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Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Former Notre Dame runner wins MAAC athlete of the week honors

post by Howard B. Owens in Notre Dame, sports

Press release:

Canisius College’s Jeffrey Antolos was named the MAAC Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Week, while Rider University’s Emily Ritter earned the MAAC Women's Cross Country Runner of the week.

Canisius sophomore Jeffrey Antolos came up huge for the Golden Griffins this weekend, leading the Canisius men’s cross country team to a first place finish in the 35th Annual National Catholic Championships. The event took place on Friday, Sep. 19 at the University of Notre Dame. Antolos was the top finisher for the Blue and Gold, recording a time of 25:07.84 in the five-mile race, good enough for third place in the event. Antolos led the Griffs squad to the team’s only first place victory in the Championships in school history. The highest previous finish for the Griffs was a second place finish in 2002, the closest the team came to winning the Championships until this year. Antolos improved greatly from his 2013 season finish in the National Catholics when the Warsaw, N.Y. finished in 30th with a time of 26:23.

Ritter finished first overall among 171 runners at the Monmouth Invitational, covering the 3.1 mile Holmdel Park course in 18:34.2. It marked the second time in as many race this year that Ritter was the overall winner.

The 2014 MAAC Cross Country Championships will be held on Friday, October 31st at Holmdel Park, Holmdel N.J.

Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 12:34 am

Notre Dame's first win knocks Elba/BB off unbeaten path

post by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, elba, football, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

One team enters the game 2-0, the other is 0-2. Who do you think is going to win?

It's fair to say, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish upset the Elba/Byron-Bergen Lancers on Saturday with a 15-8 win at home.

The Irish struggled in the first two weeks of the season against Oakfield-Alabama and Alexander. It was looking like it might be a long season for Head Coach Rick Mancuso and his squad.

Meanwhile, the Lancers crushed Pembroke and Holley.

But as Elba's Mike Cintorino said after beating Holley last week, when it comes to matches between the Lancers and Notre Dame in any sport, you can throw the win-loss records out the window. These teams grapple no matter what the expectations.

Mancuso downplayed the rivalry after the win, however. A win is a win, and Notre Dame very much needed a win.

"This is more about us coming together as a team and playing the game and getting our first victory," Mancuso said. "That's really what it was about."

Mancuso credited a defense that held Elba/BB to 148 yards total offense, but what made the difference was an offense that showed it could move the ball effectively.

Take away a couple of turnovers and some mental error penalties and the final score might have been more lopsided than a victory just eked out.

The big difference, Mancuso said, was the offensive line.

"We've got a lot of young guys along the line," Mancuso said. "They may be juniors, but they don't have a lot of varsity experience. I really think they're starting to understand it. They're starting to click. They're working really, really hard. We saw it in practice this week. It started coming together. We're happy with where we're at, but we've got a lot of work to do."

Joe Zickl replaced and injured Connor Logsdon at QB and was six for 10 passing for 67 yards and a TD. Josh Johnson caught that TD pass (top photo) to give the Irish the lead in the third quarter.

Peter Daversa rushed for 84 yards and a TD on 15 carries.

Johnson had three receptions for 32 yards. Jack Sutherland carried the ball nine times for 33 yards.

For the Lancers, Garrett Chapell was 11 for 23 passing for 75 yards. Steele Truax rushed for 70 yards and a TD on 16 attempts. Mike Shanley had three catches for 23 yards and John Hochmuth gained 20 yards on three receptions.

Jack Sutherland had 10.5 tackles for Notre Dame. Johnson had six and Casey Midwick had five. 

Hunter Taylor and Truax each had five tackles for the Lancers. Taylor also had a sack.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 12:44 am

Hornets savor win over Notre Dame after years of frustration

NOTE: The information we were given about how long it's been since O-A beat ND was wrong.

It's been nearly 20 years since Oakfield-Alabama beat Notre Dame, and after holding on for a 16-13 win against the Fighting Irish on their home turf, Hornet players celebrated like they had just won a sectional title.

"It feels great," said wide receiver Reice Woodward, a sophomore starting his first game on varsity. "We haven't beaten Notre Dame in a long time and we're starting the streak now."

With seconds left on the clock and Notre Dame in possession of the ball well into O-A territory, a Hornet's victory was far from assured. Then Woodward scooped up a Josh Johnson fumble and Hornet's captain Allen Chatt jumped high in the air, knowing at long last, a win was a cinch.

"With everything my team has been through this pre-season, and my being on the squad since eighth grade and losing to Notre Dame every year, I can't explain it," Chatt said. "It's the best feeling ever."

The first half of the game was all Oakfield-Alabama. The Hornet's defensive line was pushing around the smaller Irish offense seemingly at will. QB Connor Logsdon tasted turf several times. Fans and coaches kept yelling for him to throw the ball away, throw the ball away. After a play where a wall of white jerseys descended on him, the 5' 9" Logsdon yelled that he couldn't see anything over the line.

The Hornets would have ended the half up by four touchdowns instead of just two, except for wide open receivers twice dropping catchable balls.

It was looking like it was going to be a long afternoon -- if not a long season -- for Coach Rick Mancuso and his squad.

Then Logsdon, from deep in Irish territory completed a pass. RB Peter Daversa gained some ground and the Irish got another reception down field.

It was starting to look like a drive, then a short little run that ended in an apparent fumble (ND's coaches insisted the whistle had already blown, but to no avail) was recovered by the Hornets.

Whatever adjustments Mancuso made, they seemed to stick in the second half. Logsdon played with more confidence, feeling less pressure from O-A's defensive line, and Notre Dame showed it could move the ball down field

"We got a little flat right before the half," said O-A's Head Coach Brian Palone. "And Notre Dame did a great job of making adjustments."

Palone said his team has developed a new defense this season, and he expected the defense to struggle and the offense to do well, but the opposite happened he said. It was really the defense that won the game, so he was proud of his team in that regard, and at how hard they worked to protect their lead even as the team struggled in the second half.

"The way we ended the game here shows a lot about their character and never giving up," Palone said. "We had the lead the whole time, but momentum shifted over to Notre Dame the whole second half and I felt like our defense really stepped it up."

Senior linebacker Casey Arnold said the win was a real team effort. 

"The defensive line couldn't have been better," Arnold said. "We played as a team. We flew to the ball. I'm really proud of this team."

Chatt said all along, he's thought this year's Hornet's squad is something special, but nothing is more special than coming out on top against Notre Dame to open the season.

"I have a good feeling about this squad," Chatt said. "They're 27, 28, whatever we have, strong. They come down with the pads, loading the balls on the bus, whatever it is that needs to be done. I'm as proud as I can be about these guys today. Nothing tastes sweeter than to beat Notre Dame."

Chatt was 12 for 31 passing for 166 yards with two TDs and two INTs. Woodward led the receivers with two catches for 66 yards, including a 56-yard TD reception. He had one fumble recovery. Sal Schwabble had one catch for 41 yards. Ryan Emery, two for 30 yards, and Trent Stack, two for 26.

On defense, Jon Harris had one sack and 10 tackles. Schwable had eight tackles and a sack. Jacob Natalizia had two interceptions.

We didn't receive stats for Notre Dame.

UPDATE: Notre Dame stats: Peter Daversa, 18 carries, 76 yards, 1 TD; Jack Sutherland, 15 carries, 37 yards; Joe Zickl, 3 receptions, 27 yards, 1 TD; C.J. Souzzi, three receptions, 26 yards; Zickl, 8.5 tackles; Souzzi, five tackles; Ethan Osborne, sack.

Touchdown, Joe Zickl.

Appearances can be deceiving. Despite a great effort by O-A's Ryan Emery, Casey Midwick did catch this pass for Notre Dame.

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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."

Sunday, June 15, 2014 at 12:14 am

Notre Dame out of sync in state championship semi-final in Binghamton

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

Things really didn't go Notre Dame's way in what turned out to be the baseball team's final game of the season.

Nobody wanted it to end this way, with a 7-1 loss to Smithtown Christian in the Class D semi-final game for the state championship, but Coach Mike Rapone said he told his players to hold their heads high.

"I tried to joke with them that if I told you the first day of practice that, 'you know what, we're going to lose in the state semi's,' I think you might have signed up for it," Rapone said.

Starting pitcher Alec Covel agreed. Clearly pained by the loss, he said he still recognized the Fighting Irish accomplished a lot this year, more than they might have thought possible at the start of the season.

"It's been fun," Covel said, not at all sounding like it has been fun. "I'm going to tell my kids about it someday. It's something to look back to."

Covel clearly had a reason to be disappointed. The ace of the staff, and a big reason Notre Dame made it this far, Covel struggled with his control all afternoon.

He walked the first two batters he faced. Both would score, because of throwing errors, even as Covel recorded all three outs in the inning on Ks.

"I was battling the whole time, pitching from behind and it showed," Covel said.

After the top of the first, Covel went with a coach into the bullpen to throw more.

"I was working on a drill to get over my front side," Covel said. "The mound was flatter than usual and I couldn't get over my front side and I was leaving pitches up."

Catcher Andrew Mullen said he thought Smithtown's hitters did a good job of not letting Covel establish a rhythm.

"The took their time in there, like any good team would," Mullen said. "I think that shook him up and then after that, things really didn't go our way, so he couldn't get comfortable."

Mullen thought Smithtown's starter, Jack Palma, who threw a complete game, threw harder than pitchers Notre Dame has faced recently, but he wasn't unhittable.

In fact, Notre Dame put a lot of balls into play, just not too many of them were hit hard or turned into hits.

"Anything in the infield they would chew up and it was an out for them," Mullen said. "That definitely helped them."

Rapone said Palma wasn't at all overpowering.

"All he threw was a fastball and a change up, but he was keeping us off balance," Rapone said. "We only hit the ball hard but a few times, so you've got to give him credit. Whatever he was doing was working."

Even though Covel walked four, he struck out six and Rapone said he pitched well enough that Smithtown should not have been able to put seven runs on the board.

"If we made some plays behind him, it's a lot closer game," Rapone said. "But they're a good baseball team. They didn't make too many mistakes. They were patient at the plate. They didn't help us out with anything, and we threw the ball around a little bit, misplayed a ball in the outfield we probably should have caught, and that's what happens. When you get to this level, the team that executes better wins. They executed better, so they won."

A team that has been relaxed all year may have found it a little harder to get loose for such a big game, Rapone said.

"I was surprised that, as loose a group as this has been all year, they were a little tight before the game, and then they started playing that way," Rapone said. "I think if we could have gotten out of the first inning, as we probably should have, without giving up anything, maybe we would have relaxed a little bit."

Mullen agreed with Rapone's assessment.

"We were a little nervous coming into this," Mullen said. "It was a lot of pressure on us. We had been really relaxed to this point, but I think being in the final four finally caught up to us. I think a little bit of nerves got to us, and he (Palma) was a good pitcher."

In the final, Smithtown beat Hancock 7-3 to take the state's Class D title.

We'll have a slideshow of more photos available in the morning.

Notre Dame supporters, reminder, it would be a big help with the expense of this coverage if you joined The Batavian Club.

Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Notre Dame drops first-round game in baseball state championship

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

Smithtown Christian celebrated a first-round victory over the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame this afternoon at Broome Community College in Binghamton. Smithtown won 7-1, eliminating Notre Dame from the state championship series.

We'll have a game story and photos later (long drive back to Batavia before I can work on it).

Friday, June 13, 2014 at 9:06 am

Notre Dame rallies for baseball team as it heads off to play for a state championship

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

Notre Dame High School held a rally this morning in support of its baseball team before the team left for Binghamton and a shot at a state championship.

Tomorrow, in a final four match, the Fighting Irish play Smithtown Christian High School. The winner will play either Hancock or Heuvelton Central. The Batavian will bring you full coverage or ND's run at the title. This is only the second time in the school's history that the baseball team has played for a state championship.

Photos submitted by Joseph Scanlan.

Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Notre Dame advances to state champion semi-final behind one-hitter by Covel

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

The lore of the ace is the guy who can take the big game on his shoulders and simply dominate. Once again, Notre Dame's Alec Covel showed he's that kind of guy.

He struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced in today's regional championship game in Jamestown against North Collins. If not for some mental lapses in the 4th -- when the Eagles scored two runs without a hit or even a knock into the outfield -- Covel would have completed the game with a one-hit shutout.

Instead, the Fighting Irish advance to the state championship games at Broome Community College next Saturday with a 9-2 win over the Section VI champs.

"I knew he'd pitch a strong game for us," Head Coach Mike Rapone said. "I didn't know it would be that strong. He was really overpowering.

"He was vintage Covel today, that's for sure," Rapone added. "This is what you expect of a big time player in a big time situation and he came through."

The Eagles looked in over their head against Covel from the start of the game. They couldn't catch up with his fastball, and Covel knew it, and curve after curve caused knees to buckle.

"I was feeling really good (during the first three innings)," Covel said. "Everything was working. They weren't catching them, so I just kept throwing fastballs and blowing it past them."

The fourth inning got a little weird and it became easy to imagine the team that looked so dominate minutes earlier could let things get away from them.

Covel hit the first batter he faced in the 4th. The next hitter drew a walk on four pitches.

Catcher Andrew Mullen tried a pick-off play at first and the ball sailed wide of the bag. First baseman Tyler Stroud snagged the errant throw. The Eagle base runner on second was already half way to third and Stroud tried to make the throw. It skipped past Louis Reynolds and North Collins picked up its first run.

Rapone thought Stroud should have just eaten the ball and let the runner advance.

The second run came on a throwing error by Reynolds (Reynolds did not make the throw) off a grounder from the next North Collins hitter.

"Alec's going to get you out of it," Rapone said. "Instead we threw the ball around and allowed those two guys to score."

With the threat of the wheels coming off and North Collins putting together a big inning, Rapone gathered his team on the mound.

"These guys don't get down, but I was afraid they would get a little rattled," said Rapone, who has more than 600 wins as a basketball coach. "It's a little like a timeout in basketball after the other team goes on a little run. You take a timeout and say 'hey, boys, slow down. We've got this. Relax. Take a deep breath.' "

The team got the message and Mullen ended the inning -- a bit of poetic justice -- with a pick-off at first.

Mullen -- who nearly came out of his shoes trying to hit the ball all the way back to Batavia on his first two swings in his next at bat -- would also help tie the game with a bases loaded single, giving Notre Dame a lead, at 4-2, it wouldn't relinquish.

The Irish were confident they could hit the North Collins starter, who had little velocity. His big side-arm curve was easy to pick up and dropped across the plate in a consistent groove. They hit him hard in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before driving him from the game.

Cal Tygart sparked the Irish offense, leading off in three separate innings and scoring all three times. He was 3-5.

"Cal's been strong for us all year long," Rapone said. "He kind of gets lost in the shuffle with the other guys that we have, but he's really done well for us."

Tygart said it was all about having fun and backing the ace.

"We just needed to give Covel the room he needed to work," Tygart said. "He was pitching really well so we needed to come out and give it our all and give him the room to work with."

Covel finished with 11 strikeouts and only one hit allowed.

The most unusual stat of the game was the eight hit batters on the Notre Dame side. Stroud was hit four times.

Notre Dame's state semi-final championship game will be against Smithtown Christian, from Long Island. The winner of the 10 a.m. game Saturday will advance to the final at 4 p.m. in Binghampton.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 8:06 am

Notre Dame downs Whitesville 14-3 to advance to Far West Regional Championship

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

A favorable post-season schedule and a duo of dominant pitchers have certainly helped Notre Dame make a championship run, Coach Mike Rapone said after the Fighting Irish beat Whitesville in a Class D consolidation game 14-3.

In years past, by this time Section V and Section VI would already have played their regional championship game, but for Notre Dame, that game won't come until Saturday in Jamestown.

The spread schedule has allowed Rapone's pair of aces -- Alec Covel and Tyler Stroud -- to get plenty of rest between starts.

"They've been dominate all year," Rapone said. "Teams are hitting .100 or less against both of them. Covel's ERA is under one and Tyler's is a little over. You come to expect, I mean, I hate to say it, but you come to expect that you're going to get a well-pitched game. You just hope our defense and hitting keeps up."

Stroud took the mound in Dansville yesterday and gave a command performance through five innings. He struck out seven through five and didn't give up a hit until the fifth, when a Whitesville runner reached base on a close call at first.

"Really, I try not to think about it (the no-hitter), but it's there a little bit," Stroud said. "It's in the back of your head, so of course when I give it up, it's like, ah."

That squib of a hit put two runners on (Stroud had hit the prior batter).

Whitesville's first solid knock would come two batters later when their hitting machine, Cole Tracy, would lace a line drive to right field.

Stroud surrendered two runs in the fifth.

It helped, Stroud said, to have his offense jump to an early lead. The Irish scored a run in the first and then six in the second. 

Covel lead the offense with four hits and three RBIs. Andrew Mullen added two hits and knocked in three runs. Jarrod Wall also had two hits.

Mullen, the team's catcher, now hits clean-up for the Fighting Irish and over the course of the season has become an offensive force. He's playing more relaxed, he said, which has improved his approach at the plate.

"I've realized finally now, it's just a game," Mullen said. "It's fun. After this, it's probably over for me playing baseball, so it's fun to be with the team for three years now and it's all fun from here."

Notre Dame doesn't know yet who its opponent will be Saturday in Jamestown, but Rapone said he's confident the team is ready for the challenge.

"We've played good all year," Rapone said. "We've lost 3-2, 6-4 and 2-0, so we've been in every ball game. You just hope to continue to keep playing and see what happens."

For Notre Dame, all of the seniors are now high school graduates. That means no more classes, no more regular routine, the potential to lose focus.

"That's something you worry about," Rapone said. "It's not the same routine. They used to get up, go to school, then go to practice or a game. Now they're home. Who knows what time they're getting up. Some of them have jobs, so they're already working. That's always a concern this time of year."

How do you keep them focused?

"I just tell them to get up," Rapone said. "Get out of bed. But I'm not there to make sure they do it."

Mullen said that as a graduate, you know this is the last hurrah and that's what keeps you on task.

"It's a little scary to see how fast it flew by, so that's one thing that keeps you focused," Mullen said. "You realize the end is near, so just getting up every day and doing the normal routine, not sleeping in until 3 o'clock, and going straight to the game."

This is a team, Mullen said, that will get the job done.

"We're pretty relaxed," Mullen said. "The team camaraderie is pretty good. We can mess around together. We can get serious together. We always keep each other on task or focused and when it comes to game time, we have all the same goal in mind."

Whitesville's first hit. Ruled safe at first.

As white fluffies fell on the field, Stroud was lifted in the sixth after giving up two hits. Stroud was having a little bit of hip pain, which affected his control and velocity. Even so, Stroud was unhappy about coming out of the game. "I don't like to watch," Stroud said. "I like to be out there."

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Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 8:49 am

Photos: Notre Dame HS graduation

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, education, Notre Dame, schools

Notre Dame High School held its graduation service Saturday evening outside on the north side of the campus. Bishop Richard Malone spoke at the commencement ceremony.

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