* Another of Eden's fab four seniors in volleyball, Katie Eschner, is headed to Roberts Wesleyan in suburban Rochester.
* Check out the bios of Willie Ruiz of Canisius and Matt Fox of Maple Grove, who are both playing football at Robert Morris.
* Read up on five locals heading to Gannon football: Ian Kennedy, Bishop Timon-St. Jude; Keith Bykowski and Matthew Hornung, Cheektowaga; Ryan Sweet, East Aurora and Jeff Bellanca, St. Joe's (also baseball).
* Amanda Serafini of Frontier softball is off to Davis & Elkins in Elkins, W. Va.
* Kyle McLain of Canisius will play baseball at Washington & Jefferson, which is ranked in the Division III top 25.
* Jamie Nash of JFK will play softball atop South Hill with the Ithaca College Bombers, ranked in the Division III national top 25.
Have an update to the list or information like is posted here? See the top of the college list page for guildelines and e-mail me.
7:11 p.m. We're at St. Mary's School For The Deaf for the first time and watching a very spirited game between Tapestry and Maritime, two charter schools squaring off in Class C.
7:20 p.m. It's 16-16 after one quarter after Maritime got a steal and layup at the buzzer. Tapestry had started strong.
We're off to Sweet Home, which is hosting Kenmore West.
We have a report than Williamsville North is up at Lancaster, 18-9, after the first. That's another game I'm considering trying to get to.
7:44 p.m. Got to Sweet Home just in time for a special moment as Deshanaro Morris had his No. 4 retired by Sweet Home at halftime. I'll have pictures and a video of Day-Day's speech up as soon as I can.
I might not stick around too much longer, however. It's halftime and Sweet Home is up, 36-18.
Then again, maybe I'll stay. North is up, 39-24 at halftime at Lancaster.
8:01 p.m. Sweet Home keeps rolling. North's lead is under 10. I'm outta here.
8:31 p.m. I made it here for the last few minutes of a big victory for Williamsville North, which wins it, 68-57.
The scorebooks are at right.
Here's Will North coach Chuck Swierski on the win and the Spartans making a trip to top-seeded Orchard Park for Friday's quarterfinals:
I'm headed to the office to write some stuff up for the paper and add some details and clips here.
I'll be able to type faster -- a keyboard instead of a phone will help :-).
SANBORN -- Greetings from Niagara County Community College, site of the Section VI wrestling championships this weekend. Division I (large schools), finished a couple hours ago, while Division II (small schools will wrestle all day Saturday, with finals set to start at 4:30 p.m.
We're finished with our print responsibilities for the night and have plenty of notes left over to share. First, an observation: The simple finalist information sheet each coach fills out for his wrestlers is a valuable tool for the announcer and media in attendance. One of the toughest aspects of covering high schools sports is the availability of (reliable) statistical information, so when coaches have stuff like that prepared, it helps journalists write a better, more complete story on their student-athletes.
On to the winners and some information about them, as well as additional quotes that didn't make the paper.
96-pound champion: Steve Michel, Lancaster: Michel beat teammate Eric Lewandowski, 4-3, in a match I'm not sure either wanted to wrestle. Lewandowski was emotional after the loss, while Michel didn't seem to take much happiness out of his second straight 96-pound title. Here he is on the move that gave him the deciding points: "I shot a sweep single, then I hooked his leg and I stepped over."
103: Ronald Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowaga: The Class AAA winner improved his record to 32-5 and was the youngest competitor (eighth grade) to win a sectional title.
112: Tim Schaefer, Lancaster: Schaefer is 3-for-3 in sectional tournaments. He won at 96 in seventh grade, 103 last year and now 112 as a freshman.
119: Dylan Caruana, Kenmore West: One of the best matches of the night, Caruana held off Daiquann Burney of Sweet Home with a late reversal for a 6-3 decision. Here's Caruana on the fantastic finish: "The end was really exciting. I just didn’t want to give up that take down. He was about to get behind me and I couldn’t let him do it. I was only up by a point, so it was real close." Caruana has won two most outstanding wrestler awards this season, at the Orchard Park Tournament and last week at the AAAA tourney.
125: Joey Malvestuto, Niagara-Wheatfield: Plenty on this match in the print product, but a quick note: Malvestuto has overcome a broken hand and knee injury this season. He's rounding into form and improved to 31-3. Opponent Ben Mikac lost his first match of the season, falling to 34-1.
130: Joe Kalinka, Iroquois: The first of three Iroquois champions on the night, Kalinka (46-2) will make his second straight tip to states. He won the AAA tourney last week, while his opponent, Mike Feeney of Lockport, won the AAAA tourney.
135: Pat Mix, Lake Shore: Both Mix and opponent Zack Fummerelle had just one loss entering the mach. Mix took control with an early takedown, then held on for the win. Nice celebration by the Lake Shore coaches and Mix after the match, too. A school not known for its wrestling program made nice strides this season.
140: Jimmy Kloc, Iroquois: Kloc, who is a pitbull on the mat, looked like he was going to cruise, but Gage Bateman of Sweet Home gave him all he could handle. A fitting final for a weight class my wrestling go-to guy, Fredonia assistant coach Ross Conti, called the deepest of the tournament.
145: Jacob Beichner, Williamsville East: Beichner was the only wrestler not seeded first or second (he was third) to win. His reaction after winning showed all that's right with high school sports: a tearful hug with his parents. Here's Beichner on what the win meant to him: "He was beating me up pretty good in the beginning, but I’ve been training my whole life for this moment. I just wasn’t going to let that stop me. I knew he was getting tired and he was breaking. It’s my senior year, I just went full force." The loss was the first of the season for Irvin Buck of Niagara Falls.
152: Kris Duge, Clarence: It was the 38th win of the season for Duge, a senior.
160: Raleigh Defields, Iroquois: Defields was struck with pneuomia during the season and didn't start to get healthy until the end of January. He had dropped an earlier decision by one point to his opponent Friday, Lancaster's Sean Woods. Defields was a fun interview after his match. Here's some of what he had to say: "I set a goal as a freshman that I always wanted to at least win [a] class [tournament] and going to states is just an awesome bonus." On his recovery: "I've been busting my hump in practice getting my conditioning levels back and it paid off because I could have gone another minute if need be." On the end of the match, which went to overtime: "I looked up at the clock with five seconds left, held on for dear life and smiled."
171: Tony Lock, Pioneer: A sophomore who has progressively improved this season, Lock picked up his 40th win.
189: Angelo Malvestuto, Niagara-Wheatfield: Falcons coach Rick Sweney called him the best wrestler ever to come through Niagara-Wheatfield, which sums up Malvestuto's career well. He was the only one to record a pin Friday night.
215: Kyle Colling, Pioneer: A 2009 national champion, the only surprise in Colling's title is that it didn't come by pinfall. According to Conti, it's believed Colling could become the first wrestler in state history to win class titles in Division I and II, due to Pioneer moving up to Division I this season (he won Division II last year).
285: Jim Donner, Niagara-Wheatfield: Donner gets a chance to build on his fifth-place finish at last year's state tournament.
Talk to you tomorrow from the Division II tournament.
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.
* * *
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.
* * *
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.
* * *
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.
* * *
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.
The actual poll starts next week, so this, just like everything in high school football the past two weeks, is just practice. That's right, we're talkin bout practice.
So much so that -- hours after we submitted a top 10 list for publication in the paper -- we have second thoughts about a bunch of this top 10, particularly the large schools. If most polls should be taken with a grain of salt, this one should be taken with 1/10th of a grain.
1. Orchard Park (13-0 last year) [last year's final poll: 1] - A no-brainer to end last year, a no-brainer to start this year.
2. Sweet Home (13-0)  - They might not be the state championship-caliber team they were a year ago (last year's depth was phenomenal), but we still like them here.
3. North Tonawanda (9-1)  - A lot back from a team that gave OP a tough test. You could argue they could be No. 2. Preseason-wise, we clearly see the top three, then a bunch of more teams.
4. Iroquois (8-2)  - Call it scrimmage bias after being fairly impressed with them on their Field of Dreams. After how low I voted them last year, they shouldn't be up this high. But certainly a great year-after-year program that should be in the top 10.
5. Lancaster (6-3)  - Speaking of great year-after-year, here's another top 10 team. We eagerly await the battles of AA South.
6. St. Francis (4-6)  - They beat Canisius when it counted last year, so we gave them a slight edge here, as we did in last year's final poll. Yet another top program which should be in the mix. Another murderous schedule this year.
7.Canisius (6-4)  - On paper they lost a lot, but so did they teams ahead of them. Proof that Nos. 4-7 in this poll could be interchangable. This year their schedule might be just as murderous as Frannies' (both play Ohio's St. Ignatius, Rochester's Aquinas and Pennsylvania's Cathedral Prep).
8. Riverside (10-1)  - The Harvard Cup
champions kept a lot of talent and welcomed top lineman Sean Mulhern of Canisius. With no nonleague games for Harvard Cup teams this year, it's pure guesswork how they stack up against the rest of Western New York. Talk about a poll headache.
9. Kenmore West (6-3)  - Here's a nod to the Blue Devils playing OP tough in the postseason (two losses at OP, one at NT). We err on the side of what you did last year, rather than offseason hype, and we reserve the right to change our mind once the teams hit the field :-).
10. Williamsville South (6-4) [NR] - A whole lot back from last year's team, so we'll throw the Billies in this spot, slightly edging out Grand Island, a top 10 team that's not in the top 10 (I have Frontier right after that at 12, for what it's worth). And well, would you look at this: Saturday afternoon -- Williamsville South at Grand Island.
1. Southwestern (13-0)  - Too many weapons back to not be in this spot.
2. Maple Grove (13-0)  - All signs point to these two being atop the poll for a while. But I guess that's why they play the games.
3. Lackawanna (10-1)  - We'll keep the Steelers up high despite the loss of Capone Smith. Like Iroquois, this might be a case of seeing Lackawanna scrimmage (and scrimmage well).
4. Fredonia (8-2)  - Another slot-them-in-from-last-year, although this year's schedule (C) might hurt them in the polls (to the bunch at B).
5. Cleveland Hill (8-1)  - A bunch back from a team that was a top three program last year until losing to Silver Creek in last year's semis.
6. Depew (6-3)  - When in doubt, rank the teams that are usually ranked.
7. Alden (8-1)  - Might be generous considering what they lost in graduation.
8. Cardinal O'Hara (6-4)
 - Four Monsignor Martin small school titles in a row make them one of the best small schools. They looked it on Scrimmage Saturday, too.
9. Randolph (6-3) [NR] - Could make some noise Friday night at Maple Grove.
10. Cheektowaga (4-5) [NR] - You'd think these guys will be in the top 10 after dropping down from Class A. We shall see -- starting Friday when the Warriors host high-powered Medina.
Our small-school poll regret? Probably not making room for Burgard. We'll call them the small school version of Grand Island (the 11th top 10 team).
Don't like what you're reading? The comment space is below.
Also, visit here Wednesday for a live chat with yours truly at 7 p.m.
It's a warm one this morning as football teams get started with the first day of practice permitted in the state.
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.
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.
11:10 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.
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.
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."
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.
"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.
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.