Week Four is one that packs some punch with some very key matchups involving some of the biggest and best programs in Western New York, from the city to the suburbs to the private schools.
The marquee games of the evening are in Class AA, where Riverside takes on North Tonawanda at All High Stadium at 7 and Frontier hosts Orchard Park at 7:30.
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.
7:03 p.m. Tonight's game is being broadcast by WJJL 1440 AM and is available online.
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.
7:32 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.
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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.
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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.