school football fans, but GR wants to move the ratings needle, especially in a first-time venture like this.
Keith McShea 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.