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November 18, 2015 - 9:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, arts, entertainment, Talent Show, batavia.


Cameron Bontrager performs "Sweet Child of Mine" during the 2015 Batavia HS talent show Tuesday night in the school's auditorium.


Tzyonah Scheffield-Reese performs "Photograph."


Madison Hoerbelt and Eryn Dunn perform "For Good."


Ross Chua and Chelsea Jensen perform "I'm Yours."


Hannah Bluhm performs "Dear Future Husband."

November 17, 2015 - 12:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, Talent Show, arts, entertainment, batavia.


Batavia High School hosts its annual faculty and student talent show tonight in the auditorium starting at 7 o'clock.

Pictured during yesterday's rehearsal are Tzyonah Sheffield-Reese (top) and Kesa Janes.



November 15, 2015 - 10:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, football, sports.


Cheektowaga's athletic playmakers and Batavia's inability to convert a couple of scoring opportunities in the first half were the big difference in the Blue Devils' second consecutive try at a Far West Regional Championship.

A win would have propelled Batavia into the state championship Class B semifinal. Instead, as happened last year, the team traveling to Syracuse is the Warriors.

Batavia led from the opening drive until nine minutes left in the game, when Cheektowaga tied it up at 36-36. When Batavia couldn't sustain a drive on the following possession, the Warriors moved the ball downfield effectively and scored on a four-yard by Tyr Willingalea with 1:36 left on the clock. A turnover with less than 20 seconds left in the game, and the score 43-36 gave Cheektowaga the championship.

"They played so well and they've been such tough kids," said Head Coach Brennan Briggs. "My heart breaks for them. I mean, right now, my heart's broken, really. These guys, I love them. We've got 18 seniors and it's going to be very tough saying goodbye to them."

Briggs felt coming into the game his team would be able to run on the Warriors and Dom Mogavero put together a great game. He rushed for 125 yards on 33 carries. He carried the ball in twice and scored another touchdown on defense with a fumble recovery. QB Greg Mruczek had four carries for 76 yards, including a long of 61 yards. Ray Leach carried the ball six times for 29 yards, and Jonathan Barber had two carries for 19 yards and a TD.

Mruczek was 7-20 passing, including two interceptions. 

Ryan Hogan caught four of those passes for 108 yards, including a long of 58 yards. 

Batavia scored easily on its first drive and scored again less than a minute later on an Adonis Davis interception, making the score 14-0. Cheektowaga struck back quickly on its next position, but from then on until the fourth quarter, Batavia always managed to keep the game out of reach of the Warriors. Or, the Warriors used their athletic weapons to keep the Blue Devils in reach.

Cheektowaga had the last three scores of the game, a 27-yard run by Willingelea that put the Warriors within eight, a five-yard run by Eric Bartnik and a two-point conversion that tied the score, and then the final TD that sealed Batavia's fate.

"They're an athletic team," Briggs said. "They've been known for it all year. They've been down and they've come back. Even when we were up two scores, I said it to my guys, 'They are the comeback kids. They did it last year and they did it this year. They're a good football team.' "



Leach picking up a fumble that set up a Batavia TD.



Terren Lorrie was defensive player of the game.








To purchase prints of game photos, click here.

November 8, 2015 - 11:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, batavia, Batavia HS.


The watchword for the Batavia Blue Devils this football season has been relentless. Coach Brennan Briggs has it stenciled on the back of his game day windbreaker. But there's another word that can apply to the 2015 edition of the team: dominating.

Over the past six games, no opponent has been able to finish a game within three touchdowns of the Blue Devils. Whether on the ground or through the air, the Batavia offense has scorched every defense they've faced and the defense has been, well, relentless.

The Blue Devils started the year ranked #1 in a coaches' poll, but Briggs wouldn't discuss on the record how much confidence he had in his team. After today's win over Livonia by a score of 52-20 for the team's second straight Class B Section V title, Briggs admitted he believed this team was that good all along.

"It's what I expected," Briggs said. "I downplayed it all year because there was a lot of hype. I don't like the high expectations. I just like to out there and get the job done. The kids have answered the bell every single week."

Briggs (top photo with the trophy) is in his fourth season as head coach and he becomes the first head coach in school history with back-to-back sectional titles in football to his credit.

A lot of credit for today's win goes to the ground game led by Dom Mogavero and Ray Leach, and senior QB Greg Mruczek's performance was certainly title worthy, but what it really comes down to, the players say, is the play of the offensive and defensive lines.

"They've been incredible all season for us," said Mruczek, who was 9-11 passing for 158 yards and two TDs. "They work hard every single day at practice. They work hard. The trenches are where football games are won and I think people overlook that sometimes."

Mogavero put together another stellar performance, rushing for 177 yards on 14 carries, scoring twice, and he gave all the credit to the linemen.

"Those guys work hard in the trenches," Mogavero said. "They played their tails off."

Danny Williams, who has been a team leader on defense all season and had eight tackles today, said it's an amazing feeling to be part of a winning team that works so hard together.

"We're such a family," Williams said. "I've never been on team that's got my back more than this team does. However I play, they've got my back. If I mess up, there's somebody right there to make the tackle. If I don't mess up, I make the tackle or they make the tackle. It's so easy to get down, but they just help me pick up. It's great."

Batavia came ready to play a tough, physical game, Briggs said.

"The nice thing is, they're (Livonia) a smashmouth team and we wanted to show that 'hey, we can beat people up in the trenches and we can do a great job,' " Briggs said. "Our kids just played relentless football all day long. They wanted it and nobody was going to take it from them."

Trevor Sherwood had three catches for 32 yards and a TD, Malachi Chenault had two grabs for 15 yards and Anthony Gallo scored on a 60-yard TD reception, which was the second play of the game and set the tone for the day.

"It was definitely huge," Mogavero said. "It definitely gave us a little kickstart."

That well-balanced game is part of what makes Batavia hard to beat, Briggs said.

"We have athletes all over the field and we also have tough guys in the trenches, and if we want to run the ball we can run it," Briggs said. "If we want to throw it, we can throw it. A lot of it comes down to what we're seeing, what we think we can do and what we can do to open other things up. Our line, our receivers and our running backs -- all of them together just make a great football team."

Next week, we get to find out if Batavia is indeed that good. They will play Cheektowaga for the Far West Regional Championship, a stepping-stone to a shot at a state championship game. The Blue Devils went into last season's regional with high expectations, only to bump into the reality of the Warriors, losing 35-18. The 2015 edition of the Warriors are 12-0 and have as many dominating wins as Batavia.

They players are eager to go against the Warriors, they said, with some thoughts of avenging last year's loss and some just out to prove they deserve the victory.

"We're going to want some revenge, but we've got play hard just like we played today and then we'll see what that score, what that outcome, is," Williams said.

Mruczek is excited at the prospect of matching up with Cheektowaga again.

That's definitely going to be a fun game," Mruczek said. "We're all looking forward to the opportunity to play them again for sure."

Asked if the team was looking for a chance for revenge, Mogavero wouldn't go there, not quite.

"We're definitely grateful for the opportunity to play them again this year," Mogavero said.

Briggs downplayed any talk of revenge, even after saying, "we feel like we owe it to them."

"They're a great football team," Briggs said. "We're going to have to come prepared and I know they're going to come prepared."

Game time for the regional is 1 p.m., Sunday, at Sahlen's Stadium.



Anthony Gallo made a 60-yard TD reception on the second play of the game, and after that, there was no more looking back for the Blue Devils.


Dom Mogavero scores on a two-point conversion after Gallo's TD reception.


Ray Leach on the carry.


Ray Leach headed for the end zone.








To purchase prints of game photos by Howard Owens, click here.

Slide show of photos by Howard Owens:

Slide show of photos by Jim Burns:

November 1, 2015 - 7:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, football, sports, Batavia HS.


The way Greg Mruczek sees it, the challenge Hornell gave Batavia in the first quarter of Saturday's sectional semi-final for Class B gives a Blue Devils team that has faced little adversity all season long a taste of how tough advancing in the post season will get.

Mruczek and his teammates adjusted and ended up smashing the Red Raiders 43-7.

Four second-quarter touchdown passes from Mruczek sealed the deal. He hit Anthony Gallo on a 16-yard route, Ray Leach on 46 yards, Ryan Hogan on 24 yards and Malachi Chenault on 41 yards.

"We had to pick up some blitzes in that first quarter," Mruczek said. "We definately had some adversity, but we definately fought through the adversity. We definately got a feel for playing in a close game and that's definately going to happen in the finals."

In the finals, Batavia will face Livonia, and while that's a 6-3 team (compared to Batavia's 9-0 record), they scored 70 points yesterday against Penn Yan, who ran up 60 points.

The diversity of receivers Mruczek called upon for those four second-quarter TDs demonstrates the array of weapons any defense must try to counter when playing Batavia, and the ability to strike quickly from anywhere on the field gives the team a lot of confidence, said Dom Mogavero.

"We a dynamic team," Mogavero said. "Every single person on this team can play football, the twos, the threes, everyone on the depth chart can play football and we all know we're really talented atheletes.

"We stick together as a family. The only stat that matters to us is wins and losses."

Mruczek was coming off a stretch over two games where he was 19-20 passing, including a 10-10 performance last week, with his only prior missed pass a throwaway under pressure two weeks ago. Those blitzes of Hornel had Mruczek a little off balance in the first quarter and he gave up a rare interception.

Still, he went on for a 12 for 25 performance for 303 yards and four TDs.

Batavia's other two touchdowns came on runs of 56 yards by Leach and 47 yards by Caleb Burdett.

 Mogavero had 77 yards on seven carries and Ray Leach rushed for 79 yards on five carries for the Blue Devils.

Gallo caught four passes for 126 yards.

In additional to his TD reception, Hogan had two interceptions. His steller performance came less than a week after his father's death.

"He's a gamer," Mruczek said. "He's got a lot of heart. I love that kid. He works hard every day."

Malachi Chenault said the team was there for Hogan throughout the week.

"He's a tough player," Chenault said. "We knew his situation and we just tried holding him up as much as we can and be as supportive as possible, that's all."

Defensively, Danny Williams had 10 tackles (two for loss) and Trent McGraw had eight tackles (two for loss) for the Blue Devils.

Top photo: Leach celebrates his second quater TD, which came off a tipped pass (second photo).



Hogan with one of this two interceptions.


Gallo with a TD reception.


Leach on a run play.




Leach on defense.


Gallo with a reception.


Mruczek with a second quarter pass


Williams buries Hornell's Trenton Smith.

To purchase prints of photos by Howard Owens, click here.

Jim Burns was also at the game and took photos:

October 24, 2015 - 7:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, Batavia HS, batavia.


Jim Nigro remembers well the night the Batavia Blue Devils scored 63 points. In was 1962 and he was a freshman on the squad that squared off against a team from the Syracuse area. The fans came into town with banners and shouting about beating the farmers, and the Blue Devils buried them 63-20.

The 2015 Blue Devils came two points shy Friday night of tying that school record in a 61-0 victory over Midlakes in the first round of the Section V Class B playoffs.

Batavia advances to the semi-finals against Hornell at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, at Cal-Mum.

QB Greg Mruczek was a perfect 10 for 10 passing for 144 yards and three touchdowns.  Dominick Mogavero ran for 79 yards and two TDs on four carries. Ryan Hogan had three TD receptions, gaining 60 yards. Malachi Chenault caught four passes for 44 yards.  Ray Leach gained 97 yards, returning two punts for touchdowns. John Garlock and Cody Dioguardi each scored. Terren Lovria and Leach had seven tackles, Mogavero six and Trenton McGraw, six with two sacks.








To purchase prints of photos, click here.

October 21, 2015 - 1:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in @ct Coalition, Bataiva, Batavia HS.


Article by Serena Strollo-DiCenso, BHS Junior and member of @ct Genesee.
Photo by Howard Owens of: Anita Strollo, Scott Wilson, Kevin Keenan, Sandy Martin and Jen Zambito.

When Federal Drug Free Communities Support Program funding ended after 10 years, the committed individuals from the Genesee Drug Free Communities Coalition continued to meet on a regular basis to determine the scope of their work. Renamed @ct Genesee Coalition, their vision is simple; they want to keep Genesee County, its youth and its families healthy, safe and substance free. 

Working closely with the WNY Prevention Resource Center, this coalition is basing their coalition development on the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF), a proven model that helps coalitions choose data-driven actions that result in sustainable change. @ct Coalition members understand that local problems require local solutions.

“We recently developed a community survey to help understand Genesee County’s needs and concerns regarding substance use and abuse," said @ct Genesee Coalition President Anita Strollo. "Following this framework will not only help our process, but will ensure outcomes, and put us on track for future grant funding.

"The SPF comes down from the federal and state levels and it’s what they look for when assessing which coalitions are doing the right things for their communities. Those are the communities that are considered for money. Money is pretty important."

The coalition meets regularly at Batavia High School at the invitation of Scott Wilson, @ct Genesee vice president and Batavia High School principal. @ct Genesee is seeking new members who are like minded and who will pick up the mantle and join their efforts.

“We are always looking for new members with fresh ideas," Wilson said, "whether you want to attend meetings or run fundraisers, everyone has something to contribute.” 

The community survey will be distributed shortly and the coalition can use the information gained to focus their energies toward what will best suit Genesee County.

“What the community needs to know is that we are here and we care,” says Strollo. 

The next meeting of @ct Genesee Coalition is at noon at Batavia High School on Nov. 17. The meetings usually run one hour. For more information, please contact Anita at (585) 813-5371 or e-mail [email protected].

October 17, 2015 - 8:28am
posted by Steve Ognibene in Batavia HS, sports, football.


A cold steady rain for three quarters of last night's football game did not effect the undefeated Batavia Blue Devils as they took control before halftime and finished with a 42-16 win over the home team Geneva Trojans.

Batavia battled a tough first quarter but came up leading 14-8 on a key play by freshman Ray Leach pictured above.


Dominic Mogavero scored on this handoff from senior quarterback Greg Mruczek.

Ryan Hogan caught a long pass from Mruczek where he scored a touchdown to make it 28-8 at halftime.


In the third quarter, both Batavia and Geneva added touchdowns within minutes of each other. However Batavia scored again late in the third quarter that eventually was the final 42-16.

Batavia finishes the season with a perfect 7-0 record and will play home this Friday at Vandetta Stadium at 7 p.m. versus Midlakes or Pal-Mac pending the results of today's games.


October 15, 2015 - 9:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, Bullying.


Tom Murphy, a professional MMA fighter and an Ultimate Fighting Champion, brought his anti-bullying presention, Sweethearts and Heroes, to Batavia High School on Wednesday afternoon. Murphy's program is aimed at giving students tools for combating bullying, not just a pep talk about why bullying is wrong.

“Just talking about awareness doesn’t fix anything,” said Murphy, who lives in Glen Falls and was a wrestler in college at Brockport. “What separates us from other anti-bullying presentations and projects is that we have the plan to curb, and even stop, bullying in your school, or wherever it exists for you.”

His special guest Wednesday was Rick Yarosh and his companion dog Amos. Yarosh is an Iraq War vet whose Bradley armored vehicle was incinerated by an IED, leaving Yarosh badly burned. He also lost a leg. Yarosh spoke about battling against hopelessness to live a life of purpose and optimism.  


October 10, 2015 - 11:45am
posted by James Burns in sports, Batavia HS, homecoming, football.


Batavia High School Blue Devils contributed quite a bit to the spirit of Homecoming Week with a 54 to 0 win over Wayne Central. The score says it all defense and offence came to play and they did! From the opening drive to the last, a nearly overflowing Vendetta Stadium saw continuous action from turnovers, stops and scoring.

There were, however, a few fouls that could have caused Batavia some trouble if they were not completely dominant for the entire game. More pictures of the game here









October 7, 2015 - 8:03am
posted by Steve Ognibene in Batavia HS, volleyball, sports, Notre Dame.


In a rare volleyball matchup, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Batavia Blue Devils met on Batavia's home court Tuesday night as part of the school's homecoming week events. In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Batavia squad wore purple socks and headbands.

At first the two teams played nearly even score early on, then Notre dame pulled away to take a 17-12 lead. Batavia took a timeout and settled down, but were soon down eight points and lost by a final of 25-18. 


The second set was a little different. Batavia took the lead early and went up 8-7, with the two teams swapping leads throughout the match. Batavia held on for the win 25-22.

Batavia’s Head Coach Jeremy Mettler said “I challenged them to play harder defense and more aggressive serving and they stepped it up in game two, which led us to victory."


In the third set Batavia rallied early going up 4-1 but then Notre Dame went on a hot streak scoring the next six points. Batavia took a time out. Mettler talked with his team about a few fundamentals and encouraged his players to relax and just play volleyball.

Notre Dame Head Coach Rhonda DiCasolo, with more than 40 years experience coaching, told her players to stop giving away points, get their serves over and not let the crowd get to them. Notre Dame held the lead by eight points most of the set, eventually winning 25-16.



Down two sets to one, Batavia needed a win in the fourth set and never gave in. Down by four early, they rallied and tied the score at six apiece. DiCasolo told her squad to settle down.

"Our passing had to get closer to Mary Cate so she can run the offense," DiCasolo said. "We ran a couple plays that were effective, sparked them to get back on track and started going back to the hitting. I told them to stop the tipping.

"We picked it up. They were scrappy. They were taking everything we were giving them, so I told them to go with our power hitters, Shea Norton, Becca Krenzer and Taylor DiMartino."

Notre Dame took the lead and led the middle of the set and was up 19-15 when Batavia called time out.  

Mettler said Notre Dame is a good team. Mettler told his team to play hard, work hard and hit their target with their passes.

Batavia battled, but Notre Dame held the lead and eventually won 25-17 to take the night three sets to one.


"Tonight’s crowd was awesome on both schools that brought tons of kids out to support their schools," Mettler said. "It was one of the most fun games I have coached in the Batavia High gymnasium. We missed a couple crucial serves here and there in the fourth set.

"Notre Dame played well and they didn’t let up. We kept swinging at them and attacked. We didn’t give up and we fought to the end."



Batavia’s stats:

Tessa Engel -- 15 digs, seven kills & two aces

Taylor Stefaniak -- six digs, 12 kills & two aces

Maddie McCulley -- 10 digs, two kills & 18 assists

Courtnee Yasses -- six aces

Notre Dame's stats:

Shea Norton -- 27 kills, six digs

Mary Cate Miceli -- 28 assists, 13 digs

Rebecca Krenzer -- eight kills

Lexi Gerhardy -- nine digs, five kills

Batavia’s record is now 6-7 and the team plays its next game at home today vs. Greece Olympia. Notre Dame improves to 10-1 and plays away tomorrow at Holley.

For more photos visit to: Steve Ognibene Photography

September 25, 2015 - 10:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Blue Devils Hall of Fame, Batavia HS, batavia, sports.

The Batavia Coaches Association hosts the 14th annual Batavia Blue Devil Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner tomorrow Terry Hills Restaurant and Banquet Facility.

Cost is $30 per person. Social hour begins at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6.

Tickets are available at the Athletic Director's Office at Batavia High School. For more information, call 343-2480, ext. 2003.

Below, reproductions of the plaques to be presented and hung at the school.








September 19, 2015 - 12:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, Batavia HS.


The game wasn't pretty, the play wasn't perfect, but Batavia High School showed a good Class A team what it's made of, what Batavia football has always been about, Head Coach Brennan Briggs told his players after the game. 

Grit. Determination. Never surrender. 

The Blue Devils played their hearts out, never giving in even after the Wilson Wildcats overcame a two-TD deficit in the first half to tie the game and threaten to take it over.

The final score was 34-28, and the game was just that close.

"It's a big win for them," Briggs said after the game. "I preached all week we were going to play a good Class A team. It was going to be a close football game and we're going to see what we're made of, and I think we showed, we're a pretty good football team, but we still have a lot to work on."

Coming into the season, with Blue Devils, returning Section V champs for Class B, were ranked #1 in a Section V coaches poll, but Briggs downplays the chatter about his team as a lot of hype.  He doesn't buy into it and he doesn't want his players getting caught up in it either.

"I absolutely hate the hype," Briggs said. "I just like us worrying about Batavia football, getting better every single week. If we put together a great football game, and we play our A game, I think we can definitely make a run, but with that said, any given moment, there's injuries and bad breaks and bad bounces and if we don't play a perfect game anybody can knock us out on any night."

A lot of the credit for Friday's win goes to the defense.  Face with a lot of short field challenges, the defense usually held together.  Briggs said the team has instituted a special red zone unit and that's been a key to Batavia getting tougher when their backs are against the goal line

"A lot of teams think, ah, they're within the five-yard line, the other team is going to score," Briggs said. "Our guys take pride in that unit. It's a special unit. They take pride in not letting the opponent get in the endzone."

Wilson benefitted from some turnovers and some questionable penalties, but the Blue Devils never gave in even as the favorable breaks helped Wilson keep the score tight.

"I was confident all night, the way our defense was playing that we could get the stops as long as we were ahead of them," Briggs said.

Senior QB Greg Mruczek was 14 of 27 for 228 yards and five TDs.  Ryan Hogan had four receiptions for 102 yards and two TDs. Trevor Sherwood caught six passes for 64 yards and a TD.  Anthony Gallo, four receptions, 70 yards and two TDs. Dom Mogavero, 12 tackles. Danny Williams, 11 tackles and a forced fumble, Ray Leach, seven tackles. Adonis Davis six tackles and an interception. Clayton Gorski, six tackles, including a sack.

Batavia is now 3-0 to start the season. Wilson falls to 2-1.  Next up for Batavia, Edison Tech at home. Game time, 7:30 p.m. on Friday.








To purchase prints of photos, click here.

September 12, 2015 - 12:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, Batavia HS.









September 5, 2015 - 11:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, batavia, Batavia HS.


University Prep walked onto Woodward Field on Friday night with a reputation for being big, fast and athletic, and as a Class A team, the Griffins were expected to give the Batavia Blue Devils all they could handle.

Instead, the tables were turned. UPrep was a tough challenge for the defending Section V Class B champions, but even after giving up a couple of big plays, Batavia seemed to be in charge and never really surrendered that all-important intangible, momentum. 

Even so, this wasn't a statement game for the varsity squad, said running back Dom Mogavero.

"Every game is important to us," Mogavero said. "We work so hard, all the way from two-a-days, we've been working out since winter; we've all been together, doing the off-season work, and all of that just leads up to this game and then the next one. We just wanted to play as hard as we can, get a W and start the season right."

Mogavero once again proved to be a key part of the Blue Devils' effort on offense and defense, helping the Blue Devisl to a 33-26 victory. Offensively, he had 23 carries for 135 yards and two TDs. He had eight tackles.

QB Greg Mruczek was 13 for 18 for 124 yards and one touchdown.

Newcomer Ray Leach opened the game with a kick return for a TD and 110 total return yards.

Danny Williams, back on defense this year, had eight tackles.

Even for all the success on opening night, Head Coach Brennan Briggs wasn't entirely satisfied. The defense exposed a couple of weaknesses and missed some assignments. That left the fourth-year coach a little frustrated after the game, a fact he shared with his team.

“Obviously a win is a win, but we talk about improving ourselves every single week and I guess this is the baseline right here," Briggs said. "If we can improve our mistakes and tighten up some things we didn’t do right, I think we can get to where we need to be."

Picked as the preseason #1 small school team in Section V in a coaches' poll, Batavia has a schedule full of strong teams looking to knock down the top team, so Briggs said he expects the hard work to continue.

“It was great having to defend athletes like this because there is no doubt that they are very athletic and a very good football team,” Briggs said. “I’m proud of these guys because the next three weeks we play against teams that are very much like this.”











To purchase prints of these photos. click here.

August 27, 2015 - 11:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, batavia, Bulldawgs, Batavia HS.


The Batavia Blue Devils varsity football team hosted the Batavia Bulldawgs youth football program at Van Detta Stadium on Wednesday night.

(Photos submitted by John Reigle.)







August 18, 2015 - 1:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, sports, football.


There's a fine line between arrogance and cockiness. Confidence can breed complacency. Desire can succumb to expectations that lead to a catacomb of missed opportunities. A season can unravel in the difference between resolve, determination and grit versus just showing up and settling for an "I tried" shrug and a "pass the Gatorade." 

It's that difference Batavia Blue Devils Head Coach Brennan Briggs must negotiate as he heads into the 2015 season leading a team that a year ago, by all accounts, shouldn't have won a sectional title but did, and now is stocked with talented, seasoned seniors who are talking about a repeat on the first day of practice.

"That's going to be biggest battle I'm going to be fighting this season is telling these guys the 2015 football team hasn't won a single game yet together," Briggs said. "Last year, yes, we won a championship, but we were fortunate. We had 24 kids. We stayed healthy. We had zero injuries. We caught quite a few breaks and we made some big plays when we needed to. Nothing is guaranteed. It's very, very difficult to win a back-to-back championship, so honestly I don't like that they're talking about championships or anything like that."

The Blue Devils start pre-season camp with 31 players, and 18 of them are seniors. Some of them are stars if not solid contributors. Greg Mruczek is back at QB. He'll be joined offensively by Trevor Sherwood, Malachi Chenault, Adonis Davis, Anthony Gallo, Dominick Mogavero and Noah Dobbertin.

The depth and versatility is noticeable to the players and they can't help but talk of a repeat.

"We're ready to step back up," Mogavero said. "I feel like the whole team is ready to step up its game."

Gallo agrees.

"We're definitely after another championship," Gallo said. "I feel like we're all ready for it. I feel like that's everybody's goal. We want to win and we just want to get back where we were last year."

Briggs wants to see his players focus on getting better every day. Every day, they play against a faceless opponent on their own internal clock and only they know the score, but the outcome of those matches will determine what happens on Friday nights.

While Briggs wants to tap down the championship talk, he also gets that he's dealing with a group of confident kids, and it was confidence that carried this team from a tough opening loss in 2014 against Livonia through big wins to close out the season and bring Batavia its first sectional title in football since 1991.

Briggs calls it "swag," a characteristic the coach talked about as the wins began to pile up last season.

"I do appreciate that they do have a little bit of swag to them, I guess you could call it that, and it is good, because as we found out last year, we were in some tight games toward the end and that kind of pushed us though," Briggs said. "They had confidence that they could get the job done. I think with all of their off-season work and the commitment they've put into the program, and the buy-in, that does help with every single game, day-in-and-day-out, to know that we have what it takes to win a championship, but saying it and feeling it is a little bit different than going out and doing it."

At the end of Monday's workout, Briggs had a straightforward message for his team: "You have a target on your backs."

If the 2014 team was one that came into the season just hunting for a few extra wins, it's now the team to beat for every local gridiron warrior in helmets and pads.

"Nobody is going to give you anything - nobody," Briggs said. "Nobody is going to say, 'Ah, we're playing Batavia, we're going to back down.' Everybody who plays us is going to want to beat us because it might make their season. That might be it. On their calendars, there might be a star, 'We've got a shot to prove something. We've got a shot to beat Batavia. They think they're on top right now. We're going to go out and show everybody else that we're better than them.' "

But the players do think they're better, maybe not yet better than University Prep, better than Wilson, better than Penn Yan and better than Geneva, but they believe they're better than last year, and that's the team that marched through that championship season with a lot of swag.

"Really, I expect to win another championship," Wilson said. 

His job, as he sees it, is to help keep his teammates focused on that goal and fired up for every minute of every practice, because that's what wins games.

"The seniors want to make it happen again, so there's a lot of pressure to do it again," Davis said.

There's peer pressure, then there are community expectations, something Mruczek acknowledges. 

"This community has a lot of expectations," Mruczek said. "With me being the senior quarter people think I need to step up as a leader and I've been trying to do that more; lead this team in the right direction to win another championship. My goal is to put in another solid season, do my 1/11th on the offensive side of the ball and lead this team to another championship."

Briggs thinks Mruczek is ready for the challenge. He isn't a player, the coach said, who worries about his own stats. He gets ready for each game, each play, and knows what his role his.

"He knows how to keep a level head on his shoulders," Briggs said. "I've never questioned his competitive edge or how hard he works, so I'm not too worried about anything like that. He knows what his job is -- go out there and manage the game and be a leader, and hopefully make some big plays when he needs to."

If all eyes are on him as the senior QB, Mruczek is fine with that role, he said.

"I like the pressure," Mruczek said. "I'm confident in this team. We've got a lot of guys with a lot of confidence. I don't really feel any pressure right now. I'm out here having fun my senior year."









June 12, 2015 - 8:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Notre Dame, batavia, Batavia HS, Batavia Lions Club.


Press release:

The Batavia Lions Club recently presented its annual scholarships and awards for the 2014-2015 school year.  

Each spring, several graduating seniors at Batavia High School and Notre Dame High School apply for these scholarships, are interviewed by a committee of Lions Club members, and are chosen to receive $1,000 toward their college education. In addition, selected students from each high school are awarded the Art Roth Fine Arts Award and the Bill Cook Scholar Athlete Award.  

The final award is the Batavia Lions Club Award in Communications, which is presented to a Genesee Community College student in memory of two former Lions and local media legends – Paul Bostwick, the former managing editor of the Batavia Daily News and James H. Gerrety, the former news director of WBTA.

During the high school football season each fall, members of the Lions Club man the food stands at each stadium to sell snacks during each home game.  The proceeds are used exclusively for the scholarship and awards program.

Genesee Community College’s Jenna Wozniak won this year’s Batavia Lions Club’s Award in Communication.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and the best of luck in all of your future endeavors.

Top photo: Notre Dame’s 2014-2015 winners are (including Retiring Principal Dr. Joe Scanlon (L) and Athletic Director Mike Rapone (R): Emma Francis, winner of the Bill Cook Scholar Athlete Award, Anna Spring, winner of the Art Roth Fine Arts Award, and scholarship winners Lydia Moens and Anna Warner.

Bottom photo: This year’s Batavia High School winners are from left: Samir Jain, winner of the Bill Cook Scholar Athlete Award, scholarship winners Madison Kabel, Mica Pitcher, Katie Kesler, Allison Della Penna, and Ava Haitz, winner of the Art Roth Fine Arts Award.


June 10, 2015 - 9:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, entertainment.


Photos from last night's Batavia High School Talent Showcase.

Above, Ross Chua performs with three volunteers from the audience, Cara Ranalli, Malik Vascianne and Lindsey Hill.


Ross Chua


Tyzonah Reese


Madison Hoerbelt and Andrea Gilebarto with Mr. Dan Grillo playing the piano. 


Kelli Dumuhosky


Rachel Flint


Kesa Janes and Hannah Bluhm


McKenna Dzieman


Alex Hansen


Laura Guiste


Jerrett Laskett

June 10, 2015 - 8:45am
posted by Steve Ognibene in Batavia HS, track & field, sports, batavia.


Batavia High School track state qualifiers will participate this Friday and Saturday at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association track meet at Albany State College.  The state meet consists of two classifications, with large schools in Class A, AA, and small schools, including Batavia, in classes B, CC, C and D schools. 

I interviewed Coach Dan Geiger, head coach of the girls team, and spoke about this weekend’s itinerary.

“The kids will board for Albany after school Thursday representing section five and arrive for a practice late that evening," Geiger said. "The kids will compete on Friday and then return again on Saturday, and if they qualify they will do what’s called a federation championship in which they combine large, small schools and the public athletic association from NYC area. Every school in New York State will have a chance with that one, but only the top eight schools in the state will compete in those races on Saturday. Depending on how Friday goes we are looking to have all the kids participate Saturday and the goal is to arrive back at BHS Saturday night will lots of medals.

"Just about every year we have sent a couple of each from boys and girls to the state meet. This year we have a much larger group than in the past and it’s always great to get relays in and it’s a lot of fun for the kids. A lot of individuals over the years make it in for various races. This is the first time in history that we will have both boys and girls relay racers go, which is an outstanding accomplishment as a program. Our program has been very strong the last eight years consistently that we have sent a few kids to participate.

"We have had some really strong individuals on our relay teams and had a very difficult choice as to who to pick for our relays and have eight strong 400-meter runners. We can only bring six to the meet, four to participate and two listed as alternates. Two girls I want to recognize -- Reagan Henrici and Aimee Freeman -- who were right there with these girls but unfortunately we could only bring six and not all eight to the meet. We got have some really great depth that have showed it in sectional time on both girls and boys side that will compete with them and hopefully make it on the podium.“

Pictured above from left, first row: freshman Sophie Dinehart (4x4), senior Missa Dispenza (4x4), 100m & 400m hurdles, freshman Kiaya Franklin (4x4), eighth-grader Bri Wormley (4x4), freshman Claire Zickl (4x4), not pictured -- senior Becca Canale (4x4).

Second row, from left: junior Cal Jantzi (4x8), junior Louie Leone (4x8), sophomore Campbell Andersen (4x8), senior Devon Keopp (disc thrower), junior Nick Callisher (4x8), senior Jerrett Laskett (4x8) & 400m hurdles. 

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