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Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Mini Titans win championship

post by Howard B. Owens in elba, football, Oakfield, sports, youth sports

The Oakfield/Elba Titans in the Mini Division won their league's championship today, beating Albion 27-19.

Photo and info provided by Kevin Zito.

Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 10:47 am

Batavia, the team that shouldn't be here, has shot at sectional title after 35-12 win in semi-final

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, football, high school sports, sports

By all rights, at the end of the first half Saturday night, Batavia should have been down to Penn Yan by a score more along the lines of 28-7.

The game should have been over in every manner except the time clock.

Three turnovers, a trio of 15-yard penalties, enemy receivers allowed to roam free and the repeated gifts of good field position didn't doom the Batavia effort.

It would be fair to say the Mustangs didn't cash in on all of these gold-plated errors, but that would be only half the story.

The Blue Devils hung tough. The line stepped up and stopped the run. Rushers put enough pressure on the passing game that completions were hard to come by.

With two minutes left in the first half, instead being down 20 or 28 to 7, Batavia trailed by only five points, 12-7.

Then the magic happened.

Greg Mruczek engineered a 70-yard drive in less than two minutes that ended with a five-yard pass in the end zone to a wide open -- open as in "alone on a Kansas prairie" open -- Malachi Chenault.

A two-point conversion later and Batavia headed into the locker room with a 15-12 lead and a level of confidence that makes Floyd Mayweather look shy.

"That was huge," said Head Coach Brennan Briggs. "I would like to say that was the game right there because that just gave us the momentum to get back into it. I think if we'd gone into half time down, I think our kids really would have been in a little bit of a hole. But they've been grinding and fighting all year and that's what they did."

Briggs said he went into the locker room at half and told the team it was their game to lose.

He told them, he said, " 'we've done everything we could do wrong and we're still leading this game by three points. That says something.' "

"I said," he added, " 'we've got 24 minutes left. All the time, all the effort you've put in come down to these final 24 minutes. Do you guys want to pack it in or do you guys want to go out and dominate like we can?' "

Batavia scored 20 unanswered points in the second half and never really allowed the Mustangs to get a drive going. The win, in the end, was a blowout, 35-12.

The unsung heroes of this semi-final game -- as they often are in football -- are the offensive and defensive lines. 

Against a team that featured two heavyweights tipping the scales at more than 320 pounds each, and with a degree of athleticism, the Batavia line on both sides of the ball simply outplayed the other team's big men.

The Blue Devils feature two young men up front who are pretty hefty themselves. Seniors Gunner Rapone and Devon Koepp, who are 6' 4", 260 pounds, and 6' 3", 265 pounds.

Rapone said the men up front for Batavia are not intimidated by anybody.

"We've faced big kids before," Rapone said. "An example is Bath. Bath has a lot of big guys. We knew what we were in for. We've been practicing all week about moving our feet and driving guys down the field and opening holes up for our backs and that's what we did the second half."

One of the beneficiaries of this offensive line largess was Anthony Gallo, a quick, slashing back with a knack for making defensive players miss.

"The linemen were making huge holes and I have good vision," said Gallo, who gained 110 yards on 14 carries. "I just see where I've gotta go and I just run."

It was another big game for junior QB Greg Mruczek, who was six for 13 for 161 yards, tossing three TDs and scoring one himself on the ground.

"Going into halftime, we thought we had the better team, you know," Mruczek said. "We came out and just played tough, despite the weather conditions. We've both got to play in it so you've got to keep playing tough. We thought we did a good job coming out in the second half and just playing hard."

If game balls were given out, surely one went to Jerrett Laskett, who had a 40-yard TD reception, but more importantly, snagged two key interceptions, including the pick just before the two-minute mark of the first half that set up Batavia's game-winning scoring drive.

It was Laskett's first game ever at corner back. 

"He did an unbelievable job," Briggs said. "You know, he's come a long ways this year and I can't say just how proud I am of the kid. We just put him at defensive back this week and he gets two picks."

Chenault had two receptions for 38 yards and the TD. Dominick Mogavero had 21 rushes for 84 yards and a TD. Ryan Hogan had two catches for 50 yards. Trevor Rittersback and Koepp had five tackles each.

The win gives Batavia a shot at a sectional title for the first time since 1998. The Blue Devils haven't won a title since 1991, the program's only title since sectional play began.

This is a program that was going nowhere before Briggs took it over four years ago and Briggs and the players have talked all year about how nobody gives the team the respect of a potential champion, that winning wasn't part of the pre-season projections of pundits.

There's a sense now that those critics, whomever they are, are proven wrong.

"It's crazy," Mruczek said. "It's an amazing feeling. It just turns some heads, you know. I don't think anyone would have thought we'd be in the sectional finals this year, honestly. It's just an incredible feeling and we're all happy to be here right now." 

Mruczek gives a lot of the credit to Briggs.

"He worked very hard with us all off season, with lifting and passing with me and the receivers," Mruczek said. "He's put in a lot of time and effort. He deserves to be in this position."

For players like Rapone, who has been dreaming of being part of a winning Blue Devils program since at least middle school, said it's an unbelievable feeling to get to this point in the season.

"It's unreal to me, to be honest with you," Rapone said. "It's a strange feeling because everyone is so used to looking down on this program and it being this year, my final year, and a lot of our guys final year, and we have the opportunity that we have this year, is unreal and unbelievable."

There's another Rapone, Max, coming up the sports ranks in Batavia and Gunner thinks he and his teammates have set an example of hard work and dedication for the next generation.

"I hope Max and all of his teammates look up to what we are and want to strive to be what we have done and know they can do it," Rapone said. "I've got a good feeling they can do it."

Now the focus shifts to Livonia, as if that isn't where the focus has been all along.

The Blue Devils are 8-1. That one loss was handed to Batavia in the final seconds of a thunder-interrupted game opening week when Livonia managed a last-ditch touchdown.

Players and coaches all seem to think it was a game Batavia should have won, could have won, but didn't. Hardly a week has gone buy since where the loss to Livonia didn't figure in the conversation at some point.

It's the game that has fueled Batavia's resilience and swagger, two words Briggs has attached to his players all season.

"After losing to a good team like that, we knew we had a good team and we could compete this year for a sectional title," Mruczek said. "We came out with some confidence after that game. We almost beat Livonia, supposedly the top of Class B."

Now, as one player said, it's time for revenge. 

"We're happy we're getting a shot at the sectional title, but there's really nobody else our guys would want to have it against," Briggs said. "If you wrote up a storybook ending, you know, you really couldn't write it up any better than that."

Well, it's not quite a storybook ending. Not yet. A win against Livonia would be a storybook ending.

Go get 'em, boys.

Top Photo: Malachi Chenault.celebrates his first-half touchdown that proved the turning point of the game.

Jerrett Laskett with a key first half interception.

Jerrett Laskett with a TD reception. 

Anthony Gallo finding another big hole.

Trevor Sherwood with a long reception just ahead of the goal line, setting up another Batavia score in the second half.

Dominick Mogavero got most of his 84 rushing in the 4th quarter as the Blue Devils chewed up the clock and kept the Mustangs' offense off the field.

Mogavero gets a handle on Mustangs' QB Austin Fingar. Fingar pulled free and gained another four or five yards.

At times during the game, the icy rain and sleet came down heavy.

Fans weathered the chill and the damp.

Gunner Rapone after the win.

Post-game celebration.

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Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 8:37 am

Le Roy will play for 15th sectional title after crushing Dansville in semi-final

post by Howard B. Owens in football, high school sports, Le Roy, sports

It was a game that was essentially over before it barely began.

Inside of the first four minutes, the Le Roy Oatkan Knights had a three-touchdown lead over Dansville in the Class C Section V semi-final game played at Webster Thomas.

Going into the second quarter, Le Roy was up 29-0 on its way to a 54-0 win and a chance to play for a Section V title Friday at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester.

"I just thought everybody played well today," Head Coach Brian Moran said. "They prepared well. There's no secret, you win games in practice and I thought our kids practiced extremely well top to bottom."

Mike McMullen and Tom Kelso helped lead the offensive attack. McMullen was eight for 12 passing for 124 yards and two TDs. Kelso rushed 15 times for 117 yards and three touchdowns.

Ryan McQuillen sparked the offensive onslaught with a 75-yard punt return after Dansville was stymied on its first drive to open the game. Less than two minutes later on the game clock, McQuillen struck again, hauling in a McMullen pass for a 32-yard touchdown.

"He just makes great plays," Moran said of McQuillen. "With his speed, it's obviously something you can't duplicate in practice. I don't think people realize how fast he really is, and he can scoot."

The game, of course, wasn't all about offense. The Knights held the #4 seed, a 5-3 team coming into the came, scoreless through four quarters. Dansville's star running back, a husky Evan Dieter, was held to 91 yards on 24 carries. Even the second team, entering the game in the third quarter, held Dansville down.

"That shows how good our coaching staff is," Moran said. "I think our assistant coaches did a great job in preperation and that's important. Sometimes you forget about them and I'm very proud of them, too."

Le Roy's opponent Friday (game time is 5 p.m.) will be Bath, who beat East Rochester 51-19.

"It wil be very tough," Moran said before Bath and ER faced off. "Any sectional final game is going to be a tough football game. Bath and East Rochester are great football teams with great traditions and we'll just have to prepare themselves for who comes on top."

It will be the 18th time a Moran-coached team played for a section title game in the past 26 seasons. Le Roy has won 14 of those games. (See correction below)

"We're feeling good about things right now," Kelso said. "We've just got to keep doing what we're doing."

It will be Kelso's third chance at a sectional title, and as he noted, he hasn't been there himself. The same could be said for several members of the Knights.

Moran said those previous disappointments have taught his team what it takes win a sectional title.

"I think the kids understand that you really have to get yourself focused," Moran said. "You can't just assume that you're going to walk in and everything will fall your way. You've got to prepare yourself through hard work and dedication so you can put yourself in a position with a chance to win a sectional title."

CORRECTION: This will be the 18th time a Moran-coached team has played for a sectional title. Moran's teams have won 13 times. The first sectional title was won 1984 when Jim Laemlein was head coach. The 14 titles won by Le Roy, according to Ed Henry, is a Section V record held along with Cal-Mum and Clyde-Savannah.  Clyde plays a title game today against Avon, giving the program a shot at its 15th title.

UPDATE: Clyde-Savannah lost to Avon, giving Le Roy a shot at becoming the sole record holder at 15 for sectional titles.

Top Photo: Mike Shepard and another Le Roy defender get their hands up to block a pass from Dansville's Matt Martuciello.

Kelso scoring Le Roy's second touchdown of the first quarter.

Kody Lamkin walloped Dansville's Gage Koch on a kickoff return in the first quarter.

Tom Kelso evades a tackle attempt.

Jake Henry with a reception. Henry caught three passes for 33 yards and a TD.

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Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Batavia wins Section V Class B semi-final 35-12

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, football, high school sports, sports

The Batavia Blue Devils will get a chance to play for the school's first sectional title since 1991 in football next week after beating Penn Yan this evening, 35-12.

Above, Malachi Chenault in the end zone near the close of the first half. The score, making it 15-12, gave Batavia a lead it never relinquished.

The Blue Devils will face Livonia in the Class B final next week. Batavia's only defeat of the season came against Livonia on a last-second touchdown in the first game of the season.

We'll have complete coverage posted tomorrow.

Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Le Roy beats Dansville 54-0 in sectional semi-final

post by Howard B. Owens in football, high school sports, Le Roy, sports

Le Roy will play for a sectional title next week after beating Dansville in a semi-final today in Webster, 54-0.

Above, Tom Kelso crosses the goal line for an extra two points after the Oatkan Knights' second touchdown in the first quarter.

We'll have full game coverage posted sometime tomorrow. Now, it's time for Batavia's sectional semi-final game in Irondequoit.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Kevin Cummings scores another quintuple at Batavia Downs

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

For the fourth time this meet, Batavia Downs leading driver Kevin Cummings won five races on one card Wednesday night (Oct. 29) to extend his insurmountable lead there in the dash category.

His pentamerous outing included visits to the Purple Haze winners circle with Western Heart ($2.90), Serendipitous ($4.80), Outoftexas ($4.70), Aberarder Smitty ($11.40) and Tymal torch ($6.10).

For the current Batavia Downs meet, Cummings has 122 wins, almost double his nearest competitor, along with a gaudy UDR of .386. For the year he has 298 wins and is currently 12th in North America for UDR with a .360. His current win total, UDR and just under $1.4 million in earnings are all career bests.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Genesee on to regional finals in men's and women's soccer

post by Andrew Crofts in GCC, soccer, sports

The Genesee Community College women's soccer team will play for the 2014 Region III Division III Group B title this Saturday after winning in shutout fashion in the semifinals on Tuesday night, 4-0 over visiting Mohawk Valley Community College.

It took less than a minute for the second-seeded Cougars to grab the lead in the first half against the No. 7 seed. Kathryn Springsteen found the back of the net just 39-seconds in off of a corner kick to give GCC a 1-0 advantage. Kayla Doyle was credited with the assist on Springsteen's fifth goal of the year.

It remained 1-0 until the 30th minute when Ashley Makowski struck, heading one in off of a corner kick by Springsteen to give Genesee a 2-0 lead.

The Cougars continued to roll in the second half, grabbing a 3-0 lead in the 46th minute. Doyle buried her 14th goal of the fall off of an assist by Makowski.

Makowski ended the scoring in the 59th minute with her second goal of the game to give GCC a 4-0 lead. The goal came off of a free-kick.

The Genesee defense was solid again, allowing just four shots by the visitors. Maddie Potter made four saves in net to earn her 10th shutout win of the season.

GCC advances to the regional finals which will be held on Saturday at Tompkins-Cortland Community College. The Cougars will take on Broome Community College, which defeated Jefferson Community College 1-0 in the regional semifinals on Tuesday night. Game time is set for 10 a.m. and the winner will advance and represent Region III Division III Group B in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Tournament.

Ashley Makowski (#11 white) works towards the net in the regional semis vs. Mohawk Valley CC on Tuesday night. Makowski scored two goals in the game for GCC

 

 

For the fourth season in a row, the Genesee Community College men's soccer team will play for a regional championship after the fourth-seeded Cougars knocked off visiting No. 5 Tompkins-Cortland Community College, 2-0 on Tuesday night in the Region III Division III semifinals.

Darius Johnson put an end to just over 25-minutes of scoreless play in the first half with what would prove to be the game-winning goal, off of an assist by Ikuma Hirano. The goal was his seventh of the season.

GCC did not need any more offense as the defense stepped up and held the Panthers in check. Although TC3 managed 13 shots on the night, only five were on net and Connor Halsted made all five saves.

Johnson added an insurance goal in the 76th minute to give Genesee a two-goal cushion, and the Cougars held off the Panthers the rest of the way to advance to the regional finals.

GCC will take on Herkimer County Community College, the No. 1 seed in the tournament and the top-ranked team in the country. The Generals defeated Finger Lakes Community College 8-0 on Tuesday night in the second semifinals match.

The finals match will take place at Tompkins-Cortland Community College on Saturday at 5:30 p.m., with the winner representing Region III Division III Group A in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Tournament.

 Genesee lost its only regular season matchup with Herkimer on Oct. 18, 4-0.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Ramparts Homecoming is Saturday at Faletti, theme is 'Pink in the Rink' in support of cancer aid

post by Billie Owens in announcements, Batavia Ramparts, GAHA, sports

Press release:

This Saturday, Nov. 1, is Homecoming for the Batavia Ramparts Youth Hockey Association. The theme of this year’s event is “Pink the Rink.” Special festivities start at 9 a.m.

Games start at 10 and our State qualifying Midget 16U team plays at 8 p.m. against Rochester Youth for 1st place in the division.

According to the Genesee Amateur Hockey Association, (GAHA) parent organization of the Batavia Ramparts, all of the Batavia Ramparts youth hockey teams playing home games will be showcased. Games will be played at all levels all day long so please join us at Faletti Ice Arena, 22 Evans St., Batavia for some great hockey.

There will be basket raffles and a photo booth for all to partake in. Each team can make a “team” poster and it is a fun day for the players to show the community how much they love their sport.

As part of our theme – “Pink the Rink” – each team is encouraged to wear pink, along with their families and fans. GAHA will be having two special fundraisers, selling pink items, to benefit Genesee Cancer Assistance, Inc. It's a community-based, volunteer organization dedicated to assisting cancer patients and their families. They strive to improve the quality of life while helping to diminish suffering through their services and financial support. Genesee Cancer Assistance provides services to residents of Genesee County with any type of cancer.  All monies raised stay in Genesee County.

GAHA is a local organization that depends on the local community. In that light, we want to set the example to our players of “giving back.” Our organization doesn’t exist without the support of the community and it’s families so we want to show the importance of giving back and raising funds for a local volunteer organization.

GAHA has been providing the youth of our communities an opportunity to play hockey for more than 35 years. With teams at all levels -- Empire, WNY and MOHL, along with a beginners program -- we offer something for every age child who wants to play. Don’t go through life without goals – play hockey!

Monday, October 27, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Fireyourguns an easy winner in Batavia Downs feature

post by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, harness racing, sports

Fireyourguns with driver Mike Caprio

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

With three horses scratched in an already short field, Fireyourguns had it pretty much his own way while winning the $9,500 Open pace at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Oct. 25).

Starting from post four in the four-horse field, Fireyourguns (Mike Caprio) immediately went to the front and held the lead through fractions of :27.1, :56.4, 1:25.4 before holding off a late challenge from Unicorn Hanover (Dave McNeight III) to win in 1:54.2 by half a length. The winner paid $3.40.

It was the 14th win of 2014 for the 5-year-old son of American Ideal and it boosted his annual earnings to $95,560 for owners Robert and Jennifer Lowe and Terrence McClory, who also trains the horse.

Leading Downs driver Kevin Cummings had a driving double along with John Cummings Jr., Drew Monti and Jim McNeight.

The next card of live racing at Batavia Downs will be held on Wednesday night (Oct. 29) with post time set at 6:35.

Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 7:45 am

Avon's elusive QB ends Alexander's football season

post by Howard B. Owens in alexander, football, high school sports, sports

Above are three pictures that illustrate the problem Alexander faced Saturday in its Class DD Section V semi-final playoff game against Avon in Honeoye Falls.

The problem's name is Joe Sotak, the 155-pound, 5'9" stick of butter who led the Avon offense to a tally of 26 points over four quarters of whack-a-mole.

When Sotak could be caught, he proved impossible to hold.

The senior QB was seven for 10 passing for 96 yards and a TD. He also rushed for 147 yards and two TDs on 22 carries.

In the sequence above, Sotak pumps but doesn't throw as Rick Amico and Derrick Busch appear to be closing in for the sack. Sotak glided a step or two forward, causing Amico and Busch to whiff, then lofted a pass just over the heads of Tristan Aldinger and Cody Trzecieski to where only Avon's Zack Loomis could catch it as he stood on the three-yard line. Loomis needed only turn and take a couple of steps into the end zone.

The Trojans managed to cross the goal line once all afternoon, and that score didn't come until the 4th quarter.

A bad snap prevented Alexander from putting at least three on the board in the first half.

Final, 26-7.

Alexander finishes with a 5-3 record while Avon advances to face Clyde-Savannah in the Class DD final next week.

"It wasn't the result we were expecting tonight," said Head Coach Tim Sawyer. "We had a good week of preparation; however, Avon controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage. Avon played physical and fast tonight.

"Our overall body of work for the season has been quite good," he added. "We won some big games along the way. I hate to see the seniors go, but they have left their foot print on this program over the past two years."

Just before the end of the half, with the Trojans down 12-0, an Alexander player got a hand on Joe Sotak and nearly dragged him to the ground, but Sotak spun away and turned what looked like a certain sack into about a 30-yard gain, all the way down to the two-yard line. The gain, however, was negated by a block to the back foul later in Sotak's run.

Tristan Aldinger scores for Alexander

Tristan Aldinger with the ball

Jared Browne at QB

Action early in the second half

Jared Browne with a pass

Avon's star running back Brandon Mynter was mostly contained by the Alexander defense.

Head Coach Tim Sawyer

Alexander HS grad Matt Szymaski, home on leave from the Marines, attended Saturday's game.

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