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Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 11:30 am

Football Preview: Alexander counting on team speed to make them a contender

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

With only one winning record in the previous six seasons, it's tempting to think of last year's 7-1 record and a three-way share of the Genesee Region League title was a bit of a fluke.

After all, in the previous two years the Trojans were 2-6 and 2-5.

Head Coach Tim Sawyer doesn't mind folks around the league thinking that way. After all, they might just be in for a surprise.

"We've had a good camp," Sawyer said. "We've had excellent attendance. They want to be good. It's a new team, but the same goal. Let's see if we can be GR champs. We've got to be perfect six, eight nights to do it, but we've got a chance."

Last year, the Trojans were big and physical. A year ago, Sawyer noted how several of his players hit the weight room hard during the off season. That training paid off.

There was no better proof of that than the season put together by Dylan Scharlau, with 1,663 yards rushing and 19 TDs.

But Scharlau graduated. So did his big offensive line and a strong, rugged QB in Nelson Burke.

At every position, the Trojans are smaller.

But they're also faster, Sawyer said.

Speed will change the nature of the offensive attack and Alexander might rely more on big plays.

Junior Jerad Brown will start at QB and he's got a great instinct for the game, Sawyer said.

Sharing the backfield will be a committee of backs, Sawyer said.

"Scharlau averaged about 27, 28 carries a game," Sawyer said. "We probably won't see that this year. We'll probably see a bunch of boys eight to 12, maybe 15 carries in a game, which I like, because all those boys will turn around and play defense."

Leading the defense will be Ty Laird, a returning starter, and a player Sawyer says is "probably the best football player in GR."

"He's crazy strong and he's running a 4.7 40," Sawyer said.

Perhaps the most interesting player on the squad is Zach Shilvock, a soccer player who last year chose tennis over football, so didn't kick for the Trojans until the last few games of the season (after tennis was over).

Shilvock gives Sawyer a weapon not to many high school coaches ever get to use -- a kicker who can put it through the uprights from as far as 45 yards out.

"I've seen him make 50s," Sawyer said.

Special teams overall could make the difference for Alexander, Sawyer said.  

"We hope that can help us get through some close games," Sawyer said.

It should be an interesting season for green and gold.

"I know people on the outside just glimpsing in think this will be a down year a little bit," Sawyer said. "Obviously, you can look and see, we don't have the size, but we've got some kids who can play."

 

Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 10:31 am

Football Preview: O-A looking for young receivers and backs to step up and make plays

Hornets fans have much to be hopeful about in the 2014 season: A third-year starter at QB with a strong arm, a strong offensive line, experienced coaching leadership, but there's also a couple of question marks.

The big issue is who among a young group of receivers and running backs is going to step up and be the playmaker to complement QB Allen Chatt.

Head Coach Brian Palone is looking to improve on last year's 5-3 record in what promises to once again be a tough Genesee Region.

"It all depends on how those guys coming in at skilled positions do for us," Palone said. "We've got some guys who are really competing at those spots for us. It will be interesting to see how we perform in the first game."

Chatt has continued to improve at QB and has become a true team leader, Palone said. He's stepped up, providing leadership to his young receivers.

"He knows what I expect of him and what we expect of the offense," Palone said.

Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 12:40 am

Football Preview: Lancers, a year older and a year hungrier

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

It's hard to find a high school football coach who will predict a winning season during an August practice session, and Elba/Byron-Bergen Head Coach Michael Cintorino is no exception.

But clearly, he has a lot to be excited about.

He's got a starting QB coming into his second year leading the varsity squad who's gotten bigger and stronger in the off season and put in the hard work to improve his skills.

He has two proven veterans to run the ball, and both his offensive and defensive lines are stocked with second- and third-year players.

Last year's 3-5 season was merely a chance to grow and learn for this group of players.

"This year, they're a year old, a year hungrier and they've been extremely competitive in practice and looking forward to the start of the season," Cintorino said.

The offense will be led by Garrett Chapell, who was shaky at times last year, but Cintorino said he's playing now with a whole new level of confidence.

"He looks fantastic this year, Cintorino said. "He put in a ton of work in the off season."

He'll have three first-year receivers, but Cintorino said they look like real weapons for Chapell so far.

The backfield will be bolstered with the experience of Steele Truax and Mike Shanley, who both proved last year they can run for positive yards and put points on the board.

So will this all add up into Ws for the Lancers, maybe a nice post-season run.

Cintorino dosn't want to go that far. Not yet.

"It's tough to say (how good the team will be)," Cintorino said. "Everyone else is probably saying the same things that we are right now, so we have to see what the league is going to look like once the season actually kicks off. Our goal is obviously to compete for a league championship and make it to sectionals and compete in the Class C sectionals, but there are a lot of good teams putting in the same work we are, so we have to wait and see until we get started."

Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 12:01 am

Football Preview: Young players already experienced in winning move into key roles at Notre Dame

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

 

With each turn of a new generation of football players at Norte Dame, Head Coach Rick Mancuso usually finds a way to mold the young players into a winning unit.

Mancuso, of course, stops short of making any predictions for the Fighting Irish in 2014, but he does say he has a good group of young men who have been working hard and putting in the time to get ready for another season.

"Last year, our JV team had a successful season, so they're coming in and they had a lot of experience last year towards the end," Mancuso said. "We pulled up some kids for sections who got some playing time, which is a big advantage for them. Hopefully, we can keep them motivated and learning every day."

The offense will now be in the hands of junior Connor Logsdon, who led that JV squad last year to its undefeated season.

He steps into the shoes of record-setting QB Tim McCulley, but Mancuso said Logsdon is now his own man with his own offense to run.

"We're not asking him to fill anybody's shoes," Mancuso said. "We're asking him to execute the offense and do what he can do. Everybody's got to do their 1/11th."

Not much about the offensive scheme will change from recent seasons. Notre Dame will run and it will pass and work at setting up scoring opportunities.

"Unless you've got all the horses up front, you can't run the offense one way or the other," Mancuso said. "We're going to mix it up. We'll pretty much run the offense we've been running right along. We won't be spread as much as we were. We'll be spread sometimes, but we've got the full confidence in this team being able to execute what we put in."

The Irish are coming off a 6-2 season that ended jarringly with a 28-0 loss to Alexander in the first round of Class D sectional play. 

Notre Dame opens the season at home against Oakfield-Alabama on Sept. 6 at 1:30 p.m.

"We've got a great group of guys," Mancuso said. "I think everybody is going to do their best to make the team successful."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Photos: Bulldawgs and Blue Devils scrimmage at Van Detta

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Bulldawgs, football, sports

The Batavia Bulldawgs and the Batavia Blue Devils met in a scrimmage this evening at Van Detta Stadium.

Who won?

Who cares. The Mini-Division (8-9 years old) Bulldawgs were clearly thrilled to be on Woodward Field and get a pre-game pep talk in the Blue Devils' locker room from Batavia Head Coach Brennan Briggs.

Briggs told his team that he heard the Bulldawgs defense hadn't given up a score yet this season, so the Blue Devils offense might have a tough time of it.

In the first series, the Bulldawgs stopped running back Dominick Mogavero behind the line of scrimmage and sacked QB Greg Mruczek.

On the first play, the Blue Devils linemen didn't block. Rather they grabbed each of the Bulldawgs in front of them and lifted them in the air over their heads. Above, offensive lineman Gunner Rapone lifts an obviously thrilled Nathaniel Heusinger.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Football Preview: Oatkan-Knights have a lot to play for in 2014

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

There's a few story lines we could take with Le Roy football for the 2014 season.

The return of starters Mike McMullen at QB and Ryan McQuillen at receiver. A team coming off a 7-1 season but a need to avenge a disappointing OT loss in the Class C sectional final. The expectations on a team with a storied tradition that has a lot of tools, but will be relying on young offensive and defensive lines.

And then there is the final season of Head Coach Brian Moran, in search of his 200th victory, a possible 14th sectional title and -- dare we say it -- a second state title in 26 years at the helm.

The story line Moran has the least interest in, his final season.

"We don't really worry about the final year," Moran said. "We just come out and prepare these kids as best we can. Whether it's your first year or last year, we just want to focus and coach kids up best we can."

Starting with McMullen and McQuillen, the Oatkan-Knights do have some key starters returning, and all of them are guys that are in their third or fourth years on varsity, such as Jon Pierce, Jake Henry, Tom Kelso, Nick Egeling and Kody Lamkin.

That's a lot of talent on a team that we know will be well coached. Is it unfair to have high expectations?

Moran won't go there.

"Every year you come in, you expect to be successful," Moran said. "That's the first thing. Hopefully, we can get ourselves better and compete for a championship again. That will be interesting to see, but it will be up to how the kids perform and how they work together."

Much will depend on the big men up front.

"We're a little inexperienced up front and you're only as good as you play offensively and defensively on the line," Moran said. "Those kids are going to have to really focus and get themselves ready."

One thing's for sure, if history is any indication, Moran and his staff will do everything they can to prepare this team to compete at a high level. Coach's last year, or not.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Football Preview: Blue Devils hunting more Ws in 2014

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

Coming into his third year as Batavia's head football coach, Brennan Briggs said both he and his players approach the 2014 season with some optimism.

There are seven returning starters on both sides of the ball, QB comes into his junior season as a second-year starter and there should be some other weapons on offense to help put points on the board.

"Overall the kids' attitude is very good," Briggs said. "They're excited coming into this season. They know they can win some ball games."

Joining Mruczek in the backfield will be a "committee" of runners.

"We've got some thunder and we've got some lightning back there," Briggs said.

During the off season, Mruczek has put the time in to make himself better, according to Briggs. He's studied film and schemes and really picked his brain to understand what it takes to run the offense.

"He's really been doing a great job for us. Great attitude, great commitment."

The coach said returning players who also seem ready to step up their game include Devon Koepp, Gunner Rapone and James Cryer.

Several sophomores who were part of the varsity last year are ready to assume bigger roles in 2014.

The Blue Devils are coming off of two consecutive 3-5 seasons.

Overall, the Briggs era continues to move forward as he works to shape the program according to his vision. 

"One of biggest things, coming into a program and kind of making it your own is setting that bar, setting the expectations of where you want it to be, so the kids understand exactly what you want  from them," Briggs said. "I think we're getting to that point where the kids understand what's expected of them every single day. They understand what kind of effort I'm asking from them."

The first game is Sept. 5, 7:30 p.m., at Livonia. The first home game is Sept. 12, 7 p.m., against Wellsville.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 11:57 pm

Photos: Batavia Bulldawgs tuning up for another football season

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, batavia bulldawgs, football, sports, youth sports

As we move into August, football is in the air. The Batavia Bulldawgs started practices this week with sessions in the late afternoon at Kibbe Park. The first league games are Aug. 16, with Batavia hosting Attica at Lions Park.

Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 9:07 am

After a lifetime of success with Le Roy football, Andrew Paladino says its time to retire

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

After 30 years of coaching Le Roy High School football, Andrew Paladino is retiring at the end of the 2014 season.

Paladino was defensive coordinator under Head Coach Brian Moran for 25 years. This season will also be Moran's last, and he and Moran always said they would retire together.

"Also, it's time to go," Paladino said during a party in his honor at the shop of Bill Fox. "We've got three former players on staff now. We're leaving them in good hands. Brian Herdlein is a very capable coach. He'll do fine."

Paladino's Le Roy football career started as a player with junior varsity in 1970. In his junior year, as the only junior on the team, he was the starting center and made the All County Team. The following year he slimmed down and started at full back and line backer and was named to the All Rochester Team, the All State First Team, and was named a Prep All American.

Rather than go to college, Paladino decided to get married, take a job and stay in Le Roy.

His coaching career started a couple of years later when he became a youth football coach (as a kid he couldn't play youth football, he said, because he was too fat).

During the Moran/Paladino years, the Oatkan Knights won a state championship (1995) and more than a dozen sectional titles. 

At the party Saturday was Paladino's high school coach, Don Santini, who joined Paladino for a cigar. Paladino said, "This is the man who started it all right here."

Photo: Santini, Paladino and Ron Plummer.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 11:23 am

Local semi-pro football team may finish out season if new ownership is lined up

post by Howard B. Owens in football, Lyndonville Tigers, pembroke, sports

The season may not be over for the Lyndonville Tigers.

Then again, it might be.

One thing President of Football Operations Taylor McCabe is pretty confident about is the team is not done and there will be a team on the field next season.

The semi-pro football team plays its home games in Pembroke and there's been reports recently that the team has folded.

It's true, McCabe said, that owner Harold Suhr has pulled out, but there are other people ready to step into the ownership role. It's just a matter of whether the ownership situation can be straightened out before this Saturday's 5 p.m. game in Pembroke.

"Harold Suhr chose to close up shop and his involvement is coming to an end," McCabe said. "There are other interested parties, current players, current management, people who are going to stay involved if the interested parties pick up the ball and run with it. We may be able to play our next game. Worst case, we forfeit the rest of the season and re-emerge next year."

McCabe said contrary to some reports, the Tigers have not lost eight players to another team. They lost two. The team has enough players to finish the season if an owner or owners can be found.

Semi-pro teams survive primarily on fundraisers and donations, and this season the fundraising hasn't gone so well, which has meant Harold Suhr had to dig into his own pocket, as owner, to ensure refs were paid, insurance was paid, and other minor miscellaneous expenses were covered.

"This year, we were last in fundraising," McCabe said. "One of the big things with this league is everybody has family, kids, social lives, family and work obligations. It's not like anybody is doing this full time."

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