Hello once again from Buffalo State, and a big apology. We had some power problems here at the start, but should be good to go now.
We're in the second quarter of the first Section VI Class A-2 semifinal between No. 3-seed Bennett and No. 2 Kenmore East. It's Big Wednesday in the high school basketball world, as colleague Keith McShea coined it earlier today. Keith is at Canisius covering the Manhattan Cup, while Tyler Dunne is down in Jamestown, covering the Class C semis. We've got all the bases covered tonight.
We'll be live the rest of the night, so stick with us.
4:36 left in the second quarter: A pair of free throws by William Vanoy has given Bennett a 23-9 lead.
3:05 left:A 7-0 run by East has cut the score to 23-16. Dante Bono has five of those points for the Bulldogs.
1:00 left: P.J. Blanch put on a sick dribbling display there for Ken East, drawing a reaching foul, but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1, so East still trails, 31-18.
Halftime: Bennett 32, Kenmore East 22. A nice drive and layup by Bono brought the half to a close.
First-half notes: Both teams are led by a few select scorers. For Bennett, William Vanoy has 11, Mckenzie Brown has 8, Forest Richardson leads with 12 and Kevin Johnson has 1. Dante Bono leads the Bulldogs with 10, while John Alessandra has 8. P.J. Blanch has 2, as does Jakai Daniels.
6:47 left: Eden Asipi cleans up a miss and puts it back and the Bulldogs are making a game of it with the first four points of the quarter.
5:32 left:Bennett gets the next four to get its lead back up to 10, with buckets by, who else, Vanoy and Richardson. It's 36-26.
4:44 left: The pace has slowed a bit with fouls on both ends. After Bono went 1 of 2 for East, Vanoy hit a pair for the Tigers, who lead, 38-27.
2:58 left:Steal and bucket in transition for Derrick Turner gives the Bulldogs a 40-29 lead and frustrates East, which thought Bono got fouled underneath. He probably did, but no call.
2:43 left: Bono hits a three after a nice set play to beat a 2-3 zone. Bennett's up 40-32.
1:24 left: Bono is trying to shoot the Bulldogs back into it. He hits a deep three from the right wing to make it 42-35.
End of third quarter: Bennett 42, Kenmore East 37. This is as close East has been since almost the tip.
6:02 left: Bulldogs are getting a huge lift from Alessandra, who has five points this quarter -- the only points scored -- to tie the game. He just completed a traditional three-point play after a strong drive to the basket. Bennett has called timeout.
5:23 left: Bulldogs call timeout to maintain possession with it still tied at 42. Important because East has just two timeouts left now.
4:51 left: Back-to-back turnovers by East has led to five points by Bennett. A transition layup by Richardson and a three-pointer by Derrick Turner. Huge momentum changer. Bennett leads, 47-42.
Stoppage in play with 4:05 left after a collision between Bono and Vanoy resulted in a cut above the eye of the Bennett player. He's being attended to by the trainers on the Bennett bench.
3:05 left: Derrick Turner with his second huge three-pointer of the final quarter to give Bennett an eight-point lead, 50-42.
1:47 left: Bono with a transition layup to cut it to six, 50-44.
1:07 left: Full timeout by East, which has one left. The Bulldogs trail, 52-44, after Richardson hit a layup for Bennett after the Tigers broke the press.
:29.1 seconds left: Bono can SHOOT. He hits two silly-deep threes to pull East within four, 54-50. Timeout by Bennett.
:11.5 left: Bono fouls out, a huge blow to East's chances. Vanoy goes to the line and makes 1 of 2 to put Bennett up five.
Final: Bennett 57, Kenmore East 50. Off for interviews.
Bennett coach Randy Rakowski
Bennett senior Forest Richardson
We're back for the second game, with the starters.
Will South: Stasiak-Licata-O'Connell-Hansen-Adams
3:52 left: Timeout, H-T, after losing an 8-2 lead. Engineers now trail, 9-8, after a reverse layup by Erik Hansen of South.
2:50 left: Stasiak to the line. He hits 1 of 2 and it's tied at 10.
2:22 left: Stasiak for a three to put the Billies ahead, 13-10.
End of first quarter: South leads, 18-12. Stasiak hit another three for the Billies. Updates will probably be limited for the next hour or so while I write a story for our print edition.
7:19 left: Hansen with a great tip-in off a Stasiak missed three. Hansen was fouled on the play, as well, but missed the free throw. It's 20-12, Billies.
6:11 left: Full timeout by H-T coach David Rappl. His team trails, 22-15.
4:01 left: Joe Licata fouled on a three-pointer for South, but he misses 2 of 3. South is up, 25-19.
Halftime: Will South leads, 27-25.
Scoring update: Hutch-Tech -- Andrew Strugg has 4, Marcus Nelson's got 9, Nelson Clark with 4, Maurice Miles has 2, Denzell Washington has 2, as do John Cherry and Tim Whitehead.
Will South -- Aaron Adams has 5, Joe Licata 1, Dan Schaus 4, Phil Stasiak's got 7, Kevin O'Connell with 6, and Erik Hansen with 4.
4:39 left: Stop me if you've heard this before: a three-pointer for Joe Licata. His first of the game gives the Billies a 34-27 lead.
:48.8 seconds left: Consecutive baskets in transition, one by Miles and one by Nelson, has given Hutch-Tech a 40-36 lead.
Note: Bennett is on a 13-0 run.
:22.5 left: Stasiak stops the run with a free throw, making it 42-37.
End of third quarter: Hutch-Tech leads, 45-37. Engineers ended the third quarter on a 16-1 run.
4:34 left: Will South senior Aaron Adams gets good position inside and finishes the layup to pull the Billies within two, 47-45. Adams is a 6-foot-4 senior.
:21.7 seconds left: Will South has completed the comeback and looks like it will advance. Phil Stasiak had the play of the game, a driving layup on which he was fouled with :55.2 seconds left. Stasiak hit the free throw to give the Billies a 56-52 lead.
:13.8 left: A desperation three-pointer is off the mark for the Engineers, and South is going to advance. Schaus is at the line for the Billies. He hits them both and it's 61-52.
Final: South 61, Hutch-Tech 52. Final score doesn't indicate just how close the game was. Back later after interviews with some audio.
Here's a couple postgame interviews from the winning side:
Williamsville South's Joe Licata has been a PrepTalkTV subject for his record-breaking football career, and Friday we saw him do his three-point shooting thing in basketball. It is part of a three-pronged episode featuring a big win for Maryvale and fine performance by Sacred Heart in our first visit to a girls hoops game.
Review the action -- thanks to video reporter/producer Lauren Mariacher -- and get our breakdown of the top games of the upcoming week:
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My bad (chest-tap): Please excuse my stuffy voice due to my stuffed-up head and the cold I'm fighting.
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You can find all of our videos easily by going to the video player and clicking "PrepTalkTV."
As always, if you were at a game tonight, let us know how it went here in our comments section.
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5:56 p.m. The cozy Nichols gym is getting cozier as fans file in for the big game. The girls are on the court for their pregame shootarounds. There are 13 minutes counting down on the scoreboard. The preceding game here was a St. Francis-Nichols JV boys game won by the visitors.
6:04 p.m. Both coaches -- Ron Torgalski of Nichols and Sister Maria Pares of Sacred Heart -- are standing under their baskets as their teams go through the final minutes of warmups.
6:14 p.m. We're tipping off.
6:17 p.m. Katie Healy reverse layup is answered by a Njideka Boble basket. An open Christina Healy off a nice pass. Katie Healy with a nice drive from the left side for a 6-2 Sacred Heart lead. Standout freshman Taylor Rooks is fouled with 5:49 left in the first; she misses both.
6:19 p.m. Taylor Rooks with a nice steal and drive; Sarah Pawlak answers inside off a nice bounce pass. Sacred Heart, 8-4. A runner by Sloan Walton for Nichols; travel on Sacred Heart with 4:22 left in first.
6:22 p.m. Rooks with a great hustle play to swipe a loose ball Sloan Walton hits a three for a 9-8 Nichols lead. Crowd loved it.
6:23 p.m. Katie Healy off a rebound; Sacred Heart, 10-9. Under three minutes. Nice baseline floater by Walton; Nichols, 11-10.
6:24 p.m. Katie Healy with a fast-break layup; Noble from Meghan Heldwein off nice ball movement from Nichols; Katie Healy with a nice reverse layup in traffic, nice awareness of where she was.
6:26 p.m. Sophomore LaTrice Hall of Sacred Heart drops a baseline jumper from the right side (right in front of me as I'm sitting on the court, photographer-style) just before the buzzer to give Sacred Heart a three-point lead.
At the end of the first quarter, Sacred Heart leads Nichols, 16-13.
6:29 p.m. Krissy Russo starts the second quarter the way Sacred Heart ended it -- hitting another three on a bank-shot.
6:30 p.m. Following a Nichols turnover, Bridget Andrews swishes a three from the left side for Sacred Heart for a 22-13 lead. That prompts a timeout by Nichols coach Torgalski with 6:47 left in the second quarter.
6:31 p.m. Rooks with a fast break; 22-15 Sacred Heart; Sharks travel; Nichols turnover; Sacred Heart miss; Nichols miss; Sarah Pawlak hits another three for Sacred Heart and the lead is 25-15 with under five minutes to play in the second.
6:34 p.m. Pawlak is fouled and hits one of two with 4:33 left in second; 26-15.
6:35 p.m.Another three by Sacred Heart as Pawlak drills one from the left baseline. Wow. Great shooting by the Sharks. Nichols calls another three-induced timeout with 3:36 left in the second quarter and Sacred Heart up, 29-15.
6:45 p.m. WOW what a finish to the quarter by Sacred Heart, which scored the quarter's last 17 points. Whoa.
At HALFTIME, Sacred Heart leads Nichols, 39-15.
A recap of the fantastic finish to a 23-2 quarter for Sacred Heart:
A Pawlak block of Rooks -- I believe her second in two possessions -- leads to a three-pointer by Russo for a 32-15 lead with 2:05 left. A turnover by Nichols was followed by a layup by Katie Healy with 1:40 left (34-15). A Pawlak steal translated to an un-boxed out Hall putting in an offensive rebound for a 36-15 lead. One free throw by Katie Healy and two by Russo in the final minute pushed the lead to 24.
6:51 p.m. I'm going to take off to Williamsville South to make sure I get a good seat for the Billies game with Bishop Timon-St. Jude. More updates to come.
7:36 p.m. Hello from Williamsville South, where we are plugged in courtside and we're about to tip off.
We're about to kick off Week Three a little early -- but we're a little late.
Tonight's special edition football doubleheader -- due to Williamsville schools' observance of the Yom Kippur holiday -- begins with Williamsville South at Amherst in a top 10 large school battle.
6:06 p.m. The kickoff was to be 6 p.m., but Williamsville South arrived late -- word is that Main St. traffic, which is pretty rough at this time of day, was even worse due to an accident. Funny that a school so close would be late due to traffic.
6:15 p.m. Duke McGuire, who was inducted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame this past summer, is in his traditional spot doing the public address here and has introduced the teams and we're almost ready to go.
6:23 p.m. Amherst receives the ball but doesn't go anywhere; three-and-out and South takes over with 10:19 left in the first quarter at the Amherst 48 after a short Phil Stasiak punt return.
6:28 p.m. Williamsville South scores the game's first TOUCHDOWN as Joe Licata hits Buddy Ammerman on a screen pass to the left and he goes 15 yards for the score. Josh Neuss adds the extra point for a 7-0 South lead with 8:48 left in the first.
6:40 p.m. South takes a timeout with 1:34 left in the first facing a third-and-6 at the Amherst 7; it's South's second drive.
6:42 p.m. Joe Licata's pass is deflected on third down, so Neuss kicks a 22-yard FIELD GOAL to give South a 10-0 lead with 1:29 left in the first.
6:48 p.m. We are at the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER with Williamsville South leading Amherst, 10-0.
6:56 p.m. We have another South drive, and another South score. Ammerman runs in from 3 yards out on a TOUCHDOWN; Neuss adds the extra point for a 17-0 South lead with 9:21 left in the second quarter.
7:01 p.m. Amherst didn't need this -- Cody Stumpf nicely reels in a deflected pass for an interception to set South up at the Amherst 31 with 9:03 left in the second.
7:03 p.m. On fourth-and-6 at the 27, South calls a timeout; Licata does a mini-scramble, then finds Billy Jacobbi on the right side -- Jacobbi runs about 5 yards for the TOUCHDOWN. Neuss adds another booming kick that is up and good and South leads Amherst, 24-0, with 7:10 left in the second.
Let's go to the iPhone video replay:
7:10 p.m. South's first empty trip of the game just concluded when Ammerman came up short on a fourth-and-3 run from the 32 of Amherst. Nice play by Christian Clark to bring him down and the Tigers take over at their 35 with 4:45 left in the second quarter.
7:16 p.m. Another empty trip by South ends with a not-so-good punt by Licata from the South 11, which sets up Amherst at the South 18 with 1:39 to go.
7:20 p.m. Amherst takes four shots but turns the ball over on downs, two runs and then two incompletions on third-and-6 and fourth-and-6. South took over and ran out the clock.
We are at HALFTIME and Williamsville South leads Amherst, 24-0.
7:48 p.m. The second half has begun, and it's Groundhog Day here as South drives and scores. The Billies started at their own 11.
Here's a big catch by Stasiak to help set up first-and-goal during the 11-play drive:
The drive finished with a 4-yard pass from Licata to Kevin O'Connell on fourth-and-goal. Licata rolled right and threw slightly across his body to find O'Connell in the middle of the end zone. Neuss adds another extra point and South leads Amherst, 31-0, with 7:45 left in the third quarter.
Here's the highlight of that one, sorry it's a little fuzzy:
7:55 p.m. Our Groundhog Day theme continues -- just like in the first half, a quick turnover sets South up with a short field. Amherst fumbled on its first play of its drive and South's Anthony Missana recovered the ball at the Amherst 26 with 7:31 left in the third.
Six plays later, which included a fourth-and-10 conversion when Licata hit Billy Jacobbi on a slant patter to take South to the 6, Ammerman ran in for a 6-yard TOUCHDOWN. Neuss' extra point makes it a 38-0 lead for South with 5:48 left in the third.
8:07 p.m. It is the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER with Williamsville South leading Amherst, 38-0.
This is not what you expect of a game between two teams ranked in the large school top 10. Then again, I feel compelled to note that my ballot was different than the poll. This is when I suppose I should drop one of those "just sayin" deals that have become so popular. I just didn't think Amherst had shown enough to earn a spot in the top 10.
8:12 p.m. Amherst had the ball to start the fourth but lost it on downs; South has the ball and is driving, mostly on the ground. South has second-and-10 at the Amherst 38 with 9:30 to go and counting.
8:18 p.m. South scores another TOUCHDOWN after running its way down the field. Senior Joe Paglicci runs in from 1 yard out for the score while senior lefty kicker Lorenzo Pierini booted the extra point to give South a 45-0 lead with 6:59 left to play.
8:27 p.m. Amherst just displayed some of the speed that had helped them to a good start. On fourth-and-2 at the Amherst 28, senior Cameron Matthews took an end-around handoff to the wide right side and simply sprinted past everyone on the field on a 72-yard TOUCHDOWN. The point-after was a completed pass from sophomore quarterback Justin Twarog to junior Glenn Belton. The score is now Williamsville South 45, Amherst 8 with 4:51 left.
8:33 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Williamsville South 45, Amherst 8.
Just when I thought last weekend was a long -- but fun -- one for football (just scroll down and see), Week Three gets kick-started a day early with some bonus football tonight.
The Williamsville schools are playing their traditional Thursday games due to Friday's Yom Kippur holiday, and this year we're treated to a top 10 large school matchup as No. 2 Williamsville South visits No. 9 Amherst at 6 p.m.
The second game of the night has an intriguing angle as Williamsville East first-year coach Chris McDuffie takes on his alma mater, Williamsville North, and the game is -- get your Northtowns compass ready -- at Williamsville South with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Should be a fun night. It sure was last year, when South quarterback Joe Licata threw for a Section VI record 492 yards in a 62-32 home win over North (check out video highlights from that game). Note: that blog has the yardage total that was originally reported but was later changed.
Here's our poll asking your choice of the weekend's top game (it's also available, as always, at our high school home page.
Our poll to kick off the week brought in about 800 votes as of Wednesday night -- excuse me while I pat myself on the back for that one for providing choices that apparently people dug. Clarence's first win over OP in a decade rightly won the poll, and a whole zero percent picked the none-of-the-above option.
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).
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.
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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Personally, I could have used a less-busy week to have us go to a new Web site. Like maybe a week when our area isn't hosting the Empire State Games in its return after a one-year layoff :-).
By now you've seen the new look -- generally I like it. Gotta love the bigger photos. I'm sure we'll be working out the kinks in several areas, so please be patient, but definitely let us know what you think.
All of the links that were based on our high school homepage are unfortunately gone with the change in our system. I'll try to put up a post with all of those links so all that information can be accessible.
Also, there are some problems with links on blogs from the last few days not working. Our apologies. That's a result of the switchover in sites and it is something we're working on.
As for the Empire State Games, our preview is online (that's the main story with other features linked there). See what I mean about the great big pictures? Definitely check out the sport-by-sport preview
ESG fans and organizers have to hope that the today's 30 percent chance of rain has already been taken care of with a few sparse storms this morning. Opening ceremonies are at 7 tonight at the University at Buffalo. The forecast, however, says there will be a 30 percent of rain and thunderstorms through the evening hours.
As I waited out one of the storms in the parking lot at One News Plaza, I heard Janet Snyder and KISS 98.5 give the Games some big-time love. Snyder, who will be broadcasting at the Empire Family Village that begins at 3:30 at UB, gave away opening ceremony tickets to any ESG family members calling in.
She gave away three sets on the air, including to Williamsville South field hockey coach Mary Ferenczy, whose daughter, Alison, is on the Western field hockey team.
Mary mentioned other top players Allie Ahern (Williamsville North) and Allison Brace (South), prompting Snyder to ask, "and do you have to be named Allison to be a good field hockey player?" Nice.
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.