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Live from Scrimmage Saturday: 17 teams, 14 video highlights

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.

A Cleveland Hill coach videos some scrimmage plays. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) 9:52 a.m. Hard-hitting football season has officially begun.

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.

Over the river and through the woods to Iroquois' scrimmage field we go. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) 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.

East Aurora pranksters visited Iroquois' practice field one night and left a big message. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)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. 

Coach Bill Moore talks to his Lake Shore team after the Eagles scrimmaged at Amherst. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)Scrimmage Saturday is officially over.

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.

---Keith McShea

Scribbling down scrimmages: Saturday's lineup

Saturday is the first day football teams can scrimmage each other.

Below is a list we've compiled from your responses to the Kicking off 2009 football talk post as well as some other research.

PLEASE let us know of any inaccuracies, updates or additions via the comments section below or an email to Thanks.

Also, check out a statewide scrimmage list from the NYS Sportswriters Association.

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Saturday's scrimmages

Cardinal O'Hara at Cleveland Hill, 8 a.m.

St. Francis, Sweet Home and East at Lockport, 9 a.m.

Williamsville North, Burgard, Starpoint and Kenmore West at Clarence, 9 a.m.

Maple Grove and Clymer at Cassadaga Valley, 9 a.m.

V-Hornell at Olean, 9 a.m.

Alden, Wilson and Lew-Port at Medina, 9:30 a.m.

East Aurora and Gowanda at Cattaraugus/Little Valley, at 9:30 a.m.

Riverside and Grand Island at North Tonawanda, 10 a.m.

Maryvale, Grover Cleveland, Eden and three others -- yup, a seven-team scrimmage -- at Williamsville South, 10 a.m.

West Seneca East and Cheektowaga at Canisius, 10 a.m. (Stransky Complex at 2885 Clinton St., West Seneca)

St Joe's at Orchard Park, 10 a.m.

Salamanca, V-Dansville and V-Wellsville at Pioneer, 10 a.m.

Hamburg at Jamestown, 10 a.m.

Southwestern at Randolph, 10 a.m.

Frontier and Lackawanna at Iroquois, 5 p.m.

West Seneca West, Lake Shore and Kenmore East at Amherst, 6 p.m.

Depew and Niagara-Wheatfield at Williamsville East, TBA

Batavia at Albion, TBA

Lancaster at V-Webster Schroeder, 9:30 a.m.

Newfane and V-Charles Finney at V-Elba/Byron-Bergen, 10 a.m.

Niagara Falls, V-Hilton, V-Marshall, V-Spencerport at V-Greece-Olympia, 10 a.m.

---Keith McShea

Reuter a gold medalist for WNY

As assistant sports editor Dennis Danheiser wrote in today's paper and on the Sports, Ink blog, the late Lou Reuter made a major impact on many lives via Kenmore East football. 

I had most of my interaction with Lou in my reporting on the Empire State Games, which he worked tirelessly for.

On Monday, I was blogging about the opening day of football practice when I heard the news. One of my first thoughts was that I'm not sure that I've ever met anyone more committed to his community.

As a Ken-Ton school board member, the Western Region director for the Empire State Games, or through his work as a Kenmore East teacher and coach, the bottom line was that Lou was always working his butt off for kids.

I would call him each year for information on the Empire State Games, and he always had it at the ready or called back immediately with it. From my first phone conversations with him, I was almost taken aback by how he ended the phone call with an enthusiastic "and it's been a pleasure speaking with you Keith."

Various issues would pop up with the Empire Games, whether it was host sites which had venues too far spread out, or even last years catastrophic canceling of the event by Albany. That was when you heard Lou at his most passionate, because he was genuinely fighting for the athletes and the experience they would have at the Games.

The Western Region has a proud history in the Empire State Games, with the areas around Rochester and Buffalo combining to field powerful teams in several sports year after year. That didn't happen by chance. Lou continued that strong tradition because he championed the Empire Games experience to Western athletes -- and especially coaches -- and he instilled the same kind of tradition he did at Kenmore East. That's why the Western region had coaches that came back year after year and had programs that built outstanding levels of excellence. 

His tremendous leadership and hard work attracted good coaches and staff members, which not only made the Western Region better but made the Empire State Games better.

He did often-times painstaking dirty work (like going through a list hundreds of Western athletes, updating me with replacements) because he knew it had to be done. One time I called him for an update on an Empire Games matter, and he got me the information quickly -- even though he and his wife were in the middle of stuffing hundreds of envelopes for a charitable cause, I believe one that was related to the military.

What I will remember about Lou was his leadership, his work ethic, and his enthusiasm ... all of it capped off with a big, strong smile atop his big, strong frame. He will be dearly missed by many, including anyone who worked (or watched him work) for the Empire State Games.

---Keith McShea

Heat is on for first day of football practice

It's a warm one this morning as football teams get started with the first day of practice permitted in the state.St. Joe's goes station to station during a practice you can see (and take pictures of) from Wilton Parkway.

We'll be taking a tour around Western New York on Day One as teams prepare for the season-opening weekend of Sept. 4-5 -- just 18 days away. 

9:55 a.m. Football teams have been at it for a while this morning as I get started. My first stop brings the sound of whistles and the sight of different practice stations being rotated around by the Marauders of St. Joe's (hey, I live in the Northtowns).

I do a quick drive-by (photo) shoot just to get things started.

10:12 a.m. A quick drive up Colvin Ave. brings me to Crosby Field, where a field full of royal blue T-shirts are doing various drills. It's Kenmore West.

Bonus: I pull over next to the field and don't have to use my wireless card -- thanks to some nice Kenmore resident.

Not a bonus: I realize I don't have my News identification, which I don't feel quite comfortable not having as I'm about to go on the field and take some pictures.

Assistant coach J.J. Tutwiler works with the Kenmore West offense. 10:38 a.m. A quick ride home and I'm back at West watching assistant coaches J.J. Tutwiler and Mike Panepinto work with the offense. Tutwiler was a standout Grand Island quarterback in my first year covering high schools -- somebody is feeling a little old.

"It's a hot one," says Panepinto as we lament where this summery weather has been all summer. "You knew it was going to happen," he says with a smile.

11:02 a.m. Just posted a link from the home page of

Also noticed that today there is an ozone advisory

11:10 a.m. Just got some sad news after a call from the office. Lou Reuter has passed away after his lengthy battle with cancer. Reuter was a longtime Kenmore East coach and supporter, a Ken-Ton school board member and I worked with him very closely through the Empire State Games -- he was the Western regional director for about the last decade. I'm not sure I've met anyone more committed to his community than Lou. The Kenmore East locker room now has Lou Reuter's name on its wall. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

My next stop was actually going to be Kenmore East. I'm still headed there but now I'll unfortunately be talking to some Bulldog folks about Lou's passing.

11:55 a.m. Definitely a tough day for Bulldog football. I just spoke with Ken East head coach Matt Chimera, who coached with and against Reuter, as well as Ken East assistant Jeff Martin, who played for him. 

They spoke about "Lou's words," the sayings that he would always use while coaching. He'd say "Holy Mackerel" from time to time, especially when a player wasn't doing what he was supposed to. "There are two seasons -- football season, and waiting for football season," was a big one. 

He might not have invented "Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog," but he sure said it a lot. That's why Chimera and Martin got the magic marker out to add coach Reuter's name to that saying in the East locker room.

When East got word of Reuter's passing during its morning practice, the coaches and the team knelt down in prayer on Sparky Adams Field.

With the heat so bad, the team decided not to practice outside in the afternoon. It was holding a offensive meeting in the locker room when I stopped by.

Daniel Dayton paints a sign that will signify OP's state title last year. 1:11 p.m. After some phone calls and some lunch, it's off to Orchard Park. The goal is to get to the two state champions in Erie County today. Sweet Home will follow since they go until 3 p.m.

2:02 p.m. Had a nice chat with OP coach Gene Tundo as he walked to the parking lot -- I lucked out and caught him as he was walking to his car. I thought practice went until 2 (that's what the OP Web site said) but it went until about 1. 

"Awesome," was how he described the first practice. "The guys are optimistic and are having some fun. The players have worked hard the last four months. It's a lot easier when you have kids who want to excel."

He said he mentioned last year's state championship once -- and that was it.

The Quakers stayed off the turf due to the heat and had regular water breaks built in to the schedule.

2:53 p.m. Arrive at Sweet Home and see noone on the football field -- but a few steps toward the locker room and I can see the team running through drills on the fields behind the bleacher. 

"Didn't we just finish this up?" Sweet Home coach John Faller says of the season already being upon us. "It seems that way to me."

Sweet Home coach John Faller (visor) presides over the Panthers' first practice. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) His approach to Day One of being a defending state champion?

"All I told the kids was: We have that state championship, and noone will ever take it away from us," Faller said, "but the teams that we're playing this year have to beat this year's team, not last year's team. That team is gone.

"It's a case of -- this is your team, your identity: what are you going to be known for this year? They have to get their own identity."

The Panthers were running through offensive plays, with quarterbacks checking with Faller on what to call. There were a few nice completions downfield -- as nice as you could do in a drill with no pads and no defense out there. 

"It's a tough day -- we did testing in the morning, and we're just going through some basics today because you can't do anything with equipment and such. But that's OK. It gives us three days to get our kids adjusted to the terminology. We have a chalk talk to go over things. They'll catch on pretty quick."

It seems that state championship seasons are long -- and offseasons short. And that's a good thing. 

Check out the mini-rainbow caused by the misting hose set up just off to the right. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) "There was so much carryover after the actual championship game, between celebrations and recognitions, people calling you and telling you, because you did as much as you possibly could -- it can be equaled but it can never be beaten," said Faller. "And that goes for all four of our Western New York championship teams. There's nothing wrong with it, but it did seem like the season kept going. There was always somebody calling you to talk about the season and this and this.

"But now, it's like, OK: This is this year. Let's get focused on this."

3:12 p.m. Headed to the home office (in a car which says it is 91 degrees out), then the real office to write up a story for tomorrow's paper on opening day.

Football season has officially begun.

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Be sure to check out Miguel Rodriguez's report from a notable first practice day up in Wilson.

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If you watched -- or participated in -- practice today, of course, let us know what you saw.

---Keith McShea

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

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.

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