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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."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Batavia Bulldawgs host football and cheer camp at GCC this weekend

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

Press release:

The Batavia Bulldawgs Youth Football & Cheer program will hold its 5th Annual Extreme Youth Football and Cheer Camp. This year’s camp cosponsored by Extreme Streetwear will be held at GCC Fields this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday July 10th – 12th.

Walk-up registration still available. Cost for the camp is only $30.

Campers will receive quality instruction from USA Football certified coaches, a camp T-shirt, and lunch at the end of camp on Saturday July 12th.

Camp on Thursday & Friday will run from 4 to 6:30 p.m. with check-in at 3:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 to noon with check-in at 8:30 a.m..

The camp is open to ALL athletes no matter what league affiliation between the ages of 6 to 13 years old by Dec. 1st. Birth certificate is required.

Camp is a stationed-based training where campers are divided by age and experience level so each athlete receives the right level of instruction and support. The Bulldawgs staff and volunteers will teach techniques, skills, and appreciation for all football positions and cheerleading in a fun, positive way!

For more information, please contact:
Extreme Streetwear at 585-344-4411
League Commissioner John Reigle – 716-228-5787
Cheer Director Sherri Wahr – 585-356-0639
Or by e-mail at bataviabulldawgsfootball@gmail.com

Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Drug days behind him, former Oatkan Knight gets another shot at life and football

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

On a cruel April morning in 2011, Craig Tiberio looked at himself in the mirror. The man he faced stood accused of dealing drugs and assaulting a police officer. Looking at that mirror affixed as it was to a jailhouse wall, Tiberio didn’t like what he saw.

“I was at the end emotionally,” Tiberio said. “I knew there wasn’t anyplace to go but up unless I wanted to keep living the life that I was living. I obviously knew that if I got back on track, I had the potential — if I was motivated enough — to play sports again.”

As a high school junior, Tiberio had been a standout receiver for the Le Roy Oatkan Knights. He was at least a legitimate Division III prospect entering his senior season. All he wanted to do, or so he thought, was play football at the collegiate level.

Craig describes his childhood as challenging, chaotic, as anything but stable. Sports, especially football, was an escape.

“I always clung onto sports,” Craig said. “It was my time free from thinking about what was going on in my life.”

An injury changed everything. 

In the sixth game of his senior season, Craig Tiberio suffered a stress fracture in his spine.

That meant pain medication. It meant time away from the field, from his teammates, from everything that had kept him anchored.

It’s a familiar story in sports — injury, pain medication, followed by a need to self-medicate with whatever street drugs might be available. The pattern killed former Padres pitcher Eric Show. There are countless cases of high school and college athletes you never hear of whose lives were altered by drug use after an injury.

The story of Craig Tiberio is the story of a once-promising athlete who hit bottom and then turned his life around. He entered guilty pleas May 27, 2011 in Genesee County Court to assault, 3rd, criminal possession of a controlled substance, 4th, and to DWI. As he stood before Judge Robert C. Noonan that day, he faced a near certain four-year prison term. Back in court weeks later with positive progress reports, Noonan gave him a second chance. Step by step since, he’s made the most of it. He’s on the dean’s list at Buffalo State University. He volunteers with third- and fourth-graders in Buffalo. His assigned practice squad includes Buff State’s best players, and if he avoids injury, he has a shot of starting at tight end for the Bengals.

A passion for sports
It’s been long path paved by determination and family support since Tiberio gazed into the jailhouse mirror that April morning in 2011, with just the glimmer of a thought that maybe, maybe, he could rekindle his dream of playing college football and pursue a career in coaching.

He’s made it this far.

“You’ve got to ask yourself 'how bad do you want to be successful?' in any aspect of life,” said Tiberio after an early morning spring practice at Coyer Field.

He sat on a near-side bench under an optimistic blue sky while teammates who missed an earlier practice pushed 50-pound weights on their hands and knees up and down the sideline, from the 50 to the goal line and back, 10 times each.

“Some people are just completely content with working a minimum-wage job and being able to do anything they want, but for me, I appreciate freedom more than I ever did. Some people take that for granted. It comes with how much pain are you willing to deal with before you want your life to get better.”

When Craig was but a few months old, his mother moved him from Fairfax, Va., where he was born, to Le Roy. She started living with Art Nicomento, an electrician, and the couple stayed together until Craig was 5.

Then things started to unravel. According to Nicomento, Craig’s mother got hooked on drugs. The couple separated, but Craig stayed with Nicomento. Eventually, Nicomento became Craig’s legal guardian.

“He was a good kid, a smart kid,” Nicomento said. “I wanted to take care of him.”

Tiberio said he gravitated to sports at an early age. It was his salvation through years of turmoil. He doesn’t go into much detail, nor does Nicomento, but Craig clearly loves Nicomento, whom he calls “Dad.”

Talk to anybody in the community about Art and Craig and they will tell you, Nicomento was always there for his son.

By his sophomore year in high school, Craig Tiberio was turning heads on the gridiron, the hardwood and in track and field. Any sports story previewing Le Roy’s chances in the football or basketball seasons included Tiberio as integral to the team’s potential success.

As a junior, Tiberio stood 6’ 3” and weighted 175 lbs. He was athletic and fast. His junior year, he was the Section V champ in the long jump and the triple jump. He also ran on the team’s 400-meter relay team and won a few meets in the 3200 and the 100-meter dash. In basketball, there isn’t a game story that doesn’t list the strong forward as pouring in at least a dozen points and pulling down four or five rebounds.

In Le Roy, football is king and football was Tiberio’s passion. He combined speed, height and agility to haul in passes no defender could touch.

“I always had the attitude in high school, standing on the field across from another player, they can’t stop me,” Craig said.

Jim Bonacquisti, an assistant coach for the Knights, remembers Tiberio as a big play maker. A Tiberio TD reception helped stop a long Hornell home-winning streak. One of Tiberio’s big scores against archrival Cal-Mum came on a fourth-down reverse in a sectional semi-final. Then he intercepted a pass to help seal the deal.

Tiberio was named to the Livingston County Athletic Association’s all-star team on both offense and defense his junior year. (Le Roy is in the Livingston County footbal league). He was also named to the all-state team. He averaged 20 yards a reception and picked off seven passes playing free safety.

“I would rank him behind Mike Humphrey and Brandon Fulmer as far as the best we’ve had in my tenure,” Bonacquisti said. “Ironically, Craig getting hurt his senior season opened the door for Mike’s increased playing time in 10th grade. In Craig’s junior year, he caught anything near him, plus he was a pretty good safety. He wasn’t a big hitter, but he was usually around the ball.”

Unsportsman-like conduct
In his senior year, Tiberio said he was already hampered by a minor back injury, but continued to play. In five starts, he only had eight catches for 88 yards and one TD. On defense, he only had three tackles and two assists.

Friday night, Oct. 6, 2006 was homecoming for the Perry Yellowjackets. Unfortunately for the Perry student body, the Yellowjackets were scheduled to play their homecoming game against an undefeated Oatkan Knights team who would go on to win the Section V Class C title.

Tiberio was having one of his best games of the season with three receptions, including one for a TD, when late in the 4th quarter, with the Knights up 48-0, Tiberio snagged Heath Henrickson’s pass for an interception and returned it 33 yards before being tackled by a Perry player.

... More after the jump ... click the headline or the link below the picture ...

Monday, April 7, 2014 at 9:44 am

Photo: Blue Devils participate in football scrimmage in Rochester

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

Batavia Blue Devils Head Coach Brennan Briggs sent along this photo of members of the football team following a 7-on-7 scrimmage last night in Rochester. The team played non-scoring scrimmages against Rush-Henrietta and Churchville-Chili. "The team did a great job competing," Briggs said.

Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Batavia Bulldawgs announce registration date

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

Press release:

The board of directors and coaching staff of the Batavia Bulldawgs Youth Football & Cheer program are excited to announce the open registration dates for their upcoming 4th season. We look forward to welcoming new and returning athletes to the Bulldawg family.   

Registration will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, at the Batavia City Centre (east entrance, near Sunny’s Restaurant). Boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 14, attending Batavia area schools (that are not affiliated with another NOFA team) are eligible to participate, with no weight restrictions. All athletes will be placed in developmentally age appropriate divisions based on the following league age rules: 

Football divisions (NO WEIGHT REQUIREMENTS):
Beginner (ages 6-7; must be 6 by 12/1, can’t turn 8 prior to 12/1)
Mini (ages 8-9; must be 8 by 12/1, can’t turn 10 prior to 12/1)
JV (ages 10-11; must be 10 by 12/1, can’t turn 12 prior to 12/1)
Varsity (ages 12-13; must be 12 by 12/1, can’t turn 14 prior to 12/1)

Cheer divisions:
Beginner (ages 6-7; must be 6 by 12/1)
Mini (ages 8-9; must be 8 by 12/1)
JV (ages 10-11; must be 10 by 12/1)
Varsity (ages 12-14; must be 12 by 12/1, can’t turn 15 prior to 12/1)

Football & Cheer Registration fees can be accepted via credit/debit card, check or cash and includes:

- high-quality, annually certified safety equipment
- full game day uniforms
- practice uniforms
- T-shirt & short apparel set
- accident & liability insurance
- Cheerzone competition
- end of season banquet
- participation trophy

**A multi-athlete family discount is available as well as payment plan options. Scholarships are also available for those who apply. 

The Bulldawgs eagerly anticipate the summertime announcement of our 2014 game schedule with locally affiliated NOFA teams in the surrounding areas of Attica, Alexander, Pembroke, Oakfield/Elba, Akron, Alden, Albion, Medina, Roy-Hart and Newfane. 

All contests will take place on Saturdays from late August through October. Every player will get the opportunity to participate in every game, where we never keep track of individual player statistics, only player participation and team records. USA Football certified coaches, using the Heads-Up Football philosophy to reduce the risk of injury, will coach our athletes. In addition, certified coaches will help to train our current grand-champion cheer squads towards continued great success in the 2014 Cheerzone competition.    

Batavia Bulldawgs Football and Cheer is a family-oriented volunteer, nonprofit organization affiliated with the Niagara Orleans Football Association, established in 1999. Since our inception in 2011, we have been committed to providing a high quality youth football program where we are dedicated to the instruction of football, the philosophy of teamwork, the development of sportsmanship and competition in a safe and respectful environment, while promoting personal responsibility and offering participants an opportunity to enjoy all that is best about youth sports.

An informational meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. this Wednesday March 19th in the Batavia Middle School auditorium. Board members and coaches will be available to answer any questions and discuss the upcoming season.

A small number of volunteer football and cheer coaching positions are currently available to interested adults. To learn more about this opportunity, or to answer and questions, please contact John Reigle, league commissioner (716) 228-5787, or bataviabulldawgsfootball@gmail.com.

Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Brian Moran announces his 26th year coaching the Oatkan Knights will be his last

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

Brian Moran, with 194 career wins and 14 sectional titles, announced at Le Roy's annual football banquet Sunday evening that next year, his 26th leading the Oatkan Knights, will be his last as head coach.

"At the end of next year, I'll be 55 and I'll have either coached or played since I was 12," Moran said. "When we hired Brian Herdlein (left in photo), we had a conversation with him as a district about taking over for me. He's been in the program long enough and it just feels like it's time for him to take over the program."

Le Roy will return to the gridiron with a pretty talented team for the 2014 season, which should give Moran a great opportunity to notch his 200th career win, a milestone he said is in fact something he'd like to achieve.

"You think about it when you're young, getting to 200, but when you get here what you think about most are the memories," Moran said. "People don't realize as you get older, those are the things that are important. I've had a lot of great memories with a lot of great coaches and players and the support of our community, which just makes it a privilege to coach here."

Each senior player, such as Brandon Van Grol, above, received a small football helmet on a plaque. In each case, Moran shared a word of praise for each player.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Oakfield-Alabama middle-schoolers compete in 'Turkey Bowl'

post by Howard B. Owens in football, Oakfield, oakfield-alabama, sports

A cold, cold night, the ground frozen, what better conditions could there be for a flag football game among middle-schoolers?

Last night Oakfield-Alabama held its Turkey Bowl. There was no trophy, just a chance for students to a unique football game -- a chance to play under the lights of the varsity football field.

The event was the brainchild of teacher Dan Gilbert and was put together with the help of James Patrick and Katie Hilchey.

"We thought something like this around Thanksgiving might promote the family feeling of a small school," Patrick said.

Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm

After 26 years, 587 wins, 10 sectional titles and one state championship, Tom Nowak honored at retirement party

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

In a room filled with friends, fans and supporters last night, former Elba Lady Lancers Head Coach Tom Nowak was all smiles.

"It's really special," Nowak said. "It's a little bit, I don't know, I want to say the word, 'imposing,' because you want to be in the background as a coach. It's difficult when you come out here and you're the person, but it's really nice to see."

Nowak was honored with a retirement party at the Elba Fire Hall that featured a collection of memorabilia and lots of memories from 26 years of serving the community by teaching young people how to compete and win.

In 1977, after two years at Dundee, Nowak joined Elba Central as a history teacher. He also became the varsity football coach and the varsity girls basketball coach.

His football record over 22 years was 130-60-6 with two sectional titles.

Leading the Lady Lancers, Nowak compiled a 457-132 record, eight sectional titles and, most significantly, a state title in 2012.

"Just that one precious one," Nowak said of the state championship. "It was special. We went in 2000 and lost in the finals. I always thought I'd never get a chance to go back and I got a chance to go back and the girls came through."

Teaching and coaching in Elba was a perfect fit, he said.

"I've always considered myself a shallow person," Nowak said. "I like history and I like sports. I first got to be a history teacher at Elba and then I got a chance to coach, so it really worked out well for me."

It takes time and dedication to be a successful varsity coach in any sport, and that means, Nowak acknowledged, that he maybe wasn't home as much as his wife might have liked over the years.

"We're going to do some things for my wife," said Nowak, who retired from teaching in 2009. "She spent so many years staying home on a Friday night watching Dallas and Falcon's Crest while I was out gallivanting around scouting football games. It will be nice to give her the opportunity to do some of the things that maybe we didn't get to do when I was a coach."

With all those wins and all those titles, surely young coaches could learn something from Nowak, and here's his advice:

"Find a mentor," Nowak said. "Find the people who are successes and spend some time and find out why they're successful.You will see something you can incorporate into your own plan. That's something I did. I looked at some role models because as a young coach you really don't know what to do and that was really beneficial to me."

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