WNY H.S. Football Roundup: Week 1
Recor steps in to lead injury-hampered Timon over South
By Michael Straw
It’s never easy replacing a key player.
The roster gets thinner, the lineup changes more often than usual, and players are given bigger workloads, but when the time comes to do so, it’s the next player up. Bishop Timon-St. Jude senior running back JD Recor is trying to take full advantage of his opportunity to be the guy.
Recor has been given the dubious task of replacing top returning running back, junior Adam Dimillo, who is out for a few weeks as he recovers from a broken arm.
Recor helped his case to prove that he is capable of leading the offense with a stellar performance in the Tigers’ season-opening 21-14 win at Williamsville South. Timon head coach Charlie Comerford was not surprised that Recor was able to handle this task.
“We expected JD to do well,” said Comerford. “He’s a great running back, great athlete.”
On the first play from scrimmage, Recor took a handoff 64 yards to the endzone to set the tone for the rest of the game for the Tigers. He finished with 173 yards on 16 rushes and a touchdown, leading his team to a 21-14 victory over the Billies.
“I wanted to prove to coach that I could be relied on, and carry the load,” said Recor, who credited his offensive line for his opening-week success. “I owe it all to my line,” he said. “If it wasn’t for them, I don’t have the game I did.”
Recor helped Timon dominate the first half and go into the break leading 21-0. The Tigers also scored on a 24-yard touchdown by senior fullback Jackson Brown and a 10-yard touchdown toss from senior quarterback Ryan Dougherty to classmate Lewis Vacarro.
Later, Recor did break another long run for 74 yards that would’ve been another Timon touchdown, but it was called back due to a holding penalty.
“I didn’t expect any of this,” he continued. “I used this chance as motivation, and right now, there is no better feeling, but it puts more pressure on (me) to perform.”
The road doesn’t get any easier for the Tigers as they play powerhouses Steubenville High School in Ohio, and Aquinas in Rochester, while attempting to overcome injuries to Dougherty and standout receiver Bryant Fulton. Recor will continue to be counted on for his offensive production.
“I did what I needed to in one game against a tough opponent” said Recor. “Now, I just have to keep it up against even tougher competition.
Lancaster pulls out Dickson’s coaching debut
By Mike Pidanick
As Chris Dickson walked toward the locker room at Foyle-Kling Stadium following his first victory as the varsity head football coach at Lancaster High School, he was greeted by one of his new biggest fans.
“Twelve more to go,” retired coach Len Jankiewicz exclaimed to his former assistant before a congratulatory hug.
The 12 more wins -- which would mean a state championship -- would be terrific, but after a nail-biting opener, the Redskins were just glad to get the first one in the books. Lancaster rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to get past Niagara Falls, 16-10.
“We had to get this win in Mr. Dickson’s first game,” junior receiver Dan Corbi said. “It’s always nice to get the first one out of the way, that’s the most important one.”
It wasn’t easy, but the Redskins bounced back from an error-prone first half by scoring 16 unanswered second-half points for the win.
Connor Asposto scored the game-winning touchdown with 2:14 to play as he went 18 yards on a counter run for the score. Mitch Fuller scored on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Colafranceschi and Alex Juhasz added a 19-yard field goal in the decisive second half.
Some critical mistakes led to the halftime deficit for the Redskins. Both of Niagara Falls’ first-half scores came in possessions that started inside the Lancaster 35-yard line.
But the Redskins kept their composure and bounced right back in the second half.
“They believed and they did what they had to do,” Dickson said. “I told them (at halftime), ‘We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re going to be aggressive and this thing will get turned around.’”
The Redskins turned the ball over twice, the biggest coming in the final two minutes of the second quarter. On a second and goal inside the 1-yard line, Colafranceschi was stripped by the Wolverines’ Daqurie Simmons, who raced 72 yards the other way. Four plays later, Niagara Falls got its touchdown as Rickey Bailey hit Amir Myles for the 7-yard scoring strike.
“We protected the ball better in the second half, that was the difference,” Dickson said. “We felt the turnovers really helped them get those 10 points and we can’t be doing that. If we want to be a better football team, we have to protect the ball.”
Colafranceschi was unfazed by that fumble as he bounced right back with a big second half, leading the Redskins on three scoring drives. He finished his first varsity start at 10 of 18 passing for 156 yards and a touchdown.
During a stellar defensive effort, Lancaster forced a pair of turnovers and held the Wolverines to just 102 yards of total offense.
“Overall, I’m very pleased with the defense,” Dickson said. “Coach (Brandon) Benham did a nice job with those boys in training camp getting them ready for Week 1.”
W.S. West ends league winless streak
By Mike Petro
West Seneca West’s performance to open the 2012 season garnered it a Class AA South win four years in the making.
Led by a senior-laden group that has watched as and taken its own lumps with the program over the past three seasons, West captured its first league win in four years by soundly beating Frontier 28-12 at home on Aug. 31.
Admittedly feeling behind the eight ball in a division also featuring state champion Orchard Park, along with Western New York powers Clarence, Lancaster and Jamestown, Indians head coach Joe Cantafio couldn’t have been more proud of his players not only for the win but the hard work that led up to it.
“This is the toughest division in WNY,” said Cantafio, whose team began to show signs of turning it around last year with three non-league wins. “This group has taken its lumps and still believed in what we’ve been doing. We had to have a bunch of guys move up to varsity, and they had to play unselfishly and be patient as we put in each phase or our offense and defense.”
Cantafio felt especially good for his group of 24 seniors.
“This senior class is a group of guys that when they were coming up as eighth and ninth graders, I knew they were special,” he noted. “It’s one thing if they had success right from the start but they paid the price and never forgot what we were trying to do. We have a ton of respect for Frontier and we were able to take them.”
West made its statement early with a long opening drive after pinning Frontier deep in its own territory and then using an explosive long run to help take a 14-0 lead. Quick and shifty senior Devin Reynolds led that effort, scoring the team’s first two touchdowns and finishing with 113 yards, 87 of those came in the first half.
When he left the game after hobbling off with a leg injury, juniors Chris Walker and Peter Walsh stepped up in his absence, finishing with 124 and 108 yards, respectively. Each added a second half touchdown on the ground.
The play of Frontier elicited a different reaction from a head coach as Tim Myslinski was disappointed after coming into the game confident off a good preseason camp. Though his team is underclassmen-laden, the third-year head of the Falcons program did not want to use that as an excuse for its slow start and some undisciplined play.
Frontier started the game with a misconduct while receiving the opening kickoff and then proceeded to jump offsides the next play pinning the team way back in its own territory. The Falcons wouldn’t earn a first down until midway through the second quarter on their fifth drive of the game.
“(Our early mistakes) kind of set the tone for the first half,” Myslinski said. “(West) is an excellent coached team. Our effort was there but I’m embarrassed by the execution. Coming off a crisp camp, to be as bad as we were was disappointing. We had too many miscues. I’m not really pleased with our team or my coaching staff and that includes me.”
After West opened the second half with a five-play drive capped by a 32-yard touchdown run from Walsh to extend its lead to 21-0, Frontier drove down the field for a score later in the third quarter using a hurry-up, two-minute offense. Junior Kenny Kahler capped that drive with a 12-yard touchdown on the ground, running over a would-be tackler on his way to pay dirt. Kahler led Frontier with 68 yards rushing on 14 carries.
West answered on the ensuing drive with an 11-yard touchdown run from Walker with 10:27 left in the game. Senior quarterback Ben Koch hit tight end and classmate Bernie Cuthbert for a 23-yard touchdown pass with a few minutes remaining in the game to make the score more respectable for Frontier. Koch finished 12 for 22 for 146 yards.
“You can’t wait until your fourth or fifth drive to start to move the ball,” Myslinski said. “We could sit here and say that we’re young but when you get on the football field, it’s the great equalizer. When you put the helmet on, it doesn’t matter how old you are. If you execute, age doesn’t matter. We didn’t execute tonight and they did.”
Senior John Lobdell threw the ball only once, a six-yard completion, as West controlled the line of scrimmage for much of the game on its way to 350 yards on the ground running behind a line with four returning starters.
“I will always love and respect these guys but people in the stands and people in the halls of school can be tough on them, but they never stopped believing and we got our first league win in a very long team, against a good Frontier team,” Cantafio said.
State champ O.P. escapes Lockport with win
By David Gaygen
Despite a 41-21 loss, the Lockport Lions have a lot to build off from their 2012 season opener against the defending state champion Orchard Park Quakers on Saturday, Sept. 1 in front of a good crowd at Max D. Lederer Field in Lockport.
Lockport held the lead late in the second quarter at 14-13 as James Chambers ran for consecutive long touchdowns of 55 and 65 yards. Orchard Park regained the lead,21-14, going into halftime.
Toward the end of the third quarter, the Lions, still fighting hard, gained 62 yards during a 10-play scoring drive, capped by Moziah Townsend’s one-yard run into the end zone for a touchdown to bring Lockport to within 28-21. However, the Quakers finished the game with a 14-0 fourth quarter.
Orchard Park senior quarterback Ben Holmes threw for two touchdowns, while classmates Mitch Wilson and Jett Modkins each ran for two touchdowns
Chambers totaled 180 yards on 15 rushes during an impressive performance from the senior. Lockport wide receiver R.D. Hillman, caught five balls for 61 yards. On defense, Lockport senior Tom Furlong added two sacks. Lockport’s junior quarterback Dan Bronson completed 6 out of 9 passes.
South Park and Hamburg
By Mike Petro
It took the first game of his fifth season as South Park head coach for Tim Delaney to see his group give its best all-around team effort yet.
South Park got contributions from a plethora of players in coming back from a halftime deficit to beat Hamburg 18-6 as the 2012 season kicked off Aug. 31 on a hot and windy day at Riverside High School’s Charles Dingboom Field.
The Sparks picked off four passes, forced Hamburg to turn the ball over on downs twice in the red zone, received a punt return touchdown and not surprisingly, got a passing and rushing score from standout junior quarterback Maurcie Howie. Trailing 6-0 at the break, South Park scored all of its points in the second half, most of its offense coming with a whipping wind at its back in the third quarter.
“That’s what we’ve been talking about and preaching about, looking to that next guy to make a play,” Delaney said. “Obviously Maurice made a lot of big plays but so did a lot of other guys. We made some great plays today and I’ve got no complaints.”
Howie was held somewhat in check, but was able to throw a five-yard touchdown to Edgardo Berrios on the Sparks first drive of the second half, then up 12-6, outran the Hamburg defense to the sideline and stretched the ball over the plain of the end zone for a five-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal with 10:56 left in the game.
“In the first half, the defense held it down (and allowed) us to get the offense going and hold it down in the second half,” said Howie, who’s in his third-year starting at quarterback. “The blocking was good and let me make some big plays and run around the end on the touchdown.”
What may have been the biggest play of the game came on a punt return with the score tied 6-6. Tyrell Mitchell made a heads-up play, picking up a bouncing ball on a short punt into the wind and taking it down the right sideline 22 yards for a score.
“A back breaker right off the bat was that punt return,” Hamburg head coach Mike McFadden said. “When the ball hits the ground, sits up in the air and comes down and we don’t grab it, and then they go the other way for a touchdown, that’s a huge swing there.”
Hamburg had struck first in the game as first-year senior starter Lucas Kramer did his best Tim Tebow impression with a two-yard jump pass to Brett Schuman to cap an 11-play drive with four minutes left in the first half.
Laron Watkins helped open up the South Park offense after a dominant first half from the Hamburg defense. The junior tailback ran for 61 second half yards, including ripping off a chunk of 46 on the Sparks first offensive play in the third quarter.
Delaney said he made some alterations to the game plan at the half, with the wind making it difficult on Howie to throw the ball. With the wind at their back in third quarter, the Sparks found some holes in the Hamburg defense, while taking over control the field position. He credited new defensive coordinator Nick Tedaro for his game plan, as well.
“The wind disrupted what we were doing but we fought through it,” Delaney said. “We definitely made the proper adjustments and our defense bailed us out and played great all day. The kids really worked until the end, something we really haven’t had in the last few years. We really finished well today and I hope that carries on through the rest of the year.”
Howie and Mitchell, along with Tyler Sturges and Mike DeGrefenre, all had interceptions, which came on Hamburg’s final four drives of the second half. DeGrefenre, who added 12 tackles, made his pick to end a 10-play Hamburg drive with just over six minutes to play in the game.
“Last year, we had a lot of playmakers, too, but this year, they’re even better,” said Howie, who’s racked up more than 2,500 all-purpose yards in his first two seasons of varsity.
Hamburg drove the ball to the South Park 10 or better five times but had only one score to show for it. Kramer and senior backs Austin Bishop and Evan Smith all broke off multiple long runs to help Hamburg sustain a number of drives. Josh Bennett and Schuman each recorded a sack for the Bulldogs.
“We turned the ball over and we had the wind at our face – it played a pretty big part today, but we still need to play football,” McFadden said. “We were moving the ball offensively but we weren’t capitalizing. We’ve got to learn to capitalize as a group.”
“Our first half defense played very strong and stout and then I think we got a little comfortable being up,” he added. “We can’t afford to be comfortable in a six-point game. In the second half they found a few holes on us. We didn’t play with the same enthusiasm as we did in the first half. This team has got to get that emotion and spark flying.”
Mcilwain’s ‘D’ helps Cleve Hill over rival Maryvale
By Marquel Slaughter
The 2012 season kicked off with the meeting of a pair of Cheektowaga teams that felt they underachieved last season and wanted nothing less than to open the 2012 season with a win.
After both teams combined for 44 first half points, the Golden Eagles’ defense held up the last 20 minutes to defeat Maryvale for the fifth season in row, 34-16, at the Flyers’ home field.
“We were a little sloppier in some places than we would like,” said Graham. “In general, even though there were some things we can correct, I love how our guys competed.”
Cleve Hill’s margin of victory came as the result of the performance of Steve Mcilwain on the defensive side of the ball. Not only did their defense keep the Flyer’s grounded at two touchdowns for the night, but they managed to reach the endzone twice themselves, both on Mcilwain fumble recovery returns.
“Steve and Sharieff Fareed-Muhammad are two guys who are a little undersized at the defensive end, but their athleticism will help them,” said Graham. “They’re both the kind of kids who are going to make plays. If they find a loose ball and get a hold of it, they’ll be tough to catch when it bounces right into their laps.”
The Flyers found that out the hard way.
While Fareed-Muhammad recorded 1.5 sacks, Mcilwain took two fumbles to the endzone after two of the team’s six sacks. His scores stretched the lead to 16 points in a bout that they would win by 18.
“All I tried to do was stay in my lane,” said the junior defensive end. “And when the ball was out I was like ‘I have to get it. It’s wide open.’ So I picked it up and there I was.”
Mcilwain has put in multiple hours to get the chance to start during his junior campaign.
“I’ve been trying to work out a lot and do what I had to do to get at this level,” said Mcilwain. “Playing varsity has always been a dream for me. I always wanted to have a starting position. I knew I had to work hard at it. I’m just glad I got here.”
“Steve is very coachable,” said Graham. “It was great to see him have that early success. We’ve taken him from a junior varsity linebacker to a varsity defensive end. He’s big and athletic enough to help us there.”
The first of Mcilwain’s two fumble recoveries came on Maryvale’s opening drive. The second came just 10 seconds later on the ensuing kickoff.
“It was bouncing really crazy,” said Mcilwain. “I was thinking about jumping on it, but at the last second I was like ‘Nah. I have to take this, man.’ That was a blessing right there (on the second fumble). The ball was out for the second time, and it was in my lane again. All I had to do was run.”
After falling behind early, Maryvale quarterback Mike Wawrzyniak went to work. On the Flyers’ second possession, Wawrzyniak bounced to the sideline and led a 73-yard footrace to the endzone.
After connecting with Tyler Graham for two points following the opening score, Wawrzyniak found Javon Wise for six and called his own number for two to tie the game at 16 in the first quarter.
Wawrzyniak eventually left the game in the second quarter. According to head coach Jeff Buccieri, he was sick all week and suffered from dehydration and irregular oxygen levels.
Cleve Hill’s offense got it going in the second. Jacob Radlich tossed a touchdown to Jared Watkins and Brandon Thomas punched one in on the ground. Thomas led all rushers with 157 yards.
Jonathan Thomas added 112 more yards on the ground, tallying the final points on a 45-yard spurt up the gut in the third quarter.
“I just reminded them that this was a rivalry game and Maryvale wasn’t going to go away,” said Graham. “They were out there to compete and we had better match or exceed their tempo or we were going to be in trouble.
Read online weekly game recaps all season long at the Source for Scholastic Sports