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Live from Scrimmage Saturday: Seven stops and 24 teams (with 34 video highlights plus an episode of PrepTalkTV)

Cheektowaga and Eden line up on their first series with the Walden Galleria looming in the background. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

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.

Iroquois' practice field is way behind the school. And I mean wayyyy behind.

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.

The highlights:

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.

* * *

Also check out a photo gallery by Mulville.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

buffalonews.com/highschool     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

High school football: Day One from Lackawanna and Timon

Good news for Lackawanna fans. There's another kid named Smith at quarterback. No, not
Capone or Christian, but their younger brother, Cameron. And he's ready to carry on the family
tradition as signal-caller.

Cameron was one of 32 players who greeted the new season at Monday's first practice on the
field behind the school. He's only a sophomore and is 5-foot-10, 150 pounds, but he's got the
passion and pedigree to lead.

Capone was the 2008 Buffalo News Player of the Year while while Christian, who graduated
last May, was also first team All Western New York, at punter. Sounds like a lot of live up
to.

"They just tell me to play my game, play my own style," said Cameron, who was a running
back last year on the junior varsity. "Just watching them since I was little, we would always
play football with our friends all the time. They tell me to come out here and practice hard.
My brothers were always a team in front of me, so I always watched their games and they always
watched me."

Cameron said he expects his main targets this season to be wide receivers Anthony
Mastrocicco, Shaquille Brooks and his cousin Mike Smith.

The Steelers used the first day of practice to work on basic bag drills, worked on agility,
and some basic install.

They are coming off an 8-2 season which included a berth in the Federation's Class B
championship, which they lost to Alden, 14-12.

Elsewhere, Charlie Comerford, a two-time all-WNY pick before graduating from Timon in 2001, began Day One as head coach of his alma mater, succeeding Al Monaco.

The Tigers have one of their better teams in many years with the addition of six or seven kids who didn't come out last year. But the school with 240 boys still has to contend with Canisius, St. Joe's and St. Francis.

"You need every athlete in the school to come out to be competitive. We have a tough schedule and every game we play will be an uphill battle, but we like it that way," said Comerford. "We've been working out for three days a week for three months, so the kids have been really dedicated. Frankly, they're sick of losing, so they've come out in good numbers and have made this transition real easy."

---Mary Jo Monnin

Live from the Section VI A & B finals: East beats Will South in 2OT; CV tops Lackawanna

Hello from Buffalo State for the last two boys basketball games of the season to be played in Western New York.

In the first game, the overall Class B championship will be determined as B-1 winner Lackawanna faces B-2 winner Cassadaga Valley at 6 p.m. That's followed by the scheduled 7:45 p.m. start for the overall Clas A final between A-1 winner Williamsville South and A-2 champ East High of Buffalo.

We'll have separate "live" blogs on each game.

* * *

The winners move on to Saturday's Far West Regionals against the champions of Section V (Rochester area).

The box scores for both games will be up at our scoreboard page as soon as possible.

After the games, let us know what you thought of the action -- and the regionals -- in the comments section.

* * *

Here's my game story on East's double-overtime win over South.

Here's Allen Wilson's game story on Cassadaga Valley keeping its playoff ride going.

---Keith McShea

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

Tuesday Night Live: Lackawanna routs JFK, 55-34 (with video)

Wednesday's games are in trouble, but tonight's go on. It's a busy night and although the schedule doesn't present any obvious blockbuster matchups, we've found one to our liking.

We're just off Abbott and Martin Roads as Lackawanna hosts JFK in a ECIC IV game that certainly has some storylines going. 

The Steeler has a lot to be smiling about tonight -- not pictured is the Steeler's hammer (nice!). (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) Both teams have gotten a whiff of the small school top 10, with JFK getting a couple of votes this week.

JFK beat visiting Lackawanna, 72-49, on Dec. 22. I'm pretty sure that game was one in which Lackawanna had lineup problems. Most notably, seniors Dondre Alexander and Christian Cheatom have missed games due to suspensions or other issues. But now both are back. With both in the lineup, Lackawanna has a win over Tonawanda, which is the No. 9 small school and is the only school to beat JFK in league play.

7:08 p.m. We've got two minutes counting down on the scoreboard.

It's Coaches vs. Cancer night here and they are taking donations at the door.

Check out our basketball scoreboard through the evening -- and every evening -- for updates on all the action.

7:13 p.m. We're underway. Lackawanna turnover by Alexander followed by a Sean Fox layup for JFK; 2-0 JFK.

Cheatom blocked by Brandon Kacala, which sends JFK off and running -- they miss the break but Ryan Kowal scores while being fouled. 4-0 as he goes to the line with 6:42 left. Free throw is good; JFK, 5-0.

Cheatom turnover on an over and back. JFK turnover.

7:16 p.m. Alexander is fouled and hits the jumper with 5:56 left in the first. Free throw is good; JFK, 5-3.

Three-pointer by Raytrel Finley; Finley steals and finds Cheatom with a great pass but it doesn't go down; Shane Dayley with a nice block on defense; JFK turnover. Tied at 5-5 under five minutes to go in first.

7:20 p.m. Timeout JFK after a nice spurt from Lackawanna. A turnover by JFK was followed by a push by Finley, a handoff to Alexander, who shook a defender and nailed a jumper. Finley stole the inbounds pass and scored to make it 10-5 Lackawanna with 3:45 left in the first.

Kowal down low is blocked by Daley, Alexander comes down with another shake-and-jumper from just inside three-point range. Turnover Lackawanna, turnover JFK. Alexander tries a three and misses.

7:23 p.m. Sean Fox drives, gets a foul call -- although Lackawanna coach Tim Foley (and I) didn't see much -- and the ball falls through; 12-7 with 2:28 left in the first. Free throw is missed. Can I get a "the ball don't lie?"

Cheatom strong drive misses; ball stays with Steelers. Finley's three is in-and-out; offensive over-the-back foul on 6-3 junior Admir Merhizic.

Misses by by both teams followed by a nice fast-break finish by Cheatom.

Some wild action with Lackawanna's Alexander picking a JFK player's pocket, then adding another shake-and-jumper for a 16-7 Lackawanna lead in the final minute.

7:26 p.m. Kowal to the line after another foul on Merhizic; he misses first, makes second; Lackawanna, 16-9 with just over 30 seconds left.

Foul on JFK allows Lackawanna to have the last shot. Alexander misses, out of bounds to JFK with 4.6 seconds left. Daley steals a pass but his buzzer-beater misses. 

7:28 p.m. At the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER, Lackwanna leads JFK, 16-9.

7:29 p.m. JFK over the back on first possession; Lackawanna turnover. 

Christian Boettcher follows a missed three; Lackawanna, 16-11.

Nice kickout pass from Daley to Alexander, who nails a three for a 19-11 lead. Man, Alexander is on.

7:31 p.m. Ken Minorczyk to the line -- nice pass set him up down low but he was fouled by Cheatom. Misses both with 6:28 left in second.

Turnover Lackawanna by Christian Smith; super-quick Finley nearly steals it back; JFK miss; JFk called for blocking foul. 

Smith scores on a nice pass; Lackawanna up, 21-11. Lackawanna steal and Cheatom sprints to sky for a layup and a 23-11 lead.

7:34 p.m. JFK coach Tony Krupski calls timeout with 5:20 left in the second quarter.

Fans (and maybe some teachers?) pleased to hear the Lackawanna announce that there is no school here tomorrow.

7:36 p.m. Alexander with another killer jumper on a fadeaway at the free throw line as he falls backwards. Lackawanna, 25-11.

Cheatom to the line after some nice ball movement; 4:16 left in second. Hits first. Misses second. Lackawanna, 26-11.

Nice defense by Lackawanna leads to a turnover by JFK on a rebound. Cheatom hits a leaner in the lane; Lackawanna, 28-11, with 3:42 left in second.

7:39 p.m. Sean Fox to the line for JFK with 3:37 left after a foul in transition. Hits both; Lackawanna, 28-13.

Turnover as Cheatom steps on the baseline. Fox hits a jumper for JFK (28-15).

Alexander again with a fadeaway jumper -- while being fouled. Whoa.

Free throw is good but it is waved off on a lane violation. Lackawanna leads, 30-15, with 2:45 left in second.

7:41 p.m. Timeout, Lackawanna.

Pressure forces JFK turnover. Lackawanna miss; Cheatom offensive foul.

Was doing some iPhone-ing of a great finish for Lackawanna which you'll see later:

Cheatom with a fast-break putback; Alexander with a great dish to Christian Smith for another basket; and, following a make by JFK, Lackawanna is off and running and who else would take the last shot? Alexander speeds to the lane, jumps, hangs, shoots, ball rolls around rim, falls in, buzzer sounds.

Here's the video of the last three baskets of the half (and don't ask me why Lackawanna's gym looks yellow -- it did last year on my videos):

What a half for Alexander. I have to get the stats. Tremendous performance by the senior and the rest of the Steelers. 

7:44 p.m. At HALFTIME, Lackawanna leads JFK, 36-17.

Alexander had 18 points in the first half. Whoa.

7:58 p.m. Second half is under way after some running around by me to get that point total.

JFK comes out and Brandon Kacala scores to get Bear fans fired up; soon after Alexander drives and dishes to Smith for a 38-19 lead.

Alexander runs a very pretty break, feeding Cheatom with a bounce pass in the lane (40-19).

JFK miss; Cheatom dishes to Christian Smith for a fast-break basket (42-19).

JFK miss, JFK foul with 5:40 left in third; Lackawanna turnover with 5:24 left.

8:03 p.m. JFK's Kowal scores inside; foul Lackawanna; Kacala to the line after a foul on Daley with 4:09 left in third. Hits first; misses second; Lackawanna, 42-22.

8:05 p.m. JFK miss; Cheatom skies around a defender attempting to take a charge and scores a layup for a 44-22 Lackawanna lead and Steelers coach Tim Foley calls a timeout.

8:07 p.m. Missed jumper by JFK -- there have been a lot of those tonight -- followed by Alexander losing the handle and then jumping on the ball to call a timeout with 2:39 left in the third.

Sidenote: Great job by the Steeler mascot -- I love that he (she?) actually has a hammer to go with the outfit. Also, the Steeler has been fully incorporated into the Lackawanna cheerleading team's routines, getting lifted up in the air and everything. Fun stuff.

8:09 p.m. Steelers come otut of the timeout wit the sign of a good team -- running a nice play as Alexander drives and dishes to Merhizic, who scores in the lane for a 46-22 lead for the Steelers.

Double foul with 2:06 left in third, Steeler ball. Offensive foul on Lackawanna.

JFK airball three. Alexander pull-up in lane spins out, Steelers get ball back but a curious three-second call is made. JFK miss. Cheatom scores baseline from Daley. JFK misses at the buzzer.

8:13 p.m. At the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, Lackawanna leads JFK, 48-22.

Obviously a very impressive performance by the Steelers. Their pressure defense seems to have forced some poor shooting along with several turnovers; meanwhile, Alexander has been excellent.

8:14 p.m. Christian Boettcher scores for JFK to start this quarter as well (48-24). Daley travel on a three-point attempt. Miss three by JFK. Alexander miss baseline, followed by a JFK fast-break in which Boettcher went up for a shot and was fouled by a hustling-back Cheatom. Was a clean foul but Boettcher went down hard; seems like a hand or wrist deal but he's up on his own power.

He's replaced by Ryan Kowal at the line, who makes one (48-25) with 6:55 left.

Alexander miss, Daley miss, Cheatom over the back with 6:37 left. JFK to the line for one-and-one by Kowal: Makes first, misses second (48-26).

Alexander too quick for his own good and turns it over; JFK's Sean Fox fast breaks and is fouled. He hits first, misses second with 6:21 left (48-27).

8:19 p.m. Finley drives and dishes to Daley, who hands off to Cheatom, who is fouled on a drive with 6:06 left. First is good, second is good; Lackawanna, 50-27.

Kowal is fouled on a fast-break, gives Finley a bump after the play and it is well addressed by the official. No technical, but he gave him a talking to at the line. Kowal misses first, misses second with 5:40 left.

8:22 p.m. Lackawanna coach Foley calls timeout with 5:20 left and is frustrated with Alexander, who is doing too much dribbling. Lackawanna 50, JFK 27.

8:24 p.m. Ben Zaccagnino with a putback for JFK (50-29). Daley with a miss; Lackawanna ball.

Another Lackawanna miss and Daley is fouled out on a call Lackawanna nor I saw. Sean Fox to the line for JFK with 4:17 left; misses first, misses second, rebound out of bounds to JFK.

JFK miss; foul on Christian Smith and he has fouled out with 4:10 left. JFK is in the double bonus (more than 10 fouls on Lackawanna); JFK has committed four fouls. Zaccagnino to the line: misses first, makes second (50-30).

Alexander tripped with 4:00 left. Fox steals and lays it in for a 50-32 game. Nice dish by Alexander to Cheatom but his foot is on the baseline. Donald Schenk to the line after being fouled on a drive with 3:33 left. Misses first, misses second. 

8:30 p.m. Alexander pump fakes a defender and draws an foul that's not called. JFK turnover. Lackawanna coach Foley calls a timeout with 3:00 left and the Steelers up, 50-32.

8:32 p.m. Turnover by Cheatom bringing the ball upcourt.

Alexander does a very nice job to rip the ball from Fox then go in for a layup while being fouled by Fox with 2:33 left. Free throw is good; Lackawanna, 53-32.

8:34 p.m. Alexander just got taken out of the game -- he got a little applause from the small crowd here but he deserved some more.

Merhizic scores on a fast-break for Lackawanna (55-32); under 1:30.

James Quinn layup for JFK (55-34). Turnover Lackawanna; Nick Sikora to the line with 42.7 seconds left for JFK, misses both.

8:37 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Lackawanna 55, JFK 34.

Time for interviews and stats; box score will be up at our basketball scoreboard as soon as I can type it up.

Post-game show:

* * *

Check out that handy dandy basketball scoreboard for a ton of results from a very busy night and many recaps to peruse.

Biggest result to me -- other than the Lackawanna game (patting myself on the back for coming here) -- is Hutch-Tech outscoring Riverside on the road. Great result for Tech as Riverside continues to struggle. ... Orchard Park takes Will North to OT on the road. ... Good to see a young Nichols team growing up with its first league win. ... Barker gave Newfane a good fight. ... Jamestown's win a pretty expected one.

---Keith McShea

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

Prep Talk Live's Class B replay: Alden vs. Lackawanna

Go to the Prep Talk Live page for blogging, video and photos from all of the Section VI championships at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Let us know what you thought of the game in the comments section.

---Keith McShea

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

Southwestern's 36-game win streak tied for third-longest in nation

Thanks to Prep Talk blog first-ballot Hall of Famer Milt Latimer for this one: Southwestern's 36-game win streak, which is one short of the Western New York record of 37 held by Lackawanna (it ended in 1999), is also tied for the third-longest win streak in the nation.

Calpreps.com keeps track of the streaks, which became notable this weekend when Reidsville of North Carolina lost to Cummings, 28-7, over the weekend.

Southwestern is tied with a team from Kentucky (Highlands) and Tennessee (Alcoa) at 36, and the top spot isn't too far off. The top win streak of 39 is owned by West Rowan of Mt. Ulla, N.C., while Phoebus of Hampton, Va., is second at 37.

That's not all -- Sweet Home is next on the list behind Southwestern, tied with Hamilton of Chandler, Ariz., for sixth at 33.

---Keith McShea

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

Live from Scrimmage Saturday: Six sites, 22 teams and one battle of state champs (with video)

It's Scrimmage Saturday for high school football in New York State -- the first day teams can scrimmage against others this season -- and we'll be hitting the road to catch the action.

Cleveland Hill's offense lines up against Cardinal O'Hara as Scrimmage Saturday gets started. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) News Web reporter Joseph Popiolkowski and I are going to visit a few scrimmages today.

Check here for updates of what we've seen; we'll also be putting together an episode of PrepTalkTV about our travels. I'll also post some phone videos of my own.

8:48 a.m. There are a ton of scrimmages today, but our first will be Cleveland Hill, which is hosting Burgard and Cardinal O'Hara at 9 a.m. Then it's up to Lockport for a huge six-team meeting.

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).

I remember Witkowski playing in last season's semifinal loss at North Tonawanda, but the first thing I think of is how he was involved in the hoops play that ended with's Troy Nowak's game-winning buzzer-beater that beat Jamestown last season.

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.

Another Scrimmage Saturday, another walk down the dirt road behind Iroqouis High. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) 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.

* * *

We appreciate your patience with the new look of the comments as well as the registration procedure. Our Web team is still working on having the comments appear at the bottom of every page, which will help the flow of the conversation.

If you are having any problems with registration or have any feedback you'd like to offer, email me at kmcshea@buffnews.com.

---Keith McShea

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Monday Night Live from Buffalo State: Cleve Hill, Olean and Depew move on (with video)

Championship week is here, and it starts with what could be the best semifinal day of the week at Buffalo State.

Three games, starting with CCAA I power and year-long top 10 resident Allegany-Limestone taking on ECIC IV upstart Cleveland HIll at 5:30 p.m. in a B-2 semifinal.

That's followed by the highly anticipated B-1 semifinals, a final four of top 10 small schools. At 7 p.m., three-time overall Class B champion and No. 1 small school Olean takes on a dangerous Grover Cleveland team that struggled late in the regular season but the Presidents got Ricky Alejandro back for the quarterfinals and he had eight(!) threes in a very nice win at Medina. The final game of the day is a terrific matchup as ECIC III runner-up Depew takes on ECIC IV champion Lackawanna in an 8:30 scheduled start.

I've seen 12 games in the last seven days, will see 17 in the next six. It's the best week of the year in Western New York high school sports, and it should get off to a great start.

5:22 p.m. We're courtside and ready for our first game. NOTE to ALL FANS to get here EARLY this week. Buffalo State's main large parking lot is now a construction site, so parking spots are at a premium.

5:28 p.m. Also a reminder to fans that Section VI likes starting games ahead of time. Teams have been announced and the tipoff is next. 

I'm going with Allegany-Limestone big. They've been here before and have a lot of players back from last year, which is why they have have been ranked all year -- just destroying teams not named Olean, Jamestown and Bradford (Pa.). Cleveland Hill has had a great season but I'm not sure they'll be able to keep up.

5:41 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, Allegany-Limestone leads Cleveland Hill, 14-10. A-L is getting some good shots while Cleve Hill is taking some bad ones.

5:50 p.m. With 2:45 left in the second quarter, Cleve Hill calls a timeout having cut the lead to 24-22. Golden Eagles have stepped up the energy on defense.

5:52 p.m. A-L calls the timeout this time with 1:25 left in the second. Omar Ramadan hit a deep three from the right side just moments ago to give Cleve Hill a 25-24 lead, its first of the game.

5:55 p.m. A-L gets a timeout on a scramble with 5.6 seconds left and the score tied at 26-26.

5:57 p.m. Nice finish of the quarter for Cleve Hill as Darryl Spencer blocks an A-L shot before the buzzer. At halftime we are tied at 26-26.

Nice job by Cleve Hill. Spencer has had a lot of energy on both ends. I thought A-L would be able to execute a little better on offense and perhaps be able to put away Cleve Hill early, but the Golden Eagles can only get more confident as the game goes on. Should be an interesting second half.

6:15 p.m. With 2:17 left in the third quarter, Allegany-Limestone calls a timeout. Cleve Hill is up, 37-34.

6:19 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, Cleveland Hill has a 42-34 lead. A great tip in by Spencer and a late three by No. 10 (sorry, no rosters!) helped the Eagles to a 9-2 quarter-ending run.

6:22 p.m. Good timeout by Cleve Hill coach Jason Pryzbysz with 7:00 left and A-L having cut the lead to 42-38 on two consecutive strong drives by Marcus Aiello and Nate Keenan.

6:30 p.m. Some great action from Cleve Hill earned it a 12-point lead at 50-38, but A-L just got a three from Aiello to make it 50-42. Timeout, A-L with 3:28 left in the game.

6:33 p.m. A-L is turning up the defensive pressure and Cleve Hill calls a timeout while being trapped. Eagles lead, 50-43, with 3:08 left.

6:42 p.m. A-L with a timeout after a made basket; Cleve Hill leads, 55-50, with 57.6 seconds left.

6:47 p.m. Cleve Hill holding on in crunch time, just barely. One free throw by Aaron Sanders gives it a 57-52 lead with 22.2 seconds left -- timeout, Cleve Hill.

Cleveland Hill scorebook Allegany-Limestone scorebook 6:50 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE in B-2 semifinal: Cleveland Hill 59, Allegany-Limestone 54.

Huge win for the Golden Eagles, and they deserved it. Very well-played game, composed and under control in a big-time contest.

Continue reading "Monday Night Live from Buffalo State: Cleve Hill, Olean and Depew move on (with video)" »

Wrapping up the Section VI wrestling championships

Here are the Division I and Division II stories from the Section VI wrestling championship. And here are plenty of extras from the Division II meet Saturday night at Niagara County Community College. But first, a couple observations.

1. This was the second straight year NCCC served as host for the event, and it's a great venue. There's plenty of parking, and NCCC coach Eric Knuutilla (one of the nicest men you could ever meet) does a great job having the gym ready. The support staff, including announcers and officials, also do a good job of keeping everything moving as close to on time as possible.

2. Another thank you to Ross Conti, an assistant coach at Fredonia and committee member of the Wrestling Review of Western New York, the group that does such a great job seeding and ranking area wrestlers. Conti is a walking encyclopedia of wrestling knowledge.

112-pound champion Tom Page, Eden: Page moved ahead with a takedown in the second period to defeat teammate eighth-grade teammate Alex Smythe. Here's Page's father, also Tom Page, on what it's like for two teammates to wrestle each other: "It's extremely difficult because they're so familiar with each other's style. It's unfair to both, but some coaches say it's a privilege. I'm proud of both of the athletes, because they've done a fantastic job."

The elder Page said he wrestled both at 112 because they were the best at that weight class and deserved a chance to showcase what they could do at the sectional level. Nothing wrong with that logic.

119-pound champion Kevin Strong, Frewsburg: It's the second trip to states for Strong, who improved to 43-2 on the season. Here he is on his game plan from Saturday: "I was working on holding him down and taking it slow. Once I got my points I was very careful." Strong beat Newfane's David Ciaramella, 9-0.

125-pound champion Emory Rowe, Ripley: The smallest wrestling school in Western New York had two finalists, including one champion in Rowe. He scored a late takedown to earn a 5-3 decision over Jake Baer of Olean, a raw talent in just his third year of wrestling. Here's Rowe on the end of the match: "I was just looking for an opening and I saw him loosen up, so I dove for it and got it."

140-pound champion Devin Kramer, Depew: The Most Outstanding Wrestler of the meet scored three late points to break a 2-2 tie with Ben Haas of Salamanca and win his second sectional title (he won at 130 last year). The 130- and 140-pound divisions are packed with talented wrestlers. Kramer, a senior who is a member of the Cobra Wrestling Academy, is 36-4 on the season.

145-pound champion: Dominic Montesanti, Medina: Montesanti put forth a dominant performance despite being hampered by a knee injury. He's wrestling on a torn meniscus in his right knee. Here he is on competing hurt: "It's been a real bother, but it's my senior so I couldn't get surgery. It would put me out for the rest of the year. I have one last chance to be a state champion, so I have to tough it out."

Montesanti took sixth at the state tournament last year after dislocating his elbow and having to injury forfeit two matches at 140.

171-pound champion John Mistretta, Southwestern: Mistretta beat Greg Burroughs of Fredonia for the third time this season, never the easiest thing to do. Mistretta has a unique style that could make him a tough out at the state tournament.

189-pound champion Colin Palmer, East Aurora: Palmer is unbeaten on the season (24-0) after missing time early due to injury.

215-pound champion Pat Langworthy, Southwestern: Langworthy (33-6), a junior, won a wild weight class. Consider: the seventh seed, Panama's Cody DiDomenico, beat No. 2 Bashar Srouji of Lew-Port in the quarterfinals. Langworthy, the third seed, then beat DiDomenico. On the other side of the bracket, top seed Justin Taylor of Portville was upset by fourth seed Jake Eddington of Gowanda in the semifinals.

285-pound champion Theo King, Roy-Hart: King and 96-pounder Zach Bickle won titles for the Rams. Here's King on what he hopes it means for the Niagara-Orleans League school: "I hope it can inspire more people to come out for the team next year and continue to build the tradition of the program."

That's it for now, although we may have some video later of a few matches (if I can figure out the technology).

---Jay Skurski






Grover wins at Lackawanna, 82-79 (with video)

Grover Cleveland and Lackawanna didn't disappoint in their top 5 small school battle as Grover won a thriller, 82-79.

A huge game for Ricky Alejandro, who scored three of his four three-pointers in the fourth quarter and was excellent in the final 2:18 after Chris Holland fouled out. Holland's fifth foul was on a three-pointer by Orlando Santiago, who hit all three to give Lackawanna a 73-72 lead.

I'll have a ton more details and video clips later tonight. 

* * *

Sorry for the delay -- I came into the office and wrote up the hoops stuff for tonight.

The game was very entertaining for many reasons. Great action on the court, great momentum swings, great finish. Also, a nice little battle between Lackawanna fans -- including former Steeler LeSean Blackburn (of the 2006 state champions) directly to my right -- and Grover fans woofing back and forth. Some serious woofing, but nothing more. Like I said, very entertaining. 

* * * 

OK, video time. To start: I hereby apologize to any photographer who I rolled my eyes at when they complained that, "the light is terrible in here."

I now feel their pain. These highlights look like they are sitting in a medical jar or something. Or a pickle jar? A great shade of very-old-newspaper yellow. Your descriptions are welcome. Anyways, let's go to the video: 

Here's where Alejandro helped Grover take control of the game -- the clip starts with the last two of three made free throws by Santiago, then the Ricky A. show starts (with some help from his teammates, of course). But it's not every day you see a go-ahead three-pointer, followed by a behind-the-back fast-break pass, and all in the final two minutes. 

Lackawanna took a timeout with 1:41 left, trailing, 77-73. Alejandro added two free throws for a 79-73 lead.

The Steelers made it exciting thanks to a clutch three-pointer by Santiago -- he hits a lot of those it seems, and I've just seen this game and the Cleveland Hill squeaker. After two free throws from Gary Green, Santiago gets the ball off a steal and a scramble gets the Lackawanna fans (including Blackburn) fired up.

The teams went back and forth on the free throw line for the next few points. Grover held a 81-79 lead when Kenny Pringle went to the line. He hit the first for the 82-79 lead. The next video starts with his second free throw and ends with the end of the game.

* * *

Some reaction from Grover:

And some good old-fashioned quotes from Lackawanna coach Tim Foley:

Continue reading "Grover wins at Lackawanna, 82-79 (with video)" »

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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.

@KeithMcSheaBN | kmcshea@buffnews.com

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