There’s no good way to put a positive spin on an 0-9 season, but with the track record Riverside football owns, the Frontiersmen are hoping to look past a down year after a Class AA North title and several Harvard Cups.
A new coach has improved the morale of the team, and the opening game of the year – in Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome Sept. 2 vs. Auburn – has the players thinking big things for the 2012 season.
“We’re starting at the dome, and I want to end at the dome,” said senior quarterback Justice Feggans, referencing the New York State title game played at the same location.
Feggans, also Fourth Team All-WNY in basketball, was dismissed from the football team by the former coach earlier in his career, but, urged on by his family, he wants to give football another go in his last high school season.
“I had to play football,” he said. “It’s my first love.”
With a new coaching staff in place, led by head coach Jose Rodriguez, Riverside is putting away its double-wing, option offense – which fell out of favor with the players as it struggled to score points – in favor of a spread attack.
“What the double-wing did was use deception and speed, where now we’re just going to be using our speed,” Rodriguez said. “We’re going to get to the outside because we already got our receivers out there.”
From the spread attack, which utilizes multiple-receiver sets, opposing defenses will be forced to cover all the receivers out wide. From there, the middle of the field will be open for Rodriguez’s rushing attack to pick up yards in chunks.
Rodriguez was Riverside’s offensive- and defensive-line coach for seven years before taking last season off. The players know him from working at the school and are taking a liking to his style.
“He’s a cool dude,” Feggans said. “He’ll crack jokes and keep you laughing, but he’s serious about football too. And when he’s serious, he’s serious."
And with this new mentality around the program, Feggans, a Riverside native, plans to help restore the team and the community to its winning status.
“[Everyone] is pumped. This school is based on the football team,” he said. “That’s what people talk about: Riverside, they got them boys over there that really know how to play football. I think this year, Coach Rodriguez is going to put us out there and showcase us to the world.”
Tony Truilizio, who coached the Riverside football program to great success in the Buffalo Public Schools for the last decade, has been named the new coach at North Tonawanda.
Trulizio told The Buffalo News that he accepted the job offer from NT athletic director Cindy Bullis on Tuesday night.
"I'm grateful for everything that happened at Riverside, and I'm so excited about working in a new community and working with the kids at NT," said Truilizio, who said he will remain a physical education teacher at Riverside, where he will also continue to coach swimming and lacrosse. "It's a professional decision to move upward. My ultimate goal is to coach at the collegiate level. To move in the direction of NT is just a blessing."
Riverside won the Buffalo Public Schools' Harvard Cup championship four times under Trulizio, including its final season in 2009. When the Buffalo schools joined Section VI for the 2010 season, the Frontiers won the AA North title.
"It's bittersweet," said Truilizio. "If it weren't for those kids [at Riverside], the Buffalo Public Schools and Riverside, I wouldn't have this opportunity. The success came from the hard work of the kids and we had a great staff that allowed me to be a successful coach. You can't do it alone."
Rick Tomm coached NT last season but did not reapply for the position. Tomm followed Eric Jantzi, who coached at NT for 11 years -- including the 2009 Class AA state championship -- before stepping down.
"Everybody knows abotu the T-NT game and I'm looking forward to that," said Truilizio. "I'm looking forward to being a competior and obviously our goal is the same as everybody else's: to win a state championship. The division is nice, but winning states is what it's about."
* * *
Truilizio raved about the NT program. I've often said that NT football games are one of the best game-day high school sports experiences in Western New York.
Their new football coach has been a fan of the program for a long while, and it wasn't forged in football.
Truilizio was impressed with NT dating back to his time as a swim coach for Grand Island.
"hen I'd walk in as a coach from Grand Island, you'd see the stands full, parents, fans, just the general community," he said of the swim meets. "People would treat you with the utmost respect, even if you were an opponent. This was my first experience with NT, must have been 15 years ago.
"After I got the job at Riverside, coach Jantzi opened up a four-way scrimmage and we at Riverside got into it for three or four years. When we'd walk in as kids from Buffalo, they had respect for the team, for the kids, for me as coach -- the community was there, the booster club was there. It was just the most wonderful feeling walking into NT.
"I'd go to scout at NT and go to sit in the stands, and you'd just see left to right a full stadium of students, parents, alumni -- I was in shock. I'd walk in there wearing my Riverside colors, and instead of being jerks the fans were the most wonderful fans. 'Hey coach do you need anything?' They'd move over. I've been around long enough -- you don't get that everywhere."
* * *
Trulizio's Riverside lacrosse team, which consists of players from throughout the Buffalo Public Schools, is a member of the Independent Lacrosse Conference this season. The Frontiers, which are fielding varsity and JV teams this year, open its varsity season at home at 5 p.m. Friday against Newfane.
We're doing our running-around-to-games thing tonight, and for the second straight night we're doing a Twitter experiment. I'll be much more mobile if I just tweet, so that's what I'll probably do while I'm running around. At the end of the night I'll provide some overall thoughts and details here.
And if you are out at any kind of varsity high school action, tweet updates with the hashtag #preptalkscores.
You just might win the #preptalkscores Tweet of the Night (check out last night's).
Here's the plan: Hutch-Tech at Riverside (6 p.m.), MST Seneca vs. I-Prep/Grover at Medaille (6), Emerson vs. OTC Middle College at Waterfront (6), Tonawanda at Lackawanna (7) and Williamsville East at Hamburg (7:30).
Here we go. See you on the tweeter.
* * *
You can check out the tweets for my travels ... here are some video highlights ..
Foremost among them is the history-making moment for Tonawanda's Jesse Lalka -- yes, it's a free throw, but it was cruicial in putting the undefeated Warriors up four in the final seconds of a 46-41 win at Lackawanna. Scroll down for six highlights, plus interviews, from that one.
Pretty cool "Jess-ee Lal-kaa!" chant after the big point.
Hello from the Buffalo State Sports Arena. We're moments away from our first game of a tripleheader tonight: the B-2 semifinal between Cleveland Hill and Wilson.
It's one of the best weeks of the year if you're a high school sports fan, and I'm excited to be here. We'll be back in moments with the tip.
Wilson starters: Thilk-Moxham-Parrott-Martin-Walch.
Cleve Hill starters: Glover-Tompkins-Barker-Molson-Spencer
5:31 p.m.: CH controls the tip, and we're off.
5:37 p.m.: CH leads, 6-4, midway through the first quarter. Brennan Moxham has three of Wilson's points, while Jeru Molson just converted a nice layup off a steal for CH.
5:39 p.m.: Maybe some nerves on the big stage? Lots of sloppy play on both ends. Cleve Hill definitely trying to run more, while Wilson is trying to slow the pace.
5:42 p.m.: CH is out to a 13-4 lead, prompting a timeout by Wilson coach Brett Sippel. A three-pointer by Jordan Parker on the Golden Eagles' last possession were the last points.
5:44 p.m.: Golden Eagles lead, 13-8, after one quarter. Moxham hit a three and Pat Walch went 1 of 2 at the free-throw line with 4 seconds left for Wilson to cut into the lead.
5:48 p.m.: CH timeout, leading, 17-15. Moxham has five in the second quarter for Wilson, which took a 15-13 lead, but the Eagles responded with a bucket in the lane by Barker and a steal and layup by Spencer.
5:53 p.m.: CH timeout, leading, 19-18, 3:35 left in the first half.
6 p.m.: Halftime, with the game tied, 25-25.
First-half note: Here's your scoring summaries: For CH, Tompkins has 2, Barker 4, Parker 3, Molson 4, Watkins 2, Davis 4 and Spencer with 6. For Wilson, Moxham leads all scorers with 15. DiLaura has 1, Walch 1 and Martin 8.
Programming note: Tyler Martin is wearing No. 30 for Wilson, not the No. 11 he's listed as having in the program.
6:10 p.m.: Third quarter is underway.
6:13 p.m.: Martin misses both free throws for the Lakemen, who trail by a pair. Wilson has been bad from the free-throw line, a big reason it's trailing.
Quick blog note: Making an executive decision to switch up the format and go with the time left remaining in the quarter. If you need to know what time it is, look at the corner of your monitor. :).
4:49 left in the third quarter: Jordan Thilk makes a traditional three-point play, Wilson's first points of the third quarter, and CH leads, 31-28.
3:01 left: Moxham gets his first points of the second half, as Wilson uses good ball movement to beat the 2-3 zone the Eagles have employed. CH leads, 33-30.
:24.3 seconds left: Spencer draws the foul and knocks down a pair of free throws to give the Eagles a 35-30 lead.
End of three, Cleve Hill up, 35-30. Martin missed a good look at a three for Wilson at the buzzer.
7:08 left: Moxham hits a pair of free throws after Martin started the quarter with a three and it's tied, 35-35.
5:04 left: More than 2 minutes without a hoop ...
4:18 left: The drought comes to an end when Walch hits 1 of 2 free throws to give Wilson a 36-35 lead.
3:36 left: Big-time three-pointer for Spencer to put CH up, 38-36. That's followed by a timeout.
2:47 left: Another clutch three by the Eagles, this time from Julian Glover. CH leads, 41-38. Wilson has possession.
1:22 left: Moxham drills a deep three for Wilson to tie it at 41. Wow.
1:07 left: Molson responds for the Golden Eagles with a contested 16-footer in the lane. It's 43-41. Good finish here.
:31.1 seconds left: I wasn't kidding about the great finish. Martin pures a deep three from the right wing to put Wilson up by one, 44-43. CH has possession after Wilson's Walch picked up his fourth foul on a battle for a rebound.
Here's Martin's three:
:11.4 left: Moxham grabbed a big board on defense for Wilson, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1. That gave the Eagles the ball, but Molson lost the ball in traffic. Wilson's Martin recovered. He hits 1 of 2 free throws to make it 45-43 Lakemen. Cleve Hill will have a chance to tie or win on the final possession. The next Wilson foul puts the Eagles in a 1-and-1 situation.
:3.7 left: Barker goes coast-to-coast, but can't finish at the rim. Ball goes out of bounds off CH. Wilson has possession. Eagles will need to foul, and hope for a miss.
0.09 left: Diez gets open under the basket, and Cleve Hill is late to foul him. He rattles home the first and knocks down the second, giving Wilson a four-point lead.
4:35 left: The shutout is over. Alex Curtin hits a long jumper to give Olean a 2-0 lead. On East's next possession, Chris Boyd hits a three. East leads, 3-2.
End of first quarter: East leads, 10-6. Sorry for the lack of updates, combination of a lot to do, and not a lot happening at the start. East got hoops from Jasen Oden, Tremmell Fisher, and a three-pointer by Chris Boyd for the lead. Nick Schmidt hit a three at the buzzer for Olean.
7:31 left: Sam Eckstrom opens the quarter with an inside field goal to bring Olean within two, 10-8.
3:51 left: Andre Jackson knocks down a pair of free throws and East leads, 19-13.
2:58 left: Max Portlow, a sophomore, has back-to-back baskets for the Huskies. The last one cut it to 19-15.
2:19 left: Fisher gets inside position and finishes a traditional three-point play to give East a 22-17 lead. If he catches the ball there regularly, Olean will be in trouble.
:40.8 left: It's turned into a three-point shooting contest. A three by Curtin for Olean was answered by a three for Boyd, only for Schmidt to respond for Olean. After all that, the Huskies are up one, 26-25, their second lead after Curtin's shot gave them their first.
End of first half: East 30, Olean 26. Action really picked up at the end of the first half. Boyd hit another three for East, which then got a steal by Oden on the inbounds pass. He kicked it to Jackson for a 12-foot buzzer-beater, and the Panthers are up.
7:00 left: The Huskies didn't forget their shooting stroke in the locker room. Sophomore Pat Scholla knocked down a three in the first minute to cut East's lead to one, 30-29.
5:56 left: Olean goes back in front as Eckstrom gets nice position inside and finishes with a short bank shot for a 31-30 lead.
4:03 left: Dominique House is cleaning up -- the glass. The 6-foot-4 East senior has back-to-back putbacks, the second of which he was fouled on. He knocks down the free throw and East leads, 37-31. The Panthers are on a 7-0 run.
1:47 left: East has extended the run to 13-3, taking a 43-34 lead and prompting a full timeout by Olean coach Jeff Anastasia. House had a long jumper, then a steal and pass to Oden, who's got back-to-back layups in transition.
:19.7 seconds left: Olean gets a much-needed hoop underneath by Eckstrom, who was fouled and hits the free throw to pull the Huskies within six, 43-37.
End of three: East 43, Olean 37.
6:44 left: Scholla at the line for Olean. He knocks down a pair of much-needed free throws, as East is threatening to run away with things. It's 48-39, East.
6:31 left: Another three-point play for House, making it 51-39, East. Coach Starling Bryant calls for a 30-second timeout.
4:26 left: Timeout called, with East ahead, 55-42. Updates will be minimal from now until sometime during the last game as I write a story for our paper's first edition, which of course, you can pick up tomorrow. :) I'm sure you understand.
3:19 left: Full timeout called by Olean, which trails, 56-44.
1:42 left: Beautiful passing by East finishes with an easy layup (sorry, I missed by who) and East leads, 61-46. The Panthers will face the winners of the night's final game between Cheektowaga and Riverside for the A-2 title at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
:30.7 seconds left: Olean is hanging around, but running out of time. The Huskies trail, 61-53.
Final: East 66, Olean 56. Off for interviews. Back at some point during the last game with some more coverage.
What's the question mark for, you ask? A No. 3 is on the court for Cheektowaga, but not the roster. I'll get his name after the first quarter. As for the action, Riverside leads, 8-6, with 2:39 to play. We'll update after the first quarter and halftime, then hopefully be able to give more updates in the second half.
End of first quarter: Cheektowaga 12, Riverside 11.
Halftime: Riverside leads, 28-21, after outscoring the Warriors in that period, 17-9.
5:23 left: A bucket by Willie Jefferson has given the Frontiersmen a 35-23 lead. Cheektowaga has just 11 points in the last 11 minutes.
4:36 left: Lamont Little to the line, and he makes both for his first points of the night and a 39-23 lead.
3:06 left: Delaney hits the layup and is fouled. He makes the free throw and Riverside leads, 39-28. A modest 5-0 run for the Warriors.
2:38 left: Make that 7-0 as Aswad Jones knocks down an 8-footer and it's 39-30. Riverside coach Ron Killinger calls timeout after that.
1:00 left: Justice Feggans just buried a pretty three-pointer from the right wing to give the Frontiersmen a 44-31 lead.
End of three: Riverside 44, Cheektowaga 33
5:33 left: Dagger for the Warriors. Feggans knocks down a three after Riverside uses up almost the entire shot clock. That gives it a 53-35 lead.
3:31 left: Riverside still in control, up 55-37.
3:09 left: Killinger calls another timeout, still 55-37. Brandon Nance has all four points for Cheektowaga this quarter.
1:35 left: Riverside still on cruise control, so Killinger empties the bench to get the reserves some playing time on the big stage.
Final: Riverside 58, Cheektowaga 42. Off for more interviews.
Riverside coach Ron Killinger
Postgame: Audio from the winning coaches is now posted in this blog. The East-Riverside matchup Saturday will be the third of the season for those two teams. Be sure to listen to Killinger's thoughts on that game, he's got some interesting thoughts.
After East, I wrote a bunch of my story in the parking lot, then headed to the Delavan-Grider Community Center because Dunkirk was playing Oracle Charter there. By the time I got there, Dunkirk's lead was 69-28 with just under five minutes left. I was hoping to get at least a look at Dunkirk -- albeit against not the best competition -- but it wasn't much of a look with the game already in rout city.
I'm finishing up my story now and then I'll be on hand for the chat.
Big news from other city games is that International Prep at Grover Cleveland was taken to overtime before beating OTC Middle College, 80-78.
Hello from Ontario Street for a Yale Cup showdown originally scheduled for last week as East visits Riverside.
6:02 p.m. Riverside has gone on a nice run in the second quarter to take a 26-16 lead with 2:33 left in the second quarter.
East had led, 13-10, after one.
It is an odd environment here -- odd in that it is quite quiet for a Yale Cup game, especially one at Riverside. It seems like there are no students in the balcony above my head -- that section is usually jammed and jamming all game. The pace of the first quarter (I walked in three minutes in at 5:40 p.m.) was quite slow, and the half has been more methodical than run-and-gun.
6:06 p.m. Nice block by Mike Leonard for Riverside, leading to a fast-break basket by Justice Feggans in which an in advertent moving screen my another player heading to the basket cleared the way; 28-16 Riverside under a minute.
6:07 p.m. Deon Artis with a sweeeet block of Jasen Oden, coming across the baseline to swat away what looked like an open layup. Oden hit one of two free throws shortly beforehand; 28-17 Riverside with :28 left in the second quarter, timeout Riverside.
6:10 p.m. Oden misses two, Fisher gets teh rebound of the second free throw and scores -- very nice play -- to bring it to 28-19 in the final seconds. Oden stole the inbounds pass and was fouled just before the horn and will go to the line with no time on the clock; misses the first, makes second.
6:11 p.m. We are at HALFTIME and Riverside leads East, 28-20.
Best line of the day so far belongs to Riverside assistant coach R.J. Killinger. His dad, coach Ron, was screaming at the top of his lungs at a player after a missed free throw: "RELAX! RELAX!"
R.J. Killinger summed up the ironic situation, "Man, you're screaming, 'Relax."
6:21 p.m. Feggans with a nice fast-break follow for Riverside for a 30-20 lead to open the half.
Lamont Little of Riverside hit with a technical foul with 7:08 left in the third. Chris Boyd to the line and he hits two for a 30-22 game and East keeps possession.
6:27 p.m. A few computer problems. Ugh. East on a good mini-run to come within 32-27 and prompt a Riverside timeout with with 6:02 left in the third.
6:28 p.m. Turnover Riverside. Big rebound Mark Anderson for Riverside and he's fouled with 5:36 left in the third.
Gilbert Herrera misses a three for Riverside; turnover Riverside.
6:29 p.m. East coach Starling Bryant calls for a 30-second timeout with 5:18 left in the third and Riverside leading, 32-27.
6:30 p.m. East misses twice, another rebound by Anderson.
Anderson off a nice pass, scores on the baseline; 34-27 Riverside. Mike Leonard with a big block. East turnover. Riverside miss, foul.
6:33 p.m. Dominique House scores down low for East; Chris Boyd with a steal and he's fouled going in for a layup with 3:37 left in the third; makes first, misses second, 34-30 Riverside.
Raqib Hassan scores on the baseline and is fouled, misses the free throw.
House with a putback; Riverside, 36-32. Artis misses jumper. East the beneficiary of a faulty charge call on Riverside. Jason McDaniel on a putback; followed by a Herrera driving bank shot; Riverside, 38-34.
Feggans with a big follow on the baseline; Riverside, 40-34, under two minutes.
6:38 p.m. Two straight baskets by Boyd, followed by House taking a pass from Boyd in the lane for a layup to tie it up at 40-40.
Some confusion in the final minute thanks to the Riverside shot clock operator getting out of her seat to try and get Riverside fans to answer East fans making noise. Sigh.
6:40 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, Riverside and East are tied at 40-40.
6:44 p.m. House again with a putback on opening possession; East, 42-40. Riverside miss, keeps ball, Artis with a tap-in follow; 42-42.
Fisher drives to the right and banks it in; 44-42. Under 6:45.
Forced shot by Riverside on the baseline. Boyd scores on a nice pass from Jason McDaniel.
Missed shot by Riverside turns into a fast break and Andre Jackson lays it in for a 48-42 lead for East, prompting a timeout by Riverside with 5:29 left. Nice start to the quarter for East, scoring off of misses by Riverside, which has not been in sync on offense.
6:49 p.m. Feggans with a follow for Riverside; 48-44 just over five minutes left.
East miss on a nice play that doesn't go down for McDaniel, then a foul; East miss; misses by both.
6:52 p.m. Boyd with a layup, 50-44 East; McDaniel blocks Deon Artis. Artis fouls Boyd, fifth foul for Artis, that's big. Boyd hits first, hits second, East leads, 52-44, with 3:42 left.
6:53 p.m. East forces Riverside turnover. Jackson from Fisher on a nice drive and dish, 54-44.
Steal and fast break by Boyd, 56-44. Herrera baseline bank shot, 56-46. East travel, 2:30 to go.
6:55 p.m. Herrera fouled, misses both. House goes to the basket and is fouled with 2:04 left. Makes both; 58-46.
6:57 p.m. Technical foul called on McDaniel; Feggans misses two. Steal by Riverside, Anderson fouled going in for layup by Fisher; 1:36 left. Misses first, makes second. 58-47. Riverside steal and layup by Anderson, 58-49. Foul on Herrera with 1:15 left on Andre Jackson, he goes to the line. Hits one for 59-49 lead.
East's Starling Bryant rightly called for a technical foul. Just too much jawing. Feggans misses both free throws on the technical. East calls a timeout, 1:15 left in the game, East leads, 59-49.
7:03 p.m. Boyd to the line, hits two; East, 61-49, with :59 left.
7:05 p.m. Andre Jackson steal, he's fouled with :51 left. Hits both; East, 63-49.
A Riverside player left the gym; officials say he has to be on the Riverside bench. He's back. It was Hasan.
Three-pointer by Willie Jefferson; timeout Riverside with :41 left and East up, 63-52.
7:08 p.m. Boyd fouled. Hits first, misses second. Riverside, 64-52. Riverside players laughing at fans trying to taunt Boyd at the line with one-liners.
And here is our updated take on the playoff picture in AA North:
Kenmore West (4-1): Clinched spot, can win division title by beating Riverside.
Lockport (3-2): Clinched spot.
Williamsville North (3-2): Clinched spot.
Riverside (3-2): A win not only gets them in but earns it the division title.
A loss means they are likely out and NT is in.
How likely? The only scenario that Riverside can make the playoffs with a loss is if they lose to Kenmore West in a close game (four points or less) AND Lockport or Williamsville North beats the other by a lot (16 points or more). (See explanation below).
North Tonawanda (3-3): Makes it if Kenmore West beats Riverside by more than a field goal OR the margin of the Lockport-Will North game is less than 19 (same explanation below).
Niagara Falls (2-3): Out no matter what.
* * *
Why have Lockport and Will North clinched spots? And how can Riverside advance with a close loss?
The first tiebreaker is head-to-head. If two teams are tied, it's easy. If there are three (or more) teams tied, head-to-head only works if one team has beaten both (or all) of the others.
The next tiebreaker is point differential, as defined to me by Section VI chairman Ken Stoldt as a team's total point differential in all of its league games. There is a maximum differential of 20 points (if you win by 20 or more, you only get plus-20; if you lose by 20 or more, you only get minus-20).
The teams' point differentials entering the final week:
Williamsville North is +34. Lockport is +33. Riverside is +17. NT is finished at +6. NFalls is -26.
[Note: I had Lockport and Riverside's numbers both off by one because we at The News had Riverside's 23-16 Week Six win listed as 23-17. Sorry. Yikes.]
The loser of Will North-Lockport will be 3-3, will have beaten NT (3-3) and Niagara Falls (likely 3-3), will have lost to Riverside (3-3) and will own a strong point differential. Any scenario results in the winner of Will North-Lockport clearly making the playoffs and the loser making it on tiebreakers.
If Riverside loses, it is tied with NT, very likely Falls and the Lockport/North loser, all at 3-3. None of those teams have beaten all of the others, so point differential is used.
Riverside's best-case point-differential after a loss (losing by one) is +16. Will North's worst-case point-differential (losing by 20 or more) is +14. Lockport's worst-case point-differential is +13.
If Riverside loses, NT is in and Riverside is out as long as Riverside loses by five or more (giving Riverside a +12, which would be less than Will North or Lockport's worst-case); OR Lockport beats Will North by 17 or fewer (giving Will North a +17 or greater); OR Will North beats Lockport by 16 ore fewer (giving Lockport a +17 or greater). Those +17 or greaters for Will North/Lockport would be better than Riverside's best-case scenario in a loss (+16).
Here's why: The Will North/Lockport loser would win the No. 3 spot based on winning the point-differential tiebreaker. Then the head-to-head tiebreaker comes back into play among the remaining tied teams, with NT taking No. 4 since it beat both Riverside and Falls.
A scenario of a close Riverside loss and a big margin of victory between Lockport and Will North would make Riverside the No. 3 team based on point differential; the Lockport/Will North loser would be No. 4 because the head-to-head tiebreaker comes back into play (the Lockport/Will North loser beat both Falls and NT).
(If there is an unthinkable tie in point differential, the Section VI handbook says the next tiebreaker is total points allowed. Since the tiebreaker would be between two teams, I sure hope it would rever to head-to-head).
Why is Niagara Falls out? Because the only win it has over a team it might be tied with at 3-3 is over Riverside (Falls lost to North, Lockport and NT). If Falls beats Hutch-Tech, there will definitely be at least a three-way tie at 3-3. There's no possible scenario in which Falls' head-to-head victory over Riverside benefits them. Falls' maximum point differential is -6 (if it beats Hutch-Tech by 20 or more) so it loses out on any point differential tiebreakers.
* * *
If this is not correct, email me. But break it to me softly.
Once again we'll have updates throughout the night here from our PrepTalkTV team, so check in throughout the night and get familiar with that refresh button.
3:38 p.m. We're off to Nichols, which hosts Niagara Catholic in a 4:30 p.m. start, a good location for us to get our night kicked off. The interesting thing about the game is that it is Niagara Catholic's opener, which postponed its Week One game with St. Mary's to the end of the season due to some problems fielding a full team, then had two bye weeks.
Video reporter Lauren Mariacher and I will be on hand and we'll have our video intro of the night up by around kickoff.
4:28 p.m. It's just about kickoff time here. The Nichols public address announcer -- some may be familiar with him from basketball season -- is entertaining all by himself. He delivers arena-caliber introductions even though there is a friends-and-family crowd of tens here. Throw in a muscular sound system and we have some North Buffalo-mansion window rattling stuff here. His roaring announcement of the game featuring "YOURRRRR NICHOLLLLLLS VIKINGSSSSS!!!!!" is greeted with claps and cheers -- but it's only like 10 to 12 claps and cheers.
4:37 p.m. Here's our intro for the evening:
4:46 p.m. Nichols stops Niagara Catholic on its first drive, then quickly moves downfield -- with plays all on the ground -- and scores on a 6-yard run by senior standout Matt Benedict. Benedict adds the two-point conversion run and Nichols takes a quick, 8-0 lead.
Niagara Catholic started its next possession with 7:38 left in the first quarter and continued to look like it is their opener -- a bad snap leads to a fumble and a 20-yard loss deep in their territory; on the next play another fumble goes into its end zone and Nichols gets a safety for a 10-0 lead with 6:12 left in the first.
While we saw Nichols overwhelmed here last week by Cardinal O'Hara, the Big Green plays good football under coach Colin Brinson. It beat JFK in its opener and hung with Grover Cleveland in a Week Two game that went down to the wire.
Niagara Catholic may have had a late start, but it looks ready to go for its opener -- its cheerleaders are here and it has at least as many fans here as Nichols does.
4:52 p.m. Nichols rolls downfield again and Benedict runs in from 3 yards out for another score, followed by an Adam Noonan two-point conversion run, for an 18-0 lead with 4:11 left in the first.
4:52 p.m. Nichols is having a fine day here on its fine turf fields. The boys soccer team has a 5-0 lead on St. Francis and there's still more than 12 minutes left in the first half. That's a surprising score there since League AA soccer in the Monsignor Martin Association usually consists of tough matchups no matter who is playing.
5:05 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, Nichols leads, 18-0, and again has the ball deep in Niagara Catholic territory.
5:06 p.m. Another Benedict touchdown (2 yards) -- no points after this time -- and Nichols leads, 24-0, with 11:54 left in the second quarter.
5:18 p.m. Another Benedict touchdown, but this one is much longer -- 85 yards. Benedict got a great block for about the last 50 yards from freshman Mike Geiger, who shielded off the only tackler that had a shot for a TD-saving tackle. A two-point conversion pass failed and Nichols leads, 30-0, with 6:26 left in the second quarter.
5:35 p.m. It's halftime here with Nichols leading Niagara Catholic, 30-0. With a little rain coming down, Lauren and her laptop have hit her in-car editing booth and so have I and my laptop. Lauren is headed next to Riverside to catch a little early action of McKinley against Niagara-Wheatfield before joining me at All High Stadium for NT-Riverside. I'll be heading over there early to make sure I'm settled in for the big game.
Here are Lauren Mariacher's first-half highlights along with Niagara Catholic coach Don Marinucci talking about having his team start the season in Week Four:
6:30 p.m. After a pit stop, we've pulled into All High Stadium where there is already a decent crowd filing in for NT-Riverside.
7:02 p.m. We're about to kick off -- Riverside is kicking off to NT. In a not unexpected development, senior standout and starting quarterback for NT, Joe Montesanti, is said to not be playing tonight. He took a big hit late in the first half of last week's win over Niagara Falls.
WGR (550 AM) has the Hamburg at Williamsville South game.
Here's Buffalo Public Schools superintendent James A. Williams chatting before the game with photographer John Hickey:
7:07 p.m. North Tonawanda didn't take long to strike, and their fans are being heard loudly here at All High. On second-and-4 at the NT 35, junior quarterback Pat Angelhow kept the ball on the Lumberjacks' option and Riverside just couldn't find him. He ran 65 yards for the TOUCHDOWN, Justin Bacon adds the extra point and NT leads Riverside, 7-0, just 1:40 into the game.
7:14 p.m. This one is going to be fun. Riverside comes back with a big-play drive that ends with a TOUCHDOWN by Harold Millender, who took and end-around to the right side for a 15-yard score. Sophomore Roland Wapalo -- who wasn't with Riverside last week it appears -- boots a low liner up and good for the extra point and we are tied at 7-7 with 6:57 left in the first quarter.
Earlier in the drive, junior quarterback Jeremiah Cormack hit senior Charles Pawlak down the left sideline for a big, 43-yard gain -- it was third-and-18 play from the Riverside 36 to move the Frontiers to the NT 21.
7:24 p.m. UPDATE from Lauren at Riverside: McKinley and Niagara-Wheatfield are scoreless after the first quarter.
7:29 p.m. At the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER, NT and Riverside are tied at 7-7. Riverside has a first down at its 47.
7:32 p.m. Big play for NT as senior Ryan Daigler steps in front of a Cormack pass for an interception and he's tackled with a face mask. With the penalty, NT starts at the Riverside 28 with 11:05 left in the second.
UPDATE from Riverside: Niagara-Wheatfield takes a 7-0 lead on McKinley in the second quarter.
7:45 p.m. We have a timeout by NT with 3:15 left in the second quarter with NT facing a third-and-9 at the Riverside 35.
7:49 p.m. A lot to recap since that timeout. On the next play, Riverside senior Aweis Aweis (that's the name. I like it) knocked down a pass attempt on a halfback option by NT, which used that play to score a touchdown last week against Niagara Falls. On the next play, NT converted on fourth-and-9 when Angelow hit a swing pass to the left to a wide-open Justin Bacon, who nearly went for the score but was bounced out of bounds at the Riverside 4.
Two plays later, senior Rob Wikierski ran to the left behind a nice push from the line for a 1-yard TOUCHDOWN. The extra point by Bacon was wide right and NT leads Riverside, 13-7, with 2:14 left in the second quarter.
7:56 p.m. Again -- this will certainly be a fun one. Because again -- Riverside comes right back with a TOUCHDOWN after a big play. On third-and-5 at the NT 40, Cormack rolled right and let go of a pass while jumping, and Justice Faggens made a play of his own while jumping, leaping for a great hands-catch over a defender and getting Riverside to the NT 7.
One play later, junior D'Yontae Parker ran up the middle for a 7-yard score. Wapalo's kick went wide left and the score is tied at 13-13.
8:04 p.m. At HALFTIME, Riverside and NT are tied at 13-13.
UPDATES: Photographer Mark Mulville reports that Orchard Park leads at Frontier, 6-0, after the first quarter.
McKinley scores on a 58-yard pass play to cut Niagara-Wheatfield's lead to 12-8 with 1:35 left in the second quarter, thanks to a report from Lauren at Riverside.
Here's Lauren Mariacher's report from that game, including some pregame words from McKinley coach Ed Wilson regarding the Macks' big win over Grand Island last week:
Williamsville South had a 13-7 first-quarter lead over Hamburg, according to Roger Weiss' report on WJJL.
8:10 p.m. Great game and a great atmosphere here -- tough for me to judge the crowd, but it's the most people I've seen at All High for a game. I'd probably guess 1,500 or so -- the central sections here are pretty packed. Rich Kozak says this is probably the largest regular season crowd here in five years.
8:23 p.m. We're under way with the second half; Riverside set to receive. After another look around I'm bumping my estimate up over 2,000. Great crowd here.
8:25 p.m. UPDATE from Mulville at Frontier: OP's lead over the Falcons is 6-0 at halftime. The score was a 10-yard run by Okoya Anderson in the first quarter. ... Thanks to WJJL: Iroquois up, 19-14, at West Seneca East and McKinley has taken a 16-12 lead on Niagara-Wheatfield at Riverside thanks to a touchdown run and extra-point run by Rutledge. ... Lackawanna, 14-7, over Dunkirk in the first half.
8:49 p.m. My apologies about the delay, some blog problems here. At the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, Riverside and NT are still tied at 13-13. NT had two good drives end in field goal attempts by Justin Bacon, but the first went wide left and the second was short.
8:51 p.m. UPDATES from Sean Bruso: Lew-Port leads Maryvale, 20-14, in third quarter -- game will be on Time Warner SportsNet Sunday evening at 7. ... Williamsville South up on Hamburg, 28-7, after three quarters.
Big one here -- report of Cheektowaga and East tied at 8-8.
8:58 p.m. Since Bacon's second missed field goal late in the third, Riverside punted, then NT punted after Riverside sophomore Tyler Biedron came up with a big sack on third down.
9:06 p.m. NT has gone ahead with a TOUCHDOWN on a 32-yard play by Wikierski -- tough to tell because it was on the far side, I believe it was an option pitch to the speedy back on the outside, because he scooted down the left sideline for the score. The extra point by Bacon was good and NT leads Riverside, 20-13, with 4:13 left.
There are radio reports that there were Riverside complaints that the play was either an illegal forward pass -- later radio report says it was a forward pass, but a legal one because Angelhow was not over the line of scrimmage. So it's a touchdown pass.
9:12 p.m. BIG interception for NT as Ryan Drass comes down with a pass that was off the hands of Charles Pawlak over the middle.
9:14 p.m. NT runs for a first down and that should be it -- Riverside calls a timeout with 1:10 left.
9:16 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: North Tonawanda 20, Riverside 13.
Time for interviews and some serious running around. What a game.
UPDATE from Mulville at Frontier: OP's lead is 27-0 over the Falcons in the fourth quarter. ... McKinley's lead is 24-19 over Niagara-Wheatfield with 3:18 left in a back-and-forth game.
9:39 p.m. UPDATES: BIG RESULT from Cheektowaga, where East has beaten defending Class B champion Cheektowaga. ... OP leads Frontier, 30-6, with four minutes left. ... Lew-Port beats Maryvale, 33-14. ... McKinley wins, 24-19.
10:21 p.m. Whew. Story is done for first edition. Video report is coming soon.
Here it is:
The final from Frontier was OP with a huge, 30-6 victory over a fellow top 10 large school. Frontier was ranked fifth ahead of No. 6 OP in the poll (but I have to say not on my ballot). Okoya Anderson had three TDs.
11:10 p.m. Whew again. Story done for second edition. I called Riverside coach Tony Truilizio to get his take on the winning score, and he said it was "definitely forward ... there were lineman downfield."
I've watched our video a bunch of times and it sure is hard to tell from that angle. NT coach Eric Jantzi, Angelhow and Wikierski all said it was a lateral.
A little trivia: NT players wear their helmets during interviews because the Jacks have a rule that if they are on the field, they are wearing their helmet. I was wondering what was up with that, because the Jacks would do interviews that way last year as well. I like it.
In other finals: Lancaster 45, West Seneca West 0 ... Williamsvile South 42, Hamburg 7. ... Iroquois 38, West Seneca East 17 ... Here's the WOW score of the night: East 14, Cheektowaga 8 ... East Aurora 30, Springville 0 ... Lackawanna 28, Dunkirk 7 ... Albion 38, Tonawanda 15 ... Alden 31, Newfane 14 ... Wilson 14, Roy-Hart 0 ... Southwestern 38, Allegany-Limestone 0. ... Fredonia 45, Falconer 0 ... Portville 22, Cattaraugus/LV 7 ... Maple Grove 39, Clymer 0 ... Chautauqua Lake 36, Westfield 0 ... Randolph 55, Franklinville 0 ... Pine Valley 32, Ellicottville 0 ... Frewsburg 41, Forestville 0 ... The final from the game we started at tonight is not a surprise: Nichols 40, Niagara Catholic 0. ... Eden 48, Gowanda 6 ... Medina 18, Akron 6.
My apologies regarding our scoreboard not being update or being incomplete tonight. We had some massive malfunctions.
Due to those malfunctions, no audio wrap from me. I will go over the results here, if you miss the audio version, spoken word editions can be arranged for a fee. Baddump-bump. >
The East win at Cheektowaga is tremendous, perhaps surpassing McKinley's win over Grand Island as the top city win of the season. Again, the city teams come through with another impressive weekend (and it's only Friday). Riverside and NT went right down to the wire as well, of course. McKinley got a sterner test than I expected from Niagara-Wheatfield, but the Macks came through in the end to keep some Class A North drama building -- next Saturday they're at Sweet Home.
The OP score is certainly impressive -- in the chat this week I mentioned how those teams have been known to play some close games in the past. I thought OP would win, with the chance of a Frontier upset, in a close game. Quality showing by OP but this was Frontier's first real test against a high-quality opponent this year -- maybe Frontier's 3-0 mark wasn't as worth as much as we thought.
Lancaster took out its frustrations big-time in getting its first win. ... Will South's score was close for a while but that's what we expected -- Joe Licata is two TDs away from setting the all-time WNY record. ... Nice win for Lew-Port by a surprising margin at Maryvale. ... Another huge victory margin for Fredonia. Whoa.
See you tomorrow morning from the "Cleveland Bowl" -- a top 10 small school between Cleveland Hill and Grover Cleveland at Riverside at 10 a.m. After that I'm headed to Canisius' Stransky Complex in West Seneca at 2 to see how the undefeated Crusaders fare against Cathedral Prep's powerful program, and I'll probably check out All-High's 4 p.m. show between Lafayette and Amherst.
* * *
As always, we want to hear from you about what you've seen tonight.
Let us know what you thought of the teams, players -- even the hot dogs
-- in the comments section below.
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.
Lauren Nicole Mariacher joined The News in 2009 after graduating from the Columbia University School of Journalism. The Elma native and Iroquois graduate can usually be found on a sideline, capturing highlights for PrepTalkTV. She also hosts Prep Talk's weekly live show, with Keith McShea, as well as The News' live postgame Bills show — [BN]TheHuddle.