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News team gets its Macker on

The Buffalo News is a proud sponsor of the Gus Macker and a proud 1-7 in the last four years of Corporate Challenge competition. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

This vacationing reporter wanted to post a short blog with some recent goings-on.

In about an hour -- at 6 p.m. tonight -- The News team will be going at it in the Gus Macker Corporate Challenge.

The real Macker is Saturday and Sunday, but on Friday local companies hoop it up. We are scheduled to take on Cricket Wireless at 6 on the main courts at the New Era Cap Co. headquarters on Delaware Ave. High school sports partner Mary Jo Monnin and I will be joined by reporter Jay Skurski and contributor Nate Beutel.

Let's just say The News doesn't have a great track record in the event -- although I'm sure I will talk about last year's historic victory over WKBW Ch. 7 until the day I die. I'll update the blog with the perhaps-gory details later.

* * * 

In other news, Thursday night I was a guest on Officially Yours on WECK (1230 AM) and we talked about the Tom Borrelli Memorial Award (and upcoming golf tournament on July 27), the 2011-12 high school sports year in review and what's in store for football this fall. Listen to the show here.

* * * 

Macker update: As always, the Macker is a blast just to get on the court and see lots of familiiar faces -- from players to ex-players to officials, coaches and administrators. And yes, it's still a blast after we go 0-2.

The four horsemen: Skurski, Beutel, McShea and Monnin. (Photo credit: Mayor Byron Brown with MJ's camera!) We have a lot of experience at that (three times in the last four years, with last year's tremendous victory over WKBW Ch. 7 growing more legendary by the sentence.

We hung in there against Cricket, starting strong but falling in a respectable, 9-6 loss in which some tall, long, skilled dude posterized us with a driving dunk down the lane. Nice. I tried to stay out of the poster but I don't think it worked. Thankfully we did not assign a News photographer for today's events. 

Speaking of taking pictures, Mary Jo Monnin asked a bystander to take a team picture of us after the game. The bystander? Mayor Byron Brown. No kidding. He was a good sport and all four of us are in frame. Mark that down on the Brown administration's accomplishment list (just having a little fun, Mr. Mayor). 

Our loser's bracket game was against one of the three teams representing title sponsor Toyota. It started great for the News as Skurski delivered a sweet pass to me across the middle for a driving layup. Pretty.

Things definitely were not so pretty from then on in what would be an 8-3 loss. It was a foul-filled affair thanks in large part to two guys who were living, breathing, hacking, yapping reasons never to buy a Toyota. I proudly earned a double foul against one of them, who from his whining apparently didn't like getting cleanly boxed out. I also non-proudly contributed at least two turnovers and a travel. 

At one point, in between their whining at the volunteer refs, one of the yappers offered a prepubescent, "don't be mad you're losing." This, from a squad that had their female player play the first three minutes (Macker corporate challenge rules require teams to play their female a minimum of three minutes) of the game then left her on the bench the rest of the way. She could play, too. She had a rebound and a putback. I hope Toyota treats its female employees better back at the workplace! Baddump-bump. 

In contrast, we had our three-guys-and-a-female rotation going throughout the game. Against Cricket, we subbed our female when they subbed theirs, and vice versa in what was a hard-fought but clean Macker game. At this point I'd rather buy a car from Cricket. :-)

But again, it was definitely fun. Mary Jo had some nice steals, Beutel grabbed rebounds and set textbook screens he'll be showing his Grand Island troops in practice next season (he's their boys hoops coach), and Skurski provided some great (and much-needed) offense.

The rain held off and hopefully will stay away this weekend for what is a great festival of hoops -- Buffalo's Macker is the largest in the nation. I'm hoping to catch some of the action Saturday and Sunday.

And we'll definitely be back. There's always next year.  

---Keith McShea
(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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

Listen to the Harvard Cup game

Today's 106th Harvard Cup championship between Burgard vs. Riverside at All High Stadium.(11 a.m.) will be broadcast on WJJL (1440 AM) as well as at wjjl.com and nhsbn.com. Pregame coverage begins at 10:40 a.m.

---Keith McShea

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

Saturday Afternoon Live: Week Eight

It won't be until East Aurora's 7 p.m. home game with Maryvale is complete, but at that point Section VI football will be down to its final four times five. There will be a total of 20 teams left competing in next week's semifinals. 

Be sure to review what went down Friday night -- including video of the game-winning field goal and other late drama in Grand Island's win at Will South -- before you check out the games today (here's the full schedule).

Jamestown's trip to Lockport in Class AA is one of the most-anticipated games of the day and is expected to be heard on WLVL (1340 AM) out of Lockport and WWSE (93.3 FM) out of Jamestown.

Two intriguing North-South battles in Class C have Cleveland Hill taking on Fredonia at Depew at 2 p.m. while Cassadaga Valley welcomes Wilson at 1:30.

One of the best games of the day is a nonleague matchup between the top small school and one of the top large schools of the Monsignor Martin Association as Cardinal O'Hara plays at St. Joe's at 2 p.m. The St. Joe's broadcast, as it is every week, can be heard online.

This week's Intense Milk Harvard Cup Game of the Week is the 94th meeting of South Park and Lafayette. The 12:30 kickoff at All High Stadium can be heard on WJJL (1440 AM) or via www.nhsbn.com or www.wjjl.com. Another nice Harvard Cup clash is the 3 p.m. game of Grover Cleveland against undefeated Burgard.

Check back here for updates throughout the late afternoon into the evening.

* * *

Also, tune your twitter to "bufnewspreptalk" to get instant updates of the scores as soon as they are reported to us. We also have a fan page at Facebook -- just search "The Buffalo News' Prep Talk blog" -- and you'll get updates with links to our high school sports stories.

* * *

4:55 p.m. Quality job by all with the updates.

Here's what we have officially in the office: Eden 21, Allegany-Limestone 0; Sweet Home 48, Amherst 14; St. Joe's 20, Cardinal O'Hara 0; St. Mary's 14, Timon-St. Jude 0; Walsh Jesuit (Ohio) 58, Canisius 0; consolation games -- Starpoint 15, Kenmore East 8; Clarence 28, Niagara-Wheatfield 6; Williamsville East 43, Newfane 0.

East's consolation bowl win gives Joe Schifflet his 200th career coaching victory.

5:40 p.m. Cleveland Hill beats Fredonia, 44-0 to earn a trip to Southwestern next week; Silver Creek 42, Panama 6; Mary Jo Monnin is back from Lockport, where the Lions beat Jamestown, 26-14.

6:13 p.m. Kenmore West 46, West Seneca West 14.

6:15 p.m. We have a Saturday football story posted -- it has details from the Lockport game now and will be updated throughout the day and night.

6:23 p.m. The story above now has info from St. Joe's victory over O'Hara.

6:47 p.m. The Section VI soccer seedings and schedules for both boys and girls are in the office and will be online as soon as we can type them in.

6:54 p.m. Our first non-football call of the day is Hamburg prevailing over Canisius in a three-game final of the Hamburg boys volleyball tournament. Quite a showdown.

7 p.m. The scoreboard is up and will also be updated.

7:39 p.m. Just talked to Section VI chairman Chuck Funke and have the semifinal pairings with the exception of the Class B pairing dependent on tonight's game at East Aurora. Those will be up soon. He also had a 40-0 win for Cassadaga Valley, which we haven't heard from unfortunately.

8:22 p.m. Speak of the devil (or Cougar). Cassadaga Valley's 40-0 win was just called in and I had a pleasant talk with coach Mark Petersen, who summed up next week's showdown with Eden quite nicely: "They're a lot like us -- they like to line up and play smashmouth football. ... It should be a great game -- that's why players play and why we coach." 

8:31 p.m. The Section VI boys soccer schedule and seedings are up, girls are being put together now.

8:39 p.m. A separate post is up with the football semifinal schedule

10:48 p.m. A bunch of updates after a harrowing deadline -- East Aurora beats Maryvale, 42-6, details of which are at our main story on the home page and sports page

There's a short soccer post up that has links to the boys and girls tournaments. 

* * *

Our end-of-day report (reminder that the scoreboard and playoff schedule links are above): 

* Here's the roundup, which, as it has during the season, includes bonus information to that which you will find in your fun-filled, coupon-filled Sunday paper.  

* Here's Mary Jo Monnin's story on Lockport's win over Jamestown.

* Here's Miguel Rodriguez's story on St. Joe's beating Cardinal O'Hara.

Next week, 10 teams take aim at The Ralph while St. Francis hosts Canisius.

---Keith McShea

Friday Night Live: Week Two

The education of the Western New York high school football fan continues tonight.

Will Orchard Park have another close one? Can Cardinal O'Hara head to the Southtowns and knock off St. Francis?

Will Frontier, North Tonawanda, Iroquois and Hamburg continue their winning ways among large schools?

Who will get the first win in the Harvard Cup?

The kickoff of the Buffalo Public Schools' Harvard Cup, which has Hutch-Tech taking on Grover Cleveland at All High Stadium, is the first of 25 games that will be kicked off tonight as Week Two gets started. You can listen to the first Intense Milk Harvard Cup Game of the Week at 5 p.m. at WJJL (1440 AM), WJJL.com or via the National High School Broadcast Network

The Williamsville North at North Tonawanda game is on WGR (550 AM).

Here's what you think the best game of the weekend is.

Stay here through the night as we'll have updates as soon as we get them.

Also, tune your twitter to "bufnewspreptalk" to get instant updates of the scores as soon as they are reported to us. We also have a fan page at Facebook -- just search "The Buffalo News' Prep Talk blog" -- and you'll get updates with links to our high school sports stories.

* * *

6:04 p.m. It's the start of our football night, but we've already been way up to Middleport for research on a girls volleyball story which features Roy-Hart (and there were tons of purple-football-jersey-wearing Ram fans walking around. I was also over at Canisius High to check out a few plays from their boys volleyball match that officially opened the school's new field house.

We watched some late second-quarter action of Hutch-Tech against Grover Cleveland in the Harvard Cup opener, including a touchdown and two-point conversion that gave the Engineers a 14-8 lead over Grover at halftime.

The scoring drive began with an interception by Tech (above), which then drove down the field and got a 7-yard TD run (below) by senior Antae Miller, who stretched out the ball ahead of him and jusssst broke the plane for the score.

Tech added a two-point conversion on a pass. I've got video of those plays and will get them up soon.

Tech scored first on a rushing touchdown by senior quarterback Mark Horne. Grover scored on a wild play in which senior tight end Dontay Byrd caught a pass that was deflected and then ran 64 yards for the touchdown.

We're writing this from the new press box at All High Stadium -- that's right, the new press box. It has been built behind the stands. The old one is still on the stadium roof, and the stairway leading to it remains boarded off and guarded full-time. I just shake my head when I think about that stairway. 

The new press box is a good one, a decent space with a tables and electrical hookups, with a good view of the action despite some pillars in front of us.

With a bunch of games starting at 7 and 7:30 p.m. in the Southtowns, I'm going to get my fill down there -- I think I'll start at St. Francis, but there are games at Frontier, Hamburg, Lackawanna and Orchard Park as well. We'll see. 

I'm heading to the parking lot and turning on the radio broadcast of this game.

* * *

7:01 p.m. We're in the St. Francis parking lot and just posted some video highlights from the Harvard Cup game. Hutch-Tech still leads and the awesome Harvard Cup radio crew is letting an official have it for throwing a celebration flag on Grover after a big touchdown. "That's the worst call I've ever seen!" said Hall of Fame coach Art Serotte. Grover scores on the two-point conversion to go up, 22-20, on Tech. Great stuff. O'Hara-St. Francis just kicked off. I'm headed to the sidelines.

7:07 p.m. Holey crud. While I fixed some blog stuff, Cardinal O'Hara returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown (I believe that's how they scored -- there were 15 seconds gone on the scoreboard) and has a 7-0 lead on the host Red Raiders. I gotta get out of the car.

7:25 p.m. Back in the car and hitting up google for "iPhone reboot" after our phone went kaput. Ugh. It was fine in the car, then I got to the field and it was dead. Uh-oh. 

On the radio, I just heard a riled-up Rick Kozak hollering that Grover beat Tech, 28-20. Quite the opener there. I kind of feel bad I don't have any Grover highlights here, but it was all Tech there at the end of the first half.

7:31 p.m. Thank you, apple.com. A reboot and we're fine. It appeared that a little piece of fuzz or paper got stuck in the slot where you put the battery in and maybe shorted it out or something. Oh well. We're back up and running and we're headed to another game. 

I don't have any video or pictures, but St. Francis and O'Hara are tied at 7-7. It turns out that O'Hara scored on its first play of scrimmage, an 80-yard run by -- I believe -- Robert Davis. St. Francis answered with a very pretty play facing a fourth-and-9 at the O'Hara 19 as senior quarterback Michael Chuchia put up a pretty pass in the right corner for senior Roland Kerr, who made the grab with plenty of room for his feet to land in the end zone. Very nice play. There is 7:46 left in the second quarter.

Too many games and not a lot of time, so I'm outta here.

* * *

7:39 p.m. I park far away from Frontier's far-away field, run through three parking lots (hey, it's good exercise) and I hear the PA announcer getting excited because Mark Schuster just scored on a 56-yard touchdown run -- but I'm still far away from the far-away field. Whoops. The Falcons take a 7-0 lead on West Seneca West.

7:54 p.m. I leave Frontier after seeing the Falcons on a nice defensive series (including the big sack above). I'd expect them to add to their lead, although the Falcons failed on a series just before I left. I think I'm headed to Hamburg next

* * *

8:03 p.m. Whoops again. Hamburg is at halftime with a 13-3 lead over Grand Island -- looks like a great game, but halftime just started and there's 15 minutes on the clock. I'm outta here. North to Lackawanna we go.

* * *

8:27 p.m. Whoa. I arrive and Lackawanna is down, 14-6, to Pioneer in the second quarter. 

Pioneer was deep in Lackawanna territory, but the Steelers stopped a run (above) and got a big sack (below) to get some key field position back.

Pioneer called a timeout, but I don't have any time to spare. I run back to the parking lot -- where I parked illegally -- and head to Orchard Park

* * *

8:49 p.m. I'm guessing OP is now in the third quarter. I'm here, but in the car doing some updating via my laptop. I gotta head to the office at about 9:15 p.m. at the latest.

9:02 p.m. The good news is that WGR is doing high school football. The bad news is that they picked North Tonawanda's home game against Williamsville North, which was a blowout waiting to happen.

And it sure happened. NT went up, 49-0, at the halftime. It just went final: NT wins, 63-0. Yikes.

* * *

9:18 p.m. I'm hitting the road after Orchard Park took a 28-10 lead over Jamestown on a touchdown run (below) by Okoya Anderson which came on the last play of the third quarter. He had a nice gain a play earlier (above) just after OP stopped Jamestown on downs in OP territory. 

* * *

9:36 p.m. Back in the office and ready to write. Stay tuned.

* * *

10:32 p.m. Our scoreboard is getting updated by the minute.

* * *

1:16 a.m. Here's a link to our football roundup, featuring Frewsburg knocking off Maple Grove (wow!). The scoreboard (linked above) is complete. High School Extra has soccer, volleyball, tennis and field hockey. 

As for the games I stopped by, it just proves the old adage: you can't tell a game by the two minutes of game action you see :-)

When I left All High, Hutch-Tech seemed OK with a lead. When I left St. Francis, it was a tie game. When I left Frontier, it was a one-touchdown lead. When I left Lackawanna, Pioneer was up and the Steeler sideline seemed to be getting nervous.

Six football games from about 5:30 to about 9:15 p.m. I've said it before, I'll say it again: I love my job.

But I'm tired. Good night.

* * *

Did you see a game tonight? Listen to one on the radio?

Let us know what you thought in the comments section below.

---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

Harvard Cup radio broadcasts in danger

This season is supposed to be the 10th anniversary season of Harvard Cup football games being broadcast weekly on the radio.

But not if they can't get enough sponsorship. 

Rich Kozak, who has been a driving force behind not only the radio broadcasts but the Harvard Cup Hall of Fame, says if he can't get sponsors to support the games he just won't be able to do them. Kozak is the Harvard Cup's biggest fan, and he works tirelessly (some would say insane-ly) out of his love for the league and its players.

However, there are costs involved in any radio operation that need to be covered. Several Buffalo companies have gotten involved in past years -- here's hoping someone steps up to support one of the very special things in Western New York high school sports.

Of course, the accessibility to games is excellent for friends and family near and far (the games are also broadcast on the Internet), but my favorite effect of the broadcasts comes during postgame interviews. You have to see the look on players faces after they've just won a big game at All High Stadium and they're being interviewed live on the radio. It's great stuff.  

The broadcasts are big-league quality, genuinely entertaining and very well done by a team led by Kozak, former Grover Cleveland coach and Hall of Famer Art Serotte and Roger Weiss. They've got stats, they've got opinions, they've even got a sideline reporter in John Pluto.

You can access broadcasts of the games via the National High School Broadcast Network (find New York and then search by the month -- there are also several state playoff games located there). 

Potential sponsors can reach Kozak by leaving a message at 627-5467 or emailing polagokoz@aol.com.

---Keith McShea

WGR broadcasting EA at Iroquois on football's opening night

Anyone remember the last time a high school football game was given major-league, major-kilowatt treatment on Buffalo radio?

It's an intriguing question because WGR told us it will be broadcasting East Aurora at Iroquois at 7 p.m. on opening night -- Friday, Sept. 4.

---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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