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Live from the Section VI boys lacrosse championships: CLARENCE STUNS OP, 7-5; N-W dethrones Hamburg in B in OT; Silver Creek wins C (with video)

Hello again from All High Stadium for another spectacularly sunny day for the Section VI lacrosse championships -- yesterday it was the girls, today it's the boys.

Today's tripleheader begins with an excellent Class C matchup between Amherst and Silver Creek at 3:30 p.m. (it's one I wrote about in Tuesday's Scholastic Spotlight). Then it is the Class A final between Orchard Park and Clarence at 5:30 and the Class B final has Niagara-Wheatfield takes on Hamburg in a scheduled 8 p.m. start.

The view from the press box at All High Stadium. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

Class C

3:54 p.m. First chance for an update after setting up here; Silver Creek has a 2-0 lead with 2:53 left in the first quarter. 

The first goal was by eighth-grader Sherman Williams, who came in from the right side to convert a pass by Frank Brown wth 6:16 left; Blake Curry then scored off a very nice cross-cage transition pass from Jon Jimerson with 4:08 left. 

4 p.m. At the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER, Silver Creek leads Amherst, 4-0.

Silver Creek added two more goals in the final three minutes as their famously high-powered offense is certainly doing its thing. Zach Williams converted a pass from Curry with 2:46 left; Silver Creek got a full-field breakaway on a play in which Amherst had a mixup as the official winded the clock -- and Curry went in alone and scored.

4:04 p.m. Silver Creek starts strong in the second quarter with a goal thanks to a fantastic effort by Zeddie Williams, who picked up a failed clear by Amherst, zig-zagged his way through at least three defenders before finding Frank Brown open on the left side of the cage for the goal 49 seconds into the quarter. 

Amherst responds less than a minute later with its first goal as Evan Theilman converted a back-of-the-cage pass by Clifton Jackson with 10:14 left in the second for a 5-1 Silver Creek lead. 

4:13 p.m. Silver Creek got one back quickly by Zed Williams just eight seconds later to make it 6-2, but Amherst came back with a two-goal surge to cut it to 6-4. Ed Doherty scored on an unassisted rush from behind the left side of the cage with 6:56 left, then 22 seconds later Jackson burst from the left side to the right and scored on about a 10-yard shot. 

4:20 p.m. Amherst came within one as Ted Tiftickjian converted in close off a pass by Doherty with 4:24 left in the second quarter, but then Silver Creek flashed more offensive prowess with two quick goals.

Zed Williams scored on a low-slung shot from the right side off a pass from Zach Williams with 3:48 left, then Zed followed with a outstanding play to set up a Brown goal. Right off a faceoff win by Zack Williams, Zed Williams ran the ball across the front of the goal about 15 yards out, and, as he appeared to head to pull the ball back out, he no-look, backhanded a pass to Brown at the left side of the cage for an 8-5 lead with 3:33 left .

4:22 p.m. Amherst gets an extra-man opportunity and cashes in immediately as Theilman scores from about 10 yards straight out after Jackson fed him the ball soon after the whistle restarted play. Silver Creek's lead is 8-6 with 2:12 left in the second.

4:26 p.m. We are at HALFTIME with Silver Creek leading Amherst, 10-7.

Fun finish to a fun quarter. Amherst cut the lead to one (8-7) less than a minute after its previous goal as Dane Bentley created a nice play by feeding Theilman, who was in motion from behind the left side of the cage and he scored with 1:13 left in the quarter. 

The Black Knights again flashed their offense thanks to more faceoff work by Zack Williams, who won two straight that led to a pair of goals. Just nine seconds after Amherst cut the lead to one, Zack Williams won the faceoff, sprinted out and found Frank Brown on the left for a 9-7 lead. Another faceoff win and another six seconds later (whoa), Zack Williams created a tic-tac-toe goal that was finished nicely by Sherman Williams for the 10-7 lead with :59 left in the half. 

4:41 p.m. Amherst with a great start to the third quarter with two goals to cut the Silver Creek lead to 10-9. Doherty scored on a rebound and Dane Bentley scored 1:27 later with 9:11 left in the third. 

4:48 p.m. Silver Creek takes a timeout with 5:07 left in the third; they have an 11-9 lead after a goal on a long, hard shot by Zeddie Williams with 6:02 left. 

4:49 p.m. Black Knights score quickly after the timeout as Zack Williams picks up a ground ball and fires a long pass to Jon Jimerson on the right doorstep for a 12-9 lead. 

4:54 p.m. Tough to keep track of all of this action :-) Amherst keeps staying close, Silver Creek keeps flashing the offense to stay ahead. The Black Knights' lead is 14-10 heading into the final minute of the third.

4:56 p.m. At the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, Silver Creek leads Amherst, 14-10.

5:04 p.m. Amherst calls a timeout with 8:00 left to go and the score still 14-10 in favor of Silver Creek.

5:11 p.m. Silver Creek doing a great job here in the fourth and now leads, 17-10. They've had a few more flashy goals, but they've also had some lenghty, smart possessions, and its defense has stepped up with some body checks, stick checks and freshman goalie Connor Graves just came up with a fine save.

Zeddie Williams went on a solo charge to the goal with 5:24 left, somehow scoring as he fell to the turf while being slashed. Frank Brown added his fifth goal with 3:56 left in transition off the Graves save, and Sherman Williams scored off a great long feed from Brown with 3:23 left for the seven-goal lead.

5:14 p.m. Silver Creek calls a timeout with 2:06 left and holding its 17-10 lead. 

5:20 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Silver Creek 17, Amherst 10. 

The Black Knights win their third straight Class C title.

Three-time Class C champion Silver Creek. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
The postgame show:

Class A

6:07 p.m. We have our first timeout in the A final, taken by Orchard Park. The game is scoreless with 5:57 left in the first quarter. Both teams have exchanged turnovers for the most part with no good chances of note.

6:17 p.m. At the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER, Orchard Park leads Clarence, 2-0. 

Orchard Park scored twice in a 2:17 span, both on unassisted goals. Tim Wagner went from left to right and scored on about a 10-yard shot with 5:48 left in the first; Austin Goltz followed with a charge from the right side and scored while spinning and falling to the turf while being fouled.

Clarence has had a few shots, all but one of them going wide of OP goalie Nick Owens.

6:23 p.m. OP calls a timeout following a failed clear with 9:46 left in the second quarter. Quakers lead, 3-0, after a nice play with Wagner up high and feeding forward to Goltz, who came in from the left side and scored on a high shot just under the crossbar.

6:33 p.m. Clarence calls a timeout with 4:12 left in the second quarter.

Clarence scored its first goal moments ago as Tom Zimmermann converted a pass from Charles Warkenthien with 7:30 left in the first quarter; OP leads, 3-1. 

6:38 p.m. OP goes ahead, 5-1, after two goals within a minute. Connor Hicks speeds to the cage and whips a shot that Clarence goalie Zach Johnson got a piece of but trickled in with 2:57 left; Goltz with another goal, his third, as he goes flying to the cage and scores with 2:03 to go in the second.

6:42 p.m. Moments after an incredible point blank save by OP's Nick Owens, Clarence gets one past him on an unsettled play as Dave DeCirce picked up a loose ball off a missed pass and fired it in -- and at a great time, with just 2.9 seconds left in the half. 

At HALFTIME, Orchard Park leads Clarence, 5-2.

7:02 p.m. Great start for the Red Devils, scoring twice in the first 3:35 of the third quarter to come within 5-4 and get its crowd fired up.

Warkenthien scored off a pass from Nick Gay just as an extra-man opportunity had come to an end with 9:24 left; a fast break with Alec Dietsch displaying some nice speed before finding DeCirce at the left side of the cage -- his up-and-down fake gave him a goal with 8:25 left in the third.

7:11 p.m. HELLO. We've got a tie game at 5-5 AT THE END OF THE THIRD QUARTER

As it did in the second quarter, another huge, late goal for Clarence as Cooper Wittig sprints from the left side and unleashes a long shot from about 12 yards out that skids low into the goal with 4.4 seconds left. 

Can't remember the last time I've covered a Class A final fourth quarter in which the score was tied to start. Might have to go back to an OP-Hamburg classic at UB Stadium in the early 2000s, which was when Hamburg was an A and which was won by OP in OT. Here we go. 

7:17 p.m. Here we go indeed. Clarence now LEADS, 7-5, with less than 10 minutes to go. 

Wittig scored as he streaked down the middle and scored off a pass by Gay with 10:47 left. After a Jack Lally faceoff win, Warkenthein came on a strong solo effort from behind the cage on the right side and whipped around and scored with 10:06 left. 

Reminder: OP has won 16 straight Section VI Class A titles.

7:23 p.m. Injury timeout with 6:07 left as OP's Trevor Vargo is down on the turf. Clarence leads, 7-5.

7:28 p.m. Orchard Park calls a timeout with the ball and 3:42 left with Clarence still leading, 7-5.

7:33 p.m. Clarence timeout with the ball and 1:31 left. They ran more than 30 seconds off before the timeout.

7:35 p.m. Another timeout by Clarence with 1:00 left after running some more clock off.

7:38 p.m. Another timeout with 19.6 seconds left. 

7:41 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE and it is a STUNNER: Clarence 7, Orchard Park 5. 

Sixteen-time defending champ OP goes down.

Class A champion Clarence. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

The postgame show:

Class B

8:36 p.m. Niagara-Wheatfield has an early, 3-2 lead on Hamburg with about three minutes left in the first quarter. 

The Clarence win over OP has created an extra story for me to write so the updates won't be as plentiful here for the B game. My apologies. I will update at least at the quarters.

8:40 p.m. At the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER, Niagara-Wheatfield leads Hamburg, 3-2.

9:04 p.m. Niagara-Wheatfield used a four-goal run to take an 8-3 lead before Hambug got one back with 4:19 left in the quarter. 

At HALFTIME, Niagara-Wheatfield leads Hamburg, 8-4.

9:57 p.m. Sorry for the delay. Exciting second half while I've been writing. Wheatfield leads, 9-8, with 1:11 left in the game. 

10:05 p.m. WOW. We're going to OVERTIME tied at 9-9. 

Wild finish with Hamburg tying the game with 32.9 seconds left in regulation as Pat Nowak scored off a pass from Max Maxwell. 

Hamburg had a chance to win the game in the final seconds, but after one shot was blocked at the defense, a shot by Maxwell with the clock winding down was stopped by N-W goalie Rob Eisenbart. Awesome save.  

Four minutes on the clock.

10:10 p.m. Niagara-Wheatfield WINS IN OVERTIME, 10-9, as Cory Becker picked up a loose ball at midfield, then sped to the cage and -- with Hamburg roving goalie Thomas Liponi retreating after the turnover -- scored to give Niagara-Wheatfield the win 48 seconds into overtime. Wow.

Here's video of the winning goal, and my apologies that it isn't clearer. I ran down into the stands to get a better angle (in front of that girder you see in other shots), but the game-ending play happened so fast -- it was too fast for me to adjust the focus to take the glare of the lights away. My bad (chest tap).

It's the first title for Niagara-Wheatfield since 1986. 

The Class B champion Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

The postgame show:

* * * 

10:59 p.m. Whoa. What a night. The B game going to OT was a tense thriller that we hadn't really seen here in two days of championships.

Sidenote: Clarence had a pretty good night, huh? Lacrosse team knocks off OP, baseball is champions for third straight year, softball team is back in the final. Throw in football and boys soccer titles (Mike Silverstein coaches both boys soccer and boys lax) and the Red Devils have had quite a year. 

I'll be getting additional info up here. 

The scoreboard page has statistics from all of the games here tonight as well as all of the other action on a busy, important day in high school sports. 

All three boys finals will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable SportsNet on Thursday.

---Keith McShea
(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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

Timon-OP lax showdown is ... only a scrimmage

I've been looking forward to Friday's boys lacrosse matchup between Orchard Park and Bishop Timon-St. Jude since before the spring season, and I know I'm not the only one.

Bad news just in from Timon coach Mike Burke: It's just a scrimmage.

Why? Timon scheduled too many games. The state limit for Catholic schools is 18 and the Tigers have already reached that total.

On the team's schedule as reported to laxpower.com, Timon is 16-3. Coach Mike Burke said that Timon's game with Kiski Prep (Pa.) was played as a scrimmage and will not count towards the team total. 

Burke said he was unaware of the limit until he was told by league chairman Tom Franz, who is the Nichols coach, following TImon's 11-9 home win over the Vikings Wednesday evening. Burke consulted with Timon administrators, including athletic director Jim Palano, and learned that the Timon-OP game would have to be a scrimmage.

"It's disappointing because this is a game that all of our kids look forward to, because Orchard Park is the top dog," said Burke. "I know that they're disappointed, too.

"We overlooked the rule regarding how many games you could have. We probably need to be more selective with who we play -- maybe we didn't need to play Aquinas [of Section V] twice. I talked to [OP] coach [Gene] Tundo. He sounded disappointed but he was as accomodating as he could be."

The teams will still play Friday evening, but with a running clock for 15-minute quarters and no official score kept on the field. 

"With the playoffs coming up, it's still good to get another quality opponent to prepare us, so something is better than nothing," Burke said. "We're going to be playing it as hard as possible, and I know they are too."

Timon has several games scheduled against private schools in Detroit this weekend; Burke said those will also be played as scrimmages and were always scheduled as such. Burke also said that in previous years, Timon's game against Ontario's Hill Academy was treated as a scrimmage. 

"We did a couple of things different and it really screwed it up," said Burke. "We just have to be more selective with who we play."

My take?

Coach Burke has played perhaps the most impressive nonleague schedules in Western New York over the last five or six years. I credit him for seeking out top competition that has included outstanding programs both from within New York and out of the state (and out of the country). His scheduling is one of the major reasons that Timon has become one of Western New York's elite program. 

But (and this is a big but) to schedule too many contests is a hugely critical error on behalf of Burke and the school. To have an outstanding game like Timon-OP wiped out because of too many games being played is inexcusable. It's a simple matter which could have been avoided. It's also something that almost never happens in other sports.

The bottom line is that arguably the best regular-season matchup between Western New York boys lacrosse teams has been lost for the players, programs, fans and yes, the media. A matchup like this attracts attention and deserves attention. It is one that would not have only benefitted the teams involved, but would have benefitted the sport in Western New York in general.

Instead, we won't be there. Because it's just a scrimmage.  

---Keith McShea
(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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

Silver Creek boys lax ends OP's 95-game WNY win streak

Silver Creek boys lacrosse recorded a massive win at Orchard Park this evening, beating the Quakers, 12-11, to end OP's Western New York win streak at 95 games.

I certainly thought the Black Knights would give OP a good run, but I didn't think the high-quality-but-low-quantity Class C champs (who I wrote about in Tuesday's Scholastic Spotlight) would be able to take down Class A's OP, which is renowned for overwhelming teams with its depth.

OP's having to go OT to win at Lancaster Thursday night was certainly an eyebrow-raiser, but I thought late-season games against Clarence or Bishop Timon-St. Jude would be the ones to end OP's run.

The scoreboard page has some stats and highlights -- here's an expanded version of the online recap and the story that will appear in Monday's paper:

* * * 

Silver Creek coach Bill Brennan told his team that if they pulled off a victory at Orchard Park on Saturday, they'd be a front-page story in The Buffalo News.

Guess where the Black Knights are going to be in Sunday's paper?

Silver Creek delivered a landmark win in Western New York high school sports by beating Orchard Park, 12-11, to end the Quakers' 95-game win streak against local competition.

The last time the dominant OP program lost to a Western New York team was on April 15, 2005, when it had a WNY winning streak of 129 games (lasting over 11 years) end with a 14-5 loss at Amherst.

"I told the boys, that if they won it was going to go on the front page," said Brennan. "[At the final whistle] the boys ran out on the field like we just won the championship. I didn't watch the clock late in the game, but it seemed like it was running forever. Give the boys the credit. They put in the hard work, and hard work pays off."

OP has won 19 of the last 20 Class A championships, including the last 16 in a row. Silver Creek has won the last two Class C titles. Silver Creek (7-0) took a 7-4 lead at halftime and was up, 10-8, after three quarters.

Senior Johnny Jimerson's highlight goal put the Black Knight's up, 12-10, with 5:12 minutes left. Jimerson dodged through the defense and, as he was falling to his knees, scored by shooting the ball through the OP goalie's legs.

"He scored as he was falling to the ground," said Brennan. "That was a huge goal."

After OP (9-3) scored to come within one, the Quakers were called for a 1-minute penalty with 2:06 left. Silver Creek possessed the ball, not only throughout the penalty but for the rest of the game. OP had its goalie out to challenge for possession, but "they just ran the ball and worked it around," said Brennan.

Silver Creek -- which won its 2009 C title without substituting for its 10 starters -- used just one substitution during the game, rotating different players in different positions throughout the field.

Jimerson had three goals. Sophomore Zeddie Williams also had three goals while brothers Zach Williams (a senior) had two and Sherman Williams (an eighth-grader) had two goals and two assists. Freshman goalie Connor Graves made 14 saves for Silver Creek, including a big one with about three minutes left.

Brennan cited Zach Williams and freshman Marvin Curry for winning the majority of the faceoffs.

"We've always got to credit Zach," Brennan said. "In field lacrosse if you control that ball, that's half the battle. Zach won a lot of faceoffs and our ninth-grader won three or four. Young guys like Marvin, Sherman and Connor, they played like seniors.

"And I always preach defense. Our defense is really picking up the system, playing unselfish help defense, basically jumping players. When attackmen are trying to dodge, our defensive guys are stepping up at the right time. Everyone on the team played well. It was a full team effort."

OP goalie Nick Owens had 17 saves, including, Brennan said, several big stops late in the contest.

"I want to [OP] coach Gene Tundo for the opportunity to come there and play such a great program," said Brennan. "I let the boys know, it's a nonleague game -- win or lose it doesn't help us in any standings or anything like that. But it gives us confidence when we go against teams in the playoffs and in the Far West Regionals -- if we get there."

* * * 

Definitely check out the story in Sunday's paper -- right on the front page of the sports section. 

* * * 

Sidenote/correction/my bad: I had the arithmetic wrong for OP's streak in my story on Tuesday, which was pointed out by JLG in Wednesday night's chat. Thanks to laxpower.com's excellent archive (here's 2005, with other seasons linked on the same page), I redid the numbers and got it right. My apologies.

---Keith McShea
(www.twitter.com/keithmcsheabn)

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

McKinley, OP win hoop openers at Pastor-Cooper (with video)

A tradition unlike any other continued tonight as I and plenty of other high school hoopheads checked out opening night of the week-long Pastor-Cooper Memorial Tournament at Daemen College.

I wasn't there for a quality start of the season for the St. Mary's girls team, which beat Williamsville North, 37-34.

Senior Sirreal Gamble models the new Grover fashion line just after pregame layups. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) I caught the last four minutes of McKinley beating the St. Mary's boys, 66-51. The Macks looked good as they finished off the Lancers, very active on defense and some nice fast-break finishes, including one by a high-rising Antonio Avery, a returning senior starter. It appeared that the Macks are back to their throw-a-lot-of-bodies-at-you, up-tempo attack as they had 12 people scoring. I saw some nice decisions down the stretch as well.

The final game had Grover Cleveland taking on Orchard Park, with many (including me) expecting the Presidents to win since it has some key returning players (very key in Chris Holland). However, OP played smart and Kyle Witkowski kept hitting three-pointers (five for all 15 of his points) in a 57-52 victory. 

First eyebrow-raiser was that Grover is now wearing uniforms to reflect the school's name change to  International Prep at Grover. As the picture shows, it's now I-Prep at Grover on the uniforms, and the colors are a deep navy blue and white. Throw in how former assistant Shawn Ryan has taken over for longtime head coach/sideline comedian Earl Shunk (who retired and is now coaching Tapestry Charter), and it really was like watching a new entity. 

Chris Holland was back, along with fellow seniors guard Kenny Pringle and big man Kadeem Hillman. Holland showed why he is a returning All-Western New Yorker with his usual well-rounded game that showed off scoring, rebounding (especially rebounding), passing and defense (steals and blocks). Junior Maurice Cheatom showed some great energy for the Presidents but overall the team could have used some more; could be the football season hangover as many players were on the Class C North champions' roster.

Grover did trim the lead to 49-48 with 4:37 left, but OP responded with an up-and-under move off a baseline drive by senior Zach Schenk (watch below) and a jumper by senior Ryan Lindquist. Schenk and junior Matt McCormick delivered some clutch two-for-two trips to the foul line in the final 1:30 to push a 53-51 lead to 57-51 with 43.7 seconds left.

Let's go to the iPhone video: 

Great starts for McKinley and OP, great to have hoop season back. I'll be at Friday's championship triple-header, which I will start looking forward to as soon as I get through a ton of work this week.

In related stories, my weekly chat will be Wednesday at 9 p.m., the All-Western New York football team will be published Saturday, the Connolly Cup will be awarded Saturday, the boys basketball preview will be published next Tuesday, and we are working on a new feature for our Web site that we're hoping will be really, really cool (and it will include a master season schedule). Stay tuned.

---Keith McShea

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

Prep Talk Live's Class AA replay: Clarence vs. Orchard Park

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

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.

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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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Live from the first day of football practice (with video)

Hello and Happy First Day of Football Season to you.

Today is the first day that football teams -- as well as many other fall sports -- can hit the practice field for the 2010-2011 school year.

It is always a big day in football as every program starts its official training after an offseason full of weight room visits, passing leagues and camps, but this season there is a little more buzz in the air due to the addition of Buffalo Public Schools to Section VI. That is a major part of the new year, with new teams and a new alignment for Section VI and a serious test for the city programs.

McKinley hits the field at All High Stadium. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) There's plenty of other things to watch this year: again, Western New York boasts four defending state champions. Canisius returns quarterback Travis Eman to its championship team, while rival St. Joe's has a new coach in Dennis Gilbert and a new QB in junior Chad Kelly, the nephew of the famed Buffalo Bills' Jim. Speaking of quarterbacks, Joe Licata is due to set more passing records for Williamsville South. And there will be plenty more to keep an eye on.

I've got plans to visit a few schools throughout the day. I'm going to start by heading south to Canisius' field in West Seneca and might check out St. Francis and Orchard Park as well. I'm scheduled for a midday stop at Sweet Home and have St. Joe's and Riverside on my target list as well. Should be a fun time. There was an overnight thunderstorm but its another great day in what has been a super summer for Western New York.

Before heading south I'm going to swing by All High Stadium behind Bennett High on Main Street to see if the Tigers -- or any other city school -- has hit the field. 

Stay tuned and feel free to file any first-day reports in the comments section below.

9:29 a.m. I pull into All High Stadium and there are some orange t-shirts and white t-shirts among a group working out on the turf. Looks like Bennett has started its season. Back with a report soon.

9:57 a.m. My first goof of the season -- as I got closer to the field, I realized the white helmets and black-and-orange uniforms where those of McKinley. As a group of 30 or 40 went through drills at three different stations, I spoke with defensive coordinator assistant head coach Kenny Boone, a Riverside grad who played at Buffalo State.

"We're very optimistic," said Boone. "In terms of being able to compete, we're at that level from an athletic perspective regarding our kids. But I think it will be a good opportunity for them to see other ball players. I think we'll fit in very well, very well. They're excited now. Guys are ready to go."

McKinley has the All High field from 8 to 11 a.m., so perhaps we'll stop by later to visit with another team. For now, time to head south.

11:28 a.m. We just visited Orchard Park, where the Quakers just finished their morning practice, which they spent mostly on offensive material.

After a huddle, some players spent the break eating their lunch tailgate-style in the parking lot. Coach Gene Tundo and assistant Bob Ferrentino went over some defensive drills that would be used in the afternoon session -- with Tundo running through imaginary drills himself. I think I saw him put a swim move on Ferrentino at one point. 

Here's coach Tundo on opening day (wouldn't be opening day without some opening day cliches :-) ):

We have to admit we probably should have to run a few laps for driving to Canisius' field at its Stransky Complex, where the JV was practicing. The varsity is at the school -- I'll take the blame on that one, although it gets a little confusing when you're trying to differentiate the Stransky Complex and Tripi Field and Koessler Field and where they play and where they practice and where they scrimmage. We're hoping to catch the Crusaders during their afternoon set.

  Next it's maybe St. Francis, maybe North Tonawanda, maybe both, before hitting Sweet Home.

1:19 p.m. Just arrived at Sweet Home after spending some time at North Tonawanda -- and no, not enough time to swing by St. Francis.

At NT, I was hoping to get a couple of words from coach Eric Jantzi, and I did. "Hi Keith." 

NT coach Eric Jantzi is right in the middle of an offensive line drill. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)Just having some fun with coach there. Jantzi was understandably busy running his practice, from the extensive warmup featuring walks like "Frankenstein" and "Spiderman" to the four-station, and then six-station setup. Jantzi coached the offensive lineman in a simple drill in which he went into serious detail about body position and leverage. 

The tone and the energy of the practice was something that you'd expect to see from a defending state champion.

2:30 p.m. Speaking of state champions, the practice at Sweet Home was very business-like as well. They had six and sometimes seven stations going, including two in which players caught not footballs but tennis balls in what appeared to be an agility/hand-eye coordination drill.

There were some cool sights and sounds, but you're going to have to wait for those. Sweet Home was the site of our first episode of PrepTalkTV for the 2010-11 season. I met videographer/reporter Lauren Mariacher at Sweet Home and you'll see the video up here later today.

I'm heading to Canisius next (they had an afternoon session starting at 2:30) with Riverside a definite stop -- they begin at 4 p.m. St. Joe's, Williamsville South and St. Francis are also possibilities.

3:25 p.m. If I played for Canisius, I'd be cut by now. After a quick pit stop home, I thought I'd hit Canisius before Riverside, but as I drove up I saw the last players leaving the field. They go again at 6 tonight, so I'll be back.

4:55 p.m. Had a good stop at Riverside, where coach Tony Truilizio gave a cafeteria full troops a rousing welcome and educated them on how big a season this is for all city football teams.

Here's a portion of what Trulizio told his team.

His take on getting started with the season.

6:15 p.m. Watched the end of the first practice for St. Joe's, then talked with first-year coach Dennis Gilbert and new junior quarterback Chad Kelly.

Here's coach Gilbert -- a 1984 St. Joe's grad who takes over for Bob O'Connor -- answering my question about if there was anything he did at the first practice to put any kind of personal stamp on the program or the new season.

You could definitely pick out Kelly at practice. He's won national NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competitions and the zing on his passes, whether they were deep balls, thrown with his feet quickly planted or thrown on the run. He certainly has commandeered the team already -- you could hear his calls at the line in drills a block or two away around Kenmore Ave.

We're catching up on some multimedia blogging material from our own home sweet home before heading to Williamsville South and finally Canisius.

7:02 p.m. Check that. We're running out of time so we'll hit Canisius on the way to One News Plaza -- we've still got a story to put together for Tuesday's paper. I'm bummed but there's no way I'd get down Main St. to Will South and back to Canisius before their practice ends at 7:45 p.m.

The good news is that video interviews are up from Riverside and St. Joe's. Gotta run.

8:20 p.m. Back in the office after a visit to Canisius, where there were so many wind sprints that I got tired just listening to all of the gasps for air. I have some more video interviews to post but I've got to get some stories for tomorrow's paper done first.

Here is the feedback from Canisius -- my apologies on the wind gusts that whipped up during coach Brandon Harris' talk.

The Canisius setup is unique to all of Western New York, I have to believe, in that the team is actually at a training camp at the Delaware Ave. school. Coach Harris has done that each of his previous three seasons here. The team stays and eats at the school, with three practices held during the day: morning, afternoon and evening.

Having the entire team together for a training camp has to have enormous benefits not only for attention to detail and a player's mindset, but also for team building and camaraderie. While other teams end practice and players go home, Canisius players literally are eating, drinking and sleeping football.

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As promised earlier, here's what we put together after our visit to Sweet Home's opening practice: the season debut of PrepTalkTV.

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Stay tuned throughout the preseason for more updates. We'll be making the rounds on Scrimmage Saturday (Aug. 28) with another blog and video and we'll have our annual season preview -- including video and Web features in addition to our comprehensive special section -- in the week leading up to Week One (Sept. 3-4).

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For the lowdown on the new and evolving commenting format, check the link at the right, read the previous post, or just click here.

---Keith McShea

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National football poll says Sweet Home is No. 1 in New York

What's the best football team in New York State?

The preseason edition of PrepNation.com's National Prep Football Poll says it's Sweet Home.

I'd have to agree. After Sweet Home won its second straight state title, I've said that they need to be mentioned as one of the very best programs in the state.

They are too talented, too multi-dimensional, too well-coached, they have succeeded with very different teams the last two years and return enough key players (Mikal Coleman, Ralph Neasman, Jordan Johnson) to be seriously scary to its competition in Western New York (and the rest of the state).

The state sportswriters polls organize the best in the state by classification (AA through D), but there is no overall poll (Sweet Home is a Class A school).

John Faller and Sweet Home have taken home state championship plaques from Syracuse the last two seasons. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News) The only gauge available for judging the best team in the state has been national polls. In recent years the top teams from New York have included Aquinas of Rochester (which Sweet Home has beaten in the Far West Regionals the last two years), St. Anthony's of Long Island, Iona Prep of New Rochelle as well as  Orchard Park (which earned a spot in USA Today's East Region top 10 following its 2008 state title).

While no New York school is in the national top 100, Sweet Home is the top New York school mentioned in its Northeast Region poll 25 -- the Panthers are 11th. Sweet Home isn't too far outside the national top 100, one would think, as New Jersey power Bergen Catholic is 97th nationally and ninth in the Northeast. Other New York schools in the Northeast poll are: 17. North Tonawanda; 23. St. Anthony's; 24. Aquinas.

The NT placement is deserved as well. We voted Sweet Home ahead of NT in last year's final poll, but not by much, and as the AA defending champion the Lumberjacks certainly should be part of the best-in-NY discussion.

Any national poll is super-tough to figure, but I consider the National Prep Poll the best. Just look at how exhaustive the polls are (top 100 as well as seven regional top 25s), and it is all combined with a great perspective. It has done the same with basketball and they've been doing it for a while (since the 1987-88 season). The National Prep Poll had Niagara Falls No. 1 in the basketball rankings for 2005 after the Wolverines won the state Federation title.

New York really doesn't deserve a football team higher than where Sweet Home is slotted for a number of factors, including New York's fractured alignment. There have been several seasons in which many teams end up undefeated due to separate titles and no crossover between NYS Public High School championships, Long Island championships, New York City's Public Schools Athletic League plus Catholic schools throughout the state who don't match up either (from WNY, LI and NYC).

Even if there was a consensus pick as the top team in the state, then you're talking about matching a team like Sweet Home against the best from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, California and Florida, never mind the rest of the country. A New York team really needs to make a statement to earn national attention -- like when St. Francis won at Cleveland-area power St. Ignatius in 2004 to vault itself into the USA Today Super 25 (albeit for only a week).

Sweet Home is also tops in the state according to the computer behind the Massey Ratings used at highschoolsports.net. 

The ESPN Rise Fab 50 poll is out and, not surprisingly, does not include a New York team. Same for the Yahoo's RivalsHigh 100, which makes it 0 for 113 for NY as it doesn't include an Empire State squad among it's "others receiving consideration." USA Today's Super 25 is not out yet. 

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For the lowdown on the new and evolving commenting format, check the link at the right, read the previous post, or just click here.

---Keith McShea

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Friday Afternoon Live from Section VI boys lacrosse (with updates from other finals ... and video)

I'll be live at the Section VI boys lacrosse championships this afternoon and evening at Orchard Park. I'll be getting updates from the baseball and softball action as well. 

The Class A game starts the tripleheader at 3:30 p.m. as defending champion Orchard Park meets Clarence. Up in Niagara Falls, Clarence is also in action in the highly anticipated AA softball final against Williamsville North.

The scene at OP. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) The rest of the boys lax action includes defending champion Hamburg meeting Amherst at 5:30 in the B final and top-seeded Eden facing defending champion Silver Creek in Class C at 8.

The Class A softball final has Williamsville South playing Amherst at 6 p.m. at Niagara Falls while the Class D baseball final at Jamestown has Pine Valley meeting North Collins at 4:30 p.m. The Georgetown Cup championship series will be set today when St. Francis faces St. Mary's in a game at St. Joe's that was postponed from Thursday.

We'll update as soon as it is possible -- just hit refresh once every couple of minutes.

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3:52 p.m. After the FIRST QUARTER of the AA game, Orchard Park has a 4-1 lead. A few technical difficulties at the start here; my apologies. The OP field is new, but not the press box, but we have a seat and somewhere to type, and I can see all the action -- if I move my head back and forth around the .

A report from correspondent Nate Beutel at softball in Niagara Falls - Clarence took a 2-0 lead over Will North after two innings.

4:06 p.m. OP is having a nice run to take a 7-1 lead with 4:14 left in the second quarter, prompting a timeout by Clarence. 

A good timeout after a very pretty goal by OP, which came just 13 seconds after senior Kevin Kelly scored off an assist by senior Sean Purtill. On the ensuing faceoff, junior Trevor Vargo won it, fed sophomore longstick middie Kole Robinson, who handed ahead to Purtill, who fed Vargo in front of the cage for the goal with 4:14 left.

4:09 p.m. OP now up, 8-1, after a great solo underhanded effort by Matt Wilson -- his third of the game -- after he charged from behind the cage.

4:13 p.m. We are at HALFTIME of the Class A game and OP leads Clarence, 8-1.

4:17 p.m. Update from Niagara Falls: CLARENCE BEATS WILL NORTH IN THE CLASS A SOFTBALL FINAL, 2-0, on a one-hitter by senior standout pitcher Jen Sansano. I set up a separate post for the game for comments.

4:29 p.m. OP's lead is now 9-1 after another pretty passing play that started with a ground ball by junior defenseman Cullen Mangino -- who scooped it up and cleared it across midfield himself. He moved deep into the offensive end and then started a tic-tac-toe play with a pass to the right side of the cage to Purtill, who fed cross-cage to wide-open sophomore Ben Johnson for an easy score with 8:54 left in the third quarter. 

4:35 p.m. OP now up, 10-2, answering a Clarence goal by junior David DeCirce with yet another pretty passing play in transition. A great stick-check by Mangino on the defensive end became a clear that went from Mangino to Gary Davies to senior middie Dan Nesci, who fed Purtill on the right side, who fed back into the high slot (hockey term) to Sean Rimmer for a liner he put past Clarence junior goalie Zach Johnson.

4:40 p.m. Timeout with 2:06 left and OP owning its 10-2 lead.

5:01 p.m. After some frustrating browser/connection problems, we're back. Our apologies. OP's lead is 14-4 after a goal by junior middie Peter Biondi with 3:01 left in the game.

5:05 p.m. OP now up 15-4 with 2:03 left after a goal by junior Brian Kaspzyk.

5:09 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE and we have a CLASS A CHAMPION. Orchard Park beats Clarence, 15-5, for its 16th straight sectional title and 19th in the last 20 years.

Orchard Park wins the A championship. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
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5:46 p.m. We're about to start the Class B game. At the start of warmups, while I was doing interviews at the sideline, the Hamburg and Amherst teams did some serious woofing across the midfield line -- very reminiscient of college football pregame woof-fests. Everyone stayed on their side of the line, so just some good, clean (loud) fun. 

5:48 p.m. First possession for Hamburg but two shots go wide and Amherst hears the ball back on the backup.

5:52 p.m. Adam Dings makes it a 1-0 Hamburg lead on a nice leaping bounce shot with 6:48 left in the first quarter.

5:55 p.m. Hamburg goes up, 2-0, on a similar move as Andy Velazquez comes from the right side across the middle and fights off a defender as he gets his scoring shot off. 

6:01 p.m. Timeout Hamburg with the ball with 19 seconds left in the first quarter.

6:03 p.m. We are at the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER and Hamburg leads Amherst, 2-0.

6:21 p.m. We're still at 2-0 Hamburg; the teams have exchanged extra-man opportunities, turnovers and hits but no goals.

6:22 p.m. As soon as I type that, Hamburg's Josh Kerr scores off a feed from Ryan Feuerstein -- which came off what the press box says was the 13th turnover by Amherst. The goal was at 4:14 left in the quarter.

6:23 p.m. Thirty seconds later, at 3:47, Max Maxwell comes from behind the goal, beats a defender and scores on a low shot for a 4-0 Hamburg lead and prompts a timeout by Amherst coach Stefan Henn.

6:26 p.m. Timeout Hamburg with 2:37 left in the second quarter.

6:29 p.m. Hamburg adds another. After a save by Amherst goalie Scott Theilman, Josh Kerr picks up a ground ball on the left side and fires it in the top right corner for a 5-0 lead with 1:48 left in the second.

6:32 p.m. Hamburg's late surge in the second was pretty good, but Ryan Feuerstein made it outstanding. With the clock ticking down, he came from behind the right side of the goal and whipped around a shot that went in the goal with just one second left in the half. Hamburg leads, 6-0, with :01 left, which means ...

We are at HALFTIME and Hamburg leads Amherst, 6-0.

6:37 p.m. Update from Niagara Falls in SOFTBALL: Amherst leads Williamsville South, 2-0, after three innings of the Class A final. 

6:44 p.m. We have an update from BASEBALL: Pine Valley beats North Collins, 6-0, to win the SECTION VI CLASS D CHAMPIONSHIP.

6:46 p.m. We have started the third quarter. Hamburg senior goalie James Maxwell just made a nice one-on-one stop at the left doorstep on Amherst senior Bryan Lawson.

6:53 p.m. Hamburg scores on a pretty goal by Josh Kerry from Ryan Feuerstein with six minutes left; Amherst scores on its next possession thanks to senior Jack Huck; Hamburg, 7-1, with 5:35 left in the third. 

6:55 p.m. Hamburg goes up, 8-1, with four minutes left on a nice rush from behind the right side of the goal by freshman Max Maxwell.

7:01 p.m. At the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, Hamburg leads Amherst, 8-1.

7:08 p.m. Hamburg goes up, 9-1, with 7:00 left on a goal by Chris Feuerstein, who dodged past a double-team and scored from the right side.

The Hamburg fans were cheering on their defense, which has been outstanding all game. Amherst has had long possessions, but excellent checks have limited the Tigers to a few fairly easy shots saved by James Maxwell.

7:14 p.m. Timeout with 4:50 left and Hamburg up, 9-1. 

7:20 p.m. Timeout Hamburg with 1:13 left; still a 9-1 game.

7:23 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE and we have a CLASS B CHAMPION. Hamburg beats Amherst, 9-1, for its fourth straight sectional title. 

Hamburg wins the B title. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
* * *

7:54 p.m. We have a SOFTBALL update. AMHERST WINS THE CLASS A CHAMPIONSHIP. Tigers beat Will South, 3-1.

7:55 p.m. A couple minutes away from the start of the C game between defending champion Silver Creek and top-seeded Eden. Skies are greying but hopefully we don't get in any rain trouble.

8:07 p.m. Silver Creek takes a 2-1 lead on a Levi Jones goal off a nice John Jimerson pass with 8:59 left in the second quarter -- the Black Knights also scored on the opening faceoff as Zack Williams won it and charged right in for the goal. 

The teams split their two meetings this season, with Eden winning on the road,16-12, on April 7 and the Black Knights winning in Eden, 20-9, on May 3.

8:15 p.m. Some big-time back-and-forth going on. Silver Creek is up, 4-3, with 4:21 left on a sweet, low swooping shot by Zed Williams.

8:17 p.m. Like I said, back and forth. Derek Wilder scores off a nice through-the-defense pass by Mike Janker and we're tied at 4-4 with 2:39 left in the first. Looks like we have our best game of the day.

8:23 p.m. At the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER, Eden has a 6-5 lead over Silver Creek. Neither team has had more than a one-goal lead.

8:30 p.m. The wild back-and-forth swings continue with a Silver Creek spurt -- it leads 7-6 with 10:15 left in the second after a hard shot by Ryan Mitchell.

8:33 p.m. Timeout Eden after Zack Williams sheds two shoves in the defensive end, clears it himself and goes in alone to score on a low overhand shot for an 8-6 Silver Creek lead with 8:37 left in the second.

8:35 p.m. The highlight show continues in a major way. Sophmore John Jimerson took a pass on his own side of midfield, sped towards the Eden goal, and as one defender chased him and anothe rdefender approached, he put on the brakes and did a super spin-o-rama move before charging in a few steps and burying a shot in the top left corner. Awesome. Check it out on Time Warner Cable SportsNet this week. SC leads, 9-6, with 8:09 left in the second.

8:50 p.m. We are at HALFTIME and Silver Creek has an 11-7 lead over Eden. What a fun half -- crazy scoring.

Time for me to get some writing done for Saturday's paper.

9:10 p.m. We're back to action, and the teams have kept up their pace with four goals in the opening five minutes. Silver Creek leads, 13-8, with 7:03 left in the third.

9:16 p.m. A slight drizzle started a few minutes ago, and then the officials called for the game to be suspended because lightning was seen in the distance. That's an automatic 30-minute delay. Ordinarily, I'd be a furious reporter right now, but the delay gives me a chance to write my story. I'll let you know of any more details, but we'll be back at 9:46 p.m. at the latest.

It's 13-9 Silver Creek with 3:40 left in the third quarter.

9:44 p.m. A steady downpour has subsided but apparently there has been more lightning during the delay, which has extended the delay. I'm typing a press box atop an empty bleacher.

10:05 p.m. Story is done for the paper and we just saw lightning again -- we've got to be looking at a suspended game that gets finished tomorrow.

10:19 p.m. A blast of thunder and another flash of lightning and ...

Section VI chairman John Faller has notified us that the game will be picked up Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. here at Orchard Park. That's Silver Creek leading, 13-9, with 3:40 left in the third quarter.

10:48 p.m. We've updated our story for tomorrow's paper and we're outta here. After the game was called, there was some serious lightning and thunder accompanied by a serious downpour. All is much calmer now. 

Next lacrosse stop is Tuesday night at the regionals.

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Some postgame interview videos:

If you were at any of the games, let us know how it went and what you thought of the action.

---Keith McShea

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

Live from the Class AA baseball final: Clarence beats OP, 7-3 (with video)

Sign and the flag make for a nice photo, even on an iPhone. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

We're live at Niagara Falls' Hyde Park, home of Sal Maglie Stadium, site of three Section VI baseball championship games this week.

Today it is a great matchup between top-seeded Clarence and No. 2 seed and ECIC I rival Orchard Park in the Class AA final at 4:30 p.m. We'll keep track of the action, inning-by-inning.

4:46 p.m. Clarence standout junior pitcher Zach Lauricella pitched a perfect top of the first, striking out two with a weak fly to left sandwiched between them.

4:54 p.m. Clarence threatened in the bottom of the first as it had first and second with one out, but did not score. Leadoff batter Adam Urschel hit a line drive off of the OP pitcher; the third basemen picked the ball up and threw him out on a nice play although it appeared that Urschel beat the throw.

5:03 p.m. This time OP gets on, but we're still scoreless after the top of the second. Paul Leavell and Jimmy Fitzgerald had back-to-back singles after one was out, but Lauricella got a foul pop up by Bryan Lang and struck out Scott Tatay looking for the third out.

5:35 p.m. My apologies for some technical difficulties.

Clarence has a 4-0 lead after three innings thanks to a four-run second. Ben Smith drew a bases-loaded walk, Urschel followed with a sharp two-run single up the middle and, after a strikeout and an intentional walk to Lauricella, Andrew Lawrence dinked into an RBI single into left field.

OP got a single from Dave Crowley in the top of the third but nothing else. Clarence got a leadoff single from Mark Armstrong in the bottom of the inning but nothing else.

5:43 p.m. OP gets on the board and Clarence leads, 4-1, in the middle of the fourth. Max Korzaniewski lined a single to left field to bring in A.J. Witkowski from third. Witkowski had led off with a walk, moved to second on a walk to Leavell and to third on a double play. 

5:52 p.m. Clarence picks up another run to take a 5-1 lead after four. Matthew Grazen led off with a walk, moved to second on a single up the middle by Lauricella, then scored from second when the OP second basemen couldn't keep a tough ball in the infield off the bat of Lawrence.

6:03 p.m. Clarence kept its 5-1 lead after the top of the fifth thanks to a fantastic inning-ending double play. With the bases loaded, second basemen Mike Elwood handled a tough, hard hop just to the right of the bag and flipped to Urschel, who fired it on to first to a roar from the hundred or so on hand from Clarence.

6:12 p.m. Mark Armstrong led off the bottom of the fifth with a single for Clarence, but that was all and the Red Devils' lead remains 5-1.

6:19 p.m. Another inning-ending double play for Clarence to end a threat. Wow. With runners at the corners, Lauricella handled a comebacker by Scott Tatay and fired to shortstop Urschel at second, who went on to first.

That play was preceded by a fabulous defensive play by Ellwood, who came in on a slow roller and used just his glove to field and then flip to Urschel for a force play at second. Great play. Clarence still leads, 5-1.

6:29 p.m. Clarence added another two runs for a 7-1 lead after six. Grazen led off with a walk and scored on a triple by Lauricella, who bombed the ball over the right fielder's head to one-hop the wall. Lauricella later scored on a sacrifice fly to centerfield by Matt Creenan.

6:39 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Clarence 7, Orchard Park 3.

OP's Dylan Baun had a two-run blast of a home run over the left field fence in the top of the seventh. Off to do interviews; we'll have more here later.

* * *

Celebration time for Clarence as coach Dave Smith gets dunked after some nice Red Devils teamwork kept him distracted.

* * *

Postgame reaction from Clarence:

Elwood was one of the most important players in the game -- even though he was the player who was replaced in the lineup for a designated hitter.

"It just gives me a better chance to focus on my defense," he said. "It feels great [to contribute]. We won the championship and that's all that counts."

* * *

Orchard Park coach Jim Gibson:

"We had our opportunities -- we actually outhit them [9 to 8], but we didn't do it with men on base. We hit into three double plays, all with chances to score runs. I thought we shot ourselves in the foot and I thought there were a few questionable calls that hurt us. Clarence is a good team -- they take advantage of your mistakes."

* * *

Here's my story.

---Keith McShea

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

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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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