This should be interesting. I've got a list of scrimmages and a plan mapped out, and that list has already gotten rained on.
Oh well -- the umbrella is in the trunk as we head off to Cleveland Hill first to see the Golden Eagles and Cardinal O'Hara in action.
It turns out that Grover Cleveland and Hutch-Tech also scrimmaged at Cleve Hill, so I got more action than I thought in my first stop.
A steady drizzle met me as I stood behind a Cleveland Hill coach doing his own video from a ladder set up behind an end-zone area. A big hit by a defender on a run brought an "OOHHHHHHH!" from the blue-and-yellow helmeted players on the Cleve Hill sideline. On the next play, a Grover quarterback rolled out, prompting the Cleve Hill sideline to yell, "PASS!" Oh yeah, it sure sounds like football season.
Cleveland Hill coach Glen Graham was in midseason form, urging players to assemble quickly after plays. "Everybody runs back to the huddle!"
I stepped over to an adjacent field, where O'Hara -- which looked like they were ready for gameday in the familiar white jerseys with black numbers and gold helmets -- set up against Hutch-Tech and its maroon practice gear. I spotted Jerry Falgiano for Hutch-Tech as well as O'Hara coach Angelo Sciandra as I captured my first highlight of the day.
We're in a bit of unchartered video territory as we try out our iPhone -- I can do videos with the phone, then upload them to the blog via YouTube. It's like the future.
But it's with my old-school notebook and pen that I capture a gem. Standing on the sideline of the O'Hara-Tech field, a big hit was audible from the Grover-Cleve Hill field. That prompted one mom to say, "Ohhh they doin' some hitting over there."
I returned to the Cleve Hill-Grover field, where Tony Alessi was coaching Grover and longtime Cleve Hill coach Denny Mason was also on hand.
Cleve Hill had a big run gain as I headed to the parking lot. The rain has seemed to let up. Excellent.
10:19 a.m. We're hitting the road to Clarence next since it's close by and we can shoot up to Lockport right after. But uh-oh -- the rain has picked up big-time.
10:37 a.m. OK. We've made an executive decision. We made this decision as we were driving down Main Street towards Clarence, analyzing on the way if I should just go right up to Lockport. Then I passed Williamsville South on the left, and I said, "Duh -- there's like seven teams practicing there."
Originally I thought I'd be able to get Clarence in, but the writing and posting does take a little time. We'll check out the action here, then head to Lockport, then North Tonawanda, then hopefully Canisius will still be going when we get there.
11:18 a.m. The stop at Will South was a good one -- I just posted videos to the PrepTalkTV channel on YouTube featuring Bishop Timon-St. Jude and Tonawanda, St. Mary's and Maryvale and Williamsville South and Eden. South Park was also on hand. The rain has been hit and miss, and right now it has held off.
On the main Will South field, Timon and Tonawanda were on one half and Maryvale and St. Mary's on the other.
Some nice defense by Timon here ...
... and a good -- and quick -- play here by a St. Mary's lineman.
Here's my best highlight of the day, thanks to a reverse by South that came right at me. Gotta have quick feet and your head on a swivel when you're taping on the sidelines.
South had a few nice plays in addition to this scoring play, some on the ground and a few close calls in the air.
11:28 a.m. We're heading up to Lockport with hopes that scrimmages go longer than three hours.
11:59 a.m. Whoops. Swing and a miss. No sign of anything going on at Lockport. Empty parking lot, empty field. So much for my idea that teams scrimmaged all day. We're headed to North Tonawanda, where hopefully I won't be too late.
12:22 p.m. Argh. As I'm pulling into NT, buses from Grand Island and Riverside are pulling out. Argh. Note to self: Scrimmages don't go much over two hours. That's probably a state guideline that I should have known before I started this adventure.
I still got some good bang for the buck in my two stops, seeing a total of 10 teams.
I'll see some more this evening -- I'll start at Iroquois at 5 p.m. and spend a decent amount of time there since they're hosting Frontier and Lackawanna.
5:20 p.m. I arrive at Iroquois' scrimmage, but it wasn't exactly easy to find. The Chiefs, Lackawanna and Frontier were set up on a backfield, accessible via a dirt road that went well behind the high school building. There was a "Field of Dreams" feeling to it as you made your way down a hill, and all of a sudden in a clearing there was some high school football.
One thing that onlookers couldn't help but notice was the wording on a trailer behind the practice field's near end zone.
"EA All the way" was how the duct tape lettering spelled out.
Apparently it was a prank by some Blue Devil backers from neighboring East Aurora who snuck onto the field one night.
Iroquois coach Frank Payne said the message is staying up until the Chiefs' Week One game -- which is against East Aurora.
On the field, the action was the best I saw all day -- which I suppose I shouldn't be surprised about since Iroquois and Lackawanna are two of the area's best programs, while Frontier has been a ranked large school in recent years while they've slugged it out in AA South.
The gathering of quality teams brought out plenty of fans in folding chairs, despite the remote location.
One of the first plays I saw upon my arrival was a Lackawanna run in which the ball carrier hesitated before being swarmed by Frontier defenders. "Don't stop!" yelled Steelers coach Bruce Lakso.
Frontier had a number of quality defensive plays in back-to-back series against Lackawanna and Iroquois, including two straight batted down passes by -- I believe -- the same lineman on Iroquois rollouts.
Above is a pass play by Iroquois finished off with some good hits by Frontier (it makes for a much better highlight when they come to my side of the field).
Here's a big interception and a nice runback -- check out the blocks -- by Lackawanna against Frontier.
A big sack here by Lackawanna against Iroquois.
I headed over to the other side of the field for a few plays and tried to get a photo to show how isolated the location was. It turned into a beautiful night for football after the rainy start to the morning.
6:57 p.m. I pulled in to Amherst, where the Tigers are paired up with Lake Shore on one half of the field while Kenmore East is knocking heads with West Seneca West on the other.
Check out West Seneca West's line pushing through for a touchdown.
A nice finish of a TD run up the middle by Lake Shore.
Amherst with a nice over-the-middle pass play for a score.
Amherst passes right at me (thank you) and the receiver makes a great catch-and-dodge before going down the sideline for a TD.
Kenmore East goes in for a touchdown on a nice keeper through traffic by their quarterback.
8:17 p.m. Back in the car for a ride home, where we'll do some editing and post some cool stuff from the evening scrimmages.
Overall, it was a great way to get a taste of football before the season gets rolling next weekend.
It's hard to make any great proclamations based on what I saw today -- it is, after all, a scrimmage. The coaches are looking for specific things from their respective units, and they'll be poring over the videos of their day to how their guys did.
As Lake Shore coach Bill Moore said to his team at the close of their evening at Amherst, "the film never lies."
To sum up the evening, here's Kenmore East coach Matt Chimera talking about how nice it was to take his guys up against another team after training camp.
Our apologies about the audio at the end -- he finishes saying he was pleased with his team's physical play: "That's what we asked, to go out there and be physical."
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If you went out at a scrimmage, let us know what you saw.