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Tuesday Night Live: East, crippled by suspensions, falls at McKinley; NT sweeps Falls; Maryvale wins at Depew (with video)

Greetings on the busiest night of boys basketball all year. Lots of games, lots of big matchups.

4:51 p.m. Just got a call from fellow reporter Lauren Mariacher, who headed to Burgard to shoot video of Grover Cleveland's 4:15 p.m. game there. There was no game and she was told by a student that it had been called off.

She's headed to McKinley's hosting of East (5:30), and so am I. The plan is to head to Niagara Falls at North Tonawanda and possibly Maryvale at Depew after that.

6:39 p.m. Quite the developments here at McKinley, which took a 42-26 halftime lead on East. Yes, you read that right.

Ten of East's players, including all five starters, were suspended prior to the game and the Panthers were forced to go with JV callups to fill out its lineup for today. The suspensions were due to academic reasons.

The length of the suspensions is not known -- they are at least for one week, according to coach Starling Bryant. The length of the suspensions could also differ for different players.

Said Bryant during halftime: "It could be one week, it could be two weeks or it could be permanent. They didn't do what they were supposed to do academically. They didn't hold up their end of the bargain. At East, it's academics first. It could be a week, or it could be sectionals, and I'll go with the young boys."

East entered the game 12-2 overall, co-ranked second among large schools in Western New York, and 9-0 in the Yale Cup. The Panthers were one of two unbeatens in the Yale Cup (along with Middle College, which won Monday to go to 10-0). 

6:46 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, McKinley leads East, 59-41.

The five East starters who were suspended were Domonique Jackson, Tremell Fisher, Andre Jackson, Dale Gray and Deon Robinson.

The only two regulars not to get suspended are Jason Oden and Chris Boyd.

6:49 p.m. The McKinley lead is up to 63-41 with 6:44 left in the game.

This is clearly a major blow to East, which I had voted No. 1 in the large school poll the last three weeks. The Panthers were the favorite in A-2 and had the kind of team, I thought, that was capable of a run to Glens Falls. Many fans were already looking forward to a East-Williamsville South overall Class A final.

We'll have to see. If East gets enough of its players back by sectionals, they may still be able to make that kind of run. The Yale Cup is a much different story, and Middle College is now firmly in front of what was expected to be a thrilling finish. Middle, Grover and East have yet to play this season -- the first game among them over an exciting final two weeks is Middle College's game at Grover Cleveland on Thursday.

6:53 p.m. McKinley 71, East 44 with 4:30 left in the game. Stunning stuff.

Many of the suspended East players are watching the game from the front row of the bleachers. Tough lesson to learn for those guys. Hopefully it's not to late for them to perhaps turn things around -- in the classroom and then on the basketball court.

7:02 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: McKinley 84, East 53.

I'm off to NT. I'm hoping WLVL-AM is on the air for my ride up there :-)

7:37 p.m. No WLVL for the ride, but it's still the second quarter so we'll be fine.

I walked into NT with the home team having a two-point lead, but while I was getting set up Darrik Bloomfield followed a three-pointer with a sweet putback of a teammate's airball -- Bloomfield caught it from under the basket and reverse layup-ed it all in midair -- to put NT up, 30-18 over Niagara Falls with 3:50 left in the second quarter.  

7:39 p.m. Falls gets a bunch back in a hurry and cut it to 30-24 with 2:44 left in the quarter.

7:45 p.m. At halftime, North Tonawanda leads Niagara Falls, 38-27.

NT coach Erik O'Bryan seems pretty loose -- he walks by me as I'm hunched over the laptop and I hear, "say hello to Prep Talk Nation." 

It was 16-16 after one quarter. Aaron Davis leads NT with 12 points while Bloomfield had all 10 of his in the second quarter. Davon Marshall leads Falls with 12.

The reports regarding Jordan Street are correct. He is ineligible and not listed in the scorebook for Falls.

7:58 p.m. An early timeout on a scramble on the floor -- NT leads, 37-29, with 6:33 left in the third. 

8:07 p.m. Falls calls a timeout with NT having taken a 46-35 lead with 2:14 left in the third.

UPDATE from Wilson: Host Lakemen lead Medina, 30-16, at halftime. 

8:13 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, North Tonawanda leads Niagara Falls, 46-35. 

UPDATE from Depew: Host Wildcats lead, 15-14, over Maryvale after one quarter. 

8:21 p.m. NT calls a timeout with 5:11 left and holding a 51-41 lead. Marshall has hit back-to-back threes for Falls. 

8:27 p.m. With 1:44 left in the game, NT calls a timeout with a 55-45 lead.

8:30 p.m. Two free throws by Maurice Respress and Falls calls a timeout with 1:21 left; NT leads, 55-47.

8:40 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: North Tonawanda 61, Niagara Falls 54.

North Tonawanda scorebookNiagara Falls scorebook North Tonawanda SWEEPS Niagara Falls. What a season.

The scorebooks from the game are to the right.

Who thought Niagara Falls was going to lose in the Niagara Frontier League this season? Who thought Niagara Falls was going to get swept this season? Wow. 

NT handled the Falls pressure early, then just beat the Wolverines the rest of the way. The Jacks were an extremely confident team, moving the ball well on offense, rebounding well and playing good defense. Falls was limited largely to outside shots, and they didn't have a good shooting night.

8:50 p.m. Finished with some interviews and some video stuff and we're going to try and make it to Depew for the end of what has been a close game (Maryvale led, 24-23, at halftime). 

9:36 p.m. Made it to Depew in time for interviews, but not in time to catch the game that ended with this FINAL SCORE: Maryvale 54, Depew 49. Maryvale clinches at least a tie for the ECIC III title.

Hey, we tried to get there in time, but when we arrived we were swimming upstream into the huge crowd leaving the gym. (Thanks much to Sean Bruso for texting me updates from Depew).

More details, video and scores to come so stay tuned.

10:10 p.m. Got some details sent in to the paper.

Here are a few notable finals that are in (we'll have the scoreboard up as soon as possible):

* Wilson takes control of the Niagara-Orleans race with a 52-34 victory over Medina;

* Grand Island makes some noise by thumping visiting Lockport, 79-67;

* Cleveland Hill with a very nice ECIC IV win, 53-45, at Alden -- where Lackawanna fell just last week;

* Bishop Timon-St. Jude wins at home over St. Francis, 58-54, bouncing back from Monday night's loss at Nichols;

* Some drama in ECIC I as Clarence handles visiting Frontier, 61-55, after the Falcons had wins over Jamestown and Orchard Park. Speaking of OP, they escape Lancaster with a 61-60 win.

11:12 p.m. Man, this video stuff is not easy. "Keith talking, take 47." ... "Cut!"

Among the later scores to come in came from one of the later starts -- St. Joe's wins at Maple Grove, 72-44. I'm not sure many expected that kind of margin no matter which team came away with a victory.

* * *

Our scoreboard is up.

Our roundup has been posted as well.

The debut of PrepTalkTV has been posted.

* * *

Of course, let us know which game you saw and what you think of this busy, news-making night in high school hoops.

---Keith McShea

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

More from coaches Kensy

Here's some extra info from today's story on the coaching Kensys: Mark at Maryvale and son Chris at Amherst.

The videos were shot during the teams' first meeting this year, which was the first coaching meeting between the two.

Check out how far Mark comes down the sideline here -- it's almost as if Chris senses his opponent and decides to give him some space.

Chris on dad:

Dad on Chris:

---Keith McShea

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

Which game should I go to?

When it comes to the biggest and possibly even best day of the boys basketball season, Tuesday just might be it.

There are 47 games on the schedule, which I believe is a season-high. And there are several big ones.

Which leads me to one question:

First of all, the Yale Cup games are eariler, so I should be able to catch at least part of one (maybe two if my pickup hoops game goes short and the first Yale Cup game goes long) before moving on to one of the above prime-time contests.

Grover Cleveland is at Burgard at 4:15 p.m. and East is at McKinley at 5:30. (Note: the Hutch-Tech vs. Middle College game has been moved to 5:30 p.m. today at Hutch-Tech.)

Among the games listed above, there are four major rematches from this year and an intriguing nonleague rematch from last year.

The biggest upset of the season, and one of the biggest of the decade (whether it is last decade or this one :-) ) was North Tonawanda's 64-62 overtime win at Niagara Falls, the first-ever Niagara Frontier League loss for the Wolverines. Falls' first-ever attempt to avenge an NFL loss gets started at 7 p.m.

St. Francis started making noise in the Monsignor Martin Association when it beat Bishop Timon-St. Jude at home, 56-54, on Jan. 20 to start a four-game win streak. The Tigers are coming off a top-notch victory at Canisius while Frannies has stumbled a bit with a loss at Nichols and a home loss to Canisius; tip-off in South Buffalo is 7:30 p.m.

The ECIC III battles between Maryvale and Depew have been outstanding for the last several years -- the Wildcats avenged their only loss of the season by winning at Amherst on Thursday. Back on Jan. 5, Depew won at Maryvale, 42-35. Tonight's battle is at 7:30.

The Niagara-Orleans League race likely rests on the 7 p.m. tipoff of Medina at Wilson. Medina won at home in the teams' first meeting, 62-53, on Jan. 15.

St. Joe's makes its first trip to Maple Grove for a 7:30 tip. Last year the Red Dragons lost at St. Joe's, 79-64. The Marauders are struggling while the Red Dragons and Chris Secky appear to be primed for that Class D playoff run that everyone has been talking about since last year. A very intriguing matchup here.

Other games on the fast-breaking Tuesday include Lockport at Grand Island in the NFL, Orchard Park at Lancaster in ECIC I, Cleveland Hill at Alden in ECIC IV and St. Mary's at Niagara Catholic in a Monsignor Martin small school battle. 

* * *

Part of me wanted to let the voters literally decide where I end up, but due to logistics and some Web work I'll be taking care of with reporter/videographer Lauren Mariacher (stay tuned), I can not completely put my traveling fate in your hands. Not that I don't trust Prep Talk Nation, of course. For instance, the trip to Maple Grove would be great, but the travel time involved would wipe out any possibility of seeing some games beforehand and would also throw a wrench into some significant postgame Web plans we have.

I'd have to say I'm leading to Falls at NT considering the historical impact of the teams' first meeting this year. I thought after NT's home loss to Lockport last week that perhaps the game had lost all of its luster, but then Falls struggled to beat Kenmore West so we're kind of back where we started -- trying to make sense out of the NFL.

But vote early and often (:-) ), and, of course, let me know why in the comments section below. I certainly am looking forward to seeing what the people's choice is.

---Keith McShea

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

Football's national signing day

Football's national signing day is here, and it's a pretty solid day for Western New York.

James Gaines of Canisius signed with Miami, David Fluellen of Lockport signed with Toledo and, as has been the case in recent years, several players signed with the University at Buffalo.

Jasen Carlson of Southwestern, Adam Redden of St. Francis and Andre Davis of Maryvale are headed to UB. The entire recruiting class for UB can be discussed at the Campus Watch blog. Delano Fabor of St. Francis, who was a high school senior last year, is on the list after enrolling at UB in January.

Also today, D.J. Nettles of Sweet Home signed with Rhode Island of Division I-AA (now the Football Championship Subdivision). Interesting note: the Rams open their season at UB on Thursday, Sept. 2.

---Keith McShea

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

Friday Night Live, hoops-style: Eight sites, seven games, videos, pictures, mascots and a father & son coaching battle

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.

I greeted the Grover mascot: "Waddup dog?" (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)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.

The overhead view of Canisius' new court from the balcony. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) 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.

 Maryvale coach Mark Kensy in a late timeout, in a blurry picture (sorry). (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)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.

Amherst coach Chris Kensy during the same late timeout (and a same blurry picture, sorry). (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)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.

* * *

Check out the night's scoreboard here.

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:

---Keith McShea

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

More sights and sounds from Cheektowaga boys soccer

Last week I headed out to do research on the fine boys soccer seasons going on in Cheektowaga -- both for Maryvale and the Warriors of "Central" (that's Cheektowaga Central to those who only visit the Galleria or the airport and aren't down with the lingo).

Maryvale is hoping to fill up the blank banner that hangs in the gym, so they keep a reminder of it in their locker room. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) Cheektowaga was undefeated -- up until Monday night, hours before my story had to be finalized for Tuesday's Scholastic Spotlight. Call it the Spotlight jinx -- I did a story on Iroquois golf being undefeated a few weeks ago, and the Chiefs lost on the Monday before the story came out.

It's always great to get out and see teams in their own environment. Even just a few moments spent with Cheektowaga before their game and watching them play the first half against Springville last Thursday gave me a good look at a team that has come a long way.

I saw their photo of their empty banner in the locker room and snapped a shot of it. Despite Cheektowaga's 3-1 loss to Maryvale Monday night, the Warriors can still wrap up the school's first soccer championship of any kind on Wednesday at home against winless Pioneer.

After seeing Cheektowaga take a 2-0 first-half lead in what would be a 3-1 win over Springville, I headed up Union Road to Maryvale, were I saw them finish off a 3-0 victory over Depew. Included was an extremely pretty goal which began with a one-touch from a midfielder to the left wing to Dan Fox, who one-touched it back across the middle, where Jared Starzynski one-touched it into the net. Great stuff.

Cheektowaga's first loss of the season didn't exactly mess up my story -- since it was a loss to Maryvale it actually worked right into the storyline of how both teams from the town are having great seasons.

Both programs' coaches -- Cheektowaga's Matt Haberl and Maryvale's Tom Staebell -- lauded the Cheektowaga Soccer Club for aiding in player development in the town. Check out the Cheektowaga Soccer Club site here.

Here are a couple of plays from Cheektowaga's game against Springville -- one goal (where the ball girl had her head in the game) and one save.

---Keith McShea

Who's going to win Class B football?

The Class B field is set, and there are favorites everywhere you turn -- Cheektowaga is tops in the polls, Depew is coming off a tremendous performance against No. 1 large school Lancaster, East Aurora might be the hottest team in the bracket, and Lackawanna is the defending champion.

As with all of our polls, we want to hear how and why you voted. Let us know in the comment space below.

Be sure to vote in all of the polls: Class AA, Class A, Class C and Class D.

---Keith McShea

WGR's full schedule of Friday night games

WGR's Web site states it will be broadcasting the following games on Friday nights:

Friday: East Aurora at Iroquois
Sept. 11: Williamsville North at North Tonawanda
Sept. 18: Depew at Maryvale
Sept. 25: Sweet Home at West Seneca East
Oct. 2: Orchard Park at Lancaster
Oct. 9: Iroquois at Williamsville South
Oct. 17 (Saturday): Kenmore East at Kenmore West

A quality lineup of games, and it's definitely cool to see high schools going primetime -- especially on a station where they high school sports talk has been quarantined to one hour on Saturday mornings for years.

Iroquois is a big winner with two games, but both are good matchups. The Monsignor Martin Association is a big loser with zero games, but it's somewhat understandable since there aren't any Friday nighters screaming for coverage. If GR is still doing games on Oct. 30, it might not be a bad, spread-the-wealth idea to go with the Monsignor Martin championship rematch of Canisius at St. Francis rather than a Section VI semifinal.

The list is a good mix of games, teams and areas, and it shouldn't be a surprise that the lineup consists of all Erie County teams other than just-across-the-bridge North Tonawanda. Randolph-Maple Grove is a great game for high school football fans, but GR wants to move the ratings needle, especially in a first-time venture like this.

---Keith McShea

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."

* * *

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 kmcshea@buffnews.com Thanks.

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

* * *

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

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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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