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November 5, 2008 - 1:21pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in football, Le Roy, sports, Oakfield, Alabama.

I was just making my daily visit to the Section 5 football Web site, and found some interesting stuff.

There is updated scheduling information for the state tournament, which either Le Roy or Oakfield-Alabama will be moving on to after Friday night's game. The Class C Far West Regionals will be played at University at Buffalo next Saturday at 10 a.m., which is always a tough time to start a game. Teams play at either 7 p.m. Friday nights or 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoons all season long and then get thrown out of their routines with the early start.

The state semifinals are at 12 p.m. Nov. 22 at PAETEC Park and the finals will be at 2 p.m. on the 29th at the Carrier Dome.

O-A and Le Roy will be playing at 6 p.m. this Friday for the Section 5 Class C title and a chance to move into the state tournament.

Also on the site was a photo from the finals luncheon. John Dowd and Brian Moran in suits. I have never seen Dowd (back row, far right) in a suit. 

November 1, 2008 - 8:11pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in football, sports, Oakfield, pembroke, Alabama.


Josh Athoe wasn't even supposed to be on the field Saturday afternoon.

The Oakfield-Alabama junior suffered a horrific broken leg at the start of last baseball season and was told he wasn't going to play baseball last year, or football this year.

But midway through the season, he got cleared from the doctor and has been seeing quality time for the Hornets as both a fullback and defensive back.

That alone makes for a great story.

Add in the fact that his interception was the biggest play of the game in O-A's 14-0 win over Pembroke in the Section 5 Class C semifinal game at Aquinas High School, and you've got a blockbuster.

The game was everything you would expect from the Pembroke/Oakfield-Alabama rivalry as both squad's defenses were stingy and scoring opportunities were few and far between.

The Dragons had one realistic chance to put points on the board in the first quarter, but turned the ball over on downs at the O-A 26-yard line.

The Hornets started marching early in the second quarter, but Andrew Wright intercepted an A.J. Kehlenbeck pass at the Pembroke 7.

There was some controversy soon after that as Chris Williams seemed to pull down Pembroke quarterback David Kleckler in the end zone, but officials said Kleckler got the ball away first and ruled it an incomplete pass.

After a short punt, O-A had great field position and set up a 33-yard field goal attempt by Jon Fisher, who set the Section 5 single game record for PATs in last week's 63-34 victory over Dansville. Fisher's kick missed its target and there was still no score.

After Kleckler ripped off a 22-yard run, the Dragons were in business with very little time left before the break. Kleckler tossed one up towards the end zone, but Tim Smith pulled it down for the Hornets with just five seconds left in the half.

Pembroke received the second half kickoff and immediately began moving the ball down the field as Kleckler and Wright hooked up on a 20-yard pass.

But that drive came to a quick stop and wound up giving Oakfield-Alabama its first score of the game.

Kleckler tossed up a pass for Ken Babcock that Athoe snagged and returned about 60 yards for the TD. The extra point failed and O-A led 6-0.

There were three straight possessions without a first down before the third quarter ended.

The Hornets started a drive near the end of the frame and carried a five minute long drive into the fourth quarter before being faced with a fourth down. Fisher had an amazing put that rolled out of bounds at the Pembroke 1-yard line, giving the Dragons nearly impossible field position.

Kleckler found Babcock on a 10-yard pass and then ran for 11 yards, but Smith broke up a pass intended for Babcock on a fourth-and-4 at the Pembroke 29, with about four minutes left.

The Hornets marched down the short field, taking time off the clock, and wound up drawing Pembroke offsides on a fourth-and-2 inside the 5. 

Smith scored on a 1-yard run a few plays later, then ran in the two-point conversion for the final tally.

Pembroke falls to 7-2, with both losses coming at the hands of rival Oakfield-Alabama.

The Hornets are a perfect 9-0 and will be playing top-seeded Le Roy (9-0) in the finals next Friday night at PAETEC Park. 


October 30, 2008 - 5:18pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in football, Le Roy, sports, Oakfield, pembroke, Alabama.

 Pembroke (7-1) vs. Oakfield-Alabama (8-0)

4 p.m. Saturday, at Aquinas

Here we go again.

Oakfield-Alabama and Pembroke is the best Genesee Region League rivalry and the buildup for the regular season game was huge, the game was even better than could be imagined and now the two powerhouse squads are matching up in the Section 5 Class C semifinals.

Tim Smith scored a late touchdown and Brad Riner ran in a two-point conversion as the Hornets won the regular season contest 25-24 in Week 6, giving fans the best show in the rivalry game's history.

O-A went on to beat Holley in the final week of the regular season and won the league title outright, going undefeated for the first time since 1986. Pembroke beat Attica in the final week of the season and finished one point away from the title and a perfect season.

The Hornets thumped Dansville 63-34 in the opening round of the playoffs and the Dragons had a big second half to beat Bishop Kearney 32-12. Now the scene shifts to Rochester, as the game will be played on the turf at Aquinas High School.

Smith and Riner were the stars in the first game and will be the focal point of the O-A offense yet again as the two GR all-stars are having monster seasons.

Smith has 112 rushing attempts for 971 yards and 15 touchdowns while Riner has tallied 817 yards and 12 scores on 108 rushes. Joe Natalizia, Jason Stanley and Josh Athoe will also see the ball.

The Hornets didn't have to throw the ball much in the regular season game, but if Pembroke is successful in stuffing the run, look for A.J. Kehlenbeck to put the ball in the air. The quarterback has a great arm but has had not had to use it much this year because of O-A's run-first approach.

Kehlenbeck has thrown to seven different receivers while completing 18-of-41 attempts for 271 yards and six touchdowns.

Some people might give Pembroke's offense the advantage because of the playing surface with speedster Andrew Wright and cutting-runner Mike Dibble.

Wright can do it all and has excelled on special teams, running the ball and catching it. He is looking forward to running on turf and adding to his 896 rushing yards with 10 touchdowns and 340-plus receiving yards with three scores.

Dibble is over 800 yards rushing with 10 touchdowns.

Quarterback David Kleckler and tight end Ken Babcock are a great passing duo, with Kleckler completing 33-of-62 attempts for 733 yards and 11 scores.

The Dragons are dealing with some injury issues, most notably starting center Josh Hanel, who is out for the game. O-A has some minor injury issues, but comes in mostly healthy.

Oakfield-Alabama is ranked eighth in the state while Pembroke comes in at No. 17.



October 28, 2008 - 8:17pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, Attica, football, Le Roy, sports, Oakfield, pembroke, Notre Dame, Alabama.

 I'll be visiting the five teams that are still playing in the Section 5 playoffs this week, doing video previews as well as my written ones. They will all be on The Batavian on Thursday to help fans get ready for the games.

Notre Dame will be playing Dundee on Saturday at  noon at PAETEC Park in the Class D finals.

Le Roy will play Letchworth at 1 p.m. with Pembroke vs. Oakfield-Alabama to follow at Aquinas in the Class C semifinals on Saturday.

Then Attica will play Bath at 6 p.m. Sunday at PAETEC in a Class B semifinal game.

I attended two practices today and will visit the other three teams on Wednesday and Thursday. You will get the most in-depth previews for local teams as we go deeper into the playoffs here at The Batavian.

I will also be covering games this weekend as well as doing a radio preview and guest appearance during the game on WVIN for the Attica/Bath game on Sunday. You will be able to hear the broadcast locally at www.localsportsedge.com

WBTA will also be broadcasting local games this weekend. The Notre Dame/Dundee game can be heard on 1490 AM or at www.wbta1490.com, and then at the conclusion of that game, Le Roy/Letchworth will be picked up. WBTA will stay on the air to cover the Oakfield-Alabama/Pembroke contest.

You will be able to see video highlights, a game story and photos of each game as soon as possible on The Batavian as well.


October 26, 2008 - 7:14pm
posted by Sam Martino in sports, Oakfield, pembroke, playoffs, Alabama.

The Pembroke Dragons are just waiting eagerly for the rematch with O-A.  They are pumped and ready to roll from the get-go.  It's going to be a nail grinder, but Pembroke has the where-with-all to pull this one off.  There are no surprises from O-A this time - the Dragons are ready to win!

October 25, 2008 - 6:19pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in football, sports, Oakfield, pembroke, Alabama.

 Sloppy playing conditions held Pembroke down early, but the Dragons got rolling late in the game and topped Bishop Kearney 32-12 Saturday.

The win sets up a semifinal game against league-rival Oakfield-Alabama at Aquinas next Saturday.

"It was a great game the first time around and I'm glad both teams won and we get to play again," said Pembroke coach Chip Foster. "We are going to be playing on a great turf surface; it's going to be a great game."

Andrew Wright and David Kleckler both had huge games, with Wright rushing the ball 20 times for 122 yards and three touchdowns and Kleckler rushing six times for 77 yards and a score. He also completed 3-of-6 pass attempts for 82 yards and a TD.

Kearny took the lead in the second quarter when Quentin Gause picked up a fumble and took it 38 yards into the end zone.

Late in the second quarter, Pembroke took the lead when Wright broke a 48-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-2 and Matt Phelps hit the extra point.

Kearney took a third quarter lead when Jake Meek hooked up with Blaine Roberts on a 46-yard touchdown pass, but that was it for the Kings scoring.

Wright scored the game-winning points on a 66-yard touchdown run later in the third.

Kleckler hooked up with Ken Babcock on a 23-yard TD pass, Wright had a 1-yard touchdown run and Kleckler scored on a 53-yard keeper late in the game for the final score.

Kearney drops to 4-4 while the third-seeded Dragons improve to 7-1 and will be playing No. 2 O-A in the semifinals.

October 24, 2008 - 11:13pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in sports, Oakfield, Alabama, dansville.

You don't see a lot of games like the one between Dansville and Oakfield-Alabama Friday night.

A close game early turned into an offense show as the second-seeded Hornets knocked off the seven seed 63-34.

Jon Fisher set the Section 5 record for most extra points kicked in a game with nine, both Tim Smith and Brad Riner had huge games and the Hornets are moving on to the semifinals, where they will either see Pembroke or Bishop Kearney.

Smith had 333 all-purpose yards, including 196 on the ground. He also scored six touchdowns, which is one shy of the Section 5 playoff single game record. Riner gained 178 yards with two TDs on 13 carries.

After a three-and-out, O-A had a six minute drive to start things off, with Tim Smith scoring on a 20-yard scamper.

The Hornets recovered the onside kick, Smith broke a couple more runs and then scored from 3-yards out.

But the Mustangs were definitely not going to back down.

Dansville had a nice drive of its own, marching 65 yards behind the passing of Garrett Hoag, but couldn't convert on a fourth-and-goal at the 5-yard line.

Oakfield-Alabama started moving the ball and then made a mistake, coughing the ball up and giving the Mustangs some solid starting field position. Dansville quickly capitalized as Hoag tossed a 21-yard TD pass to Jordan VanDunk.

A 20-yard run by Riner led to a 9-yard touchdown run by Smith with two minutes left in the half, giving O-A a 21-7 advantage.

After the Mustangs went three-and-out, the Hornets were looking to run out the clock and go into halftime with the two-score advantage.

But Dansville called a timeout when Oakfield-Alabama had a fourth-and-4 with five seconds left on the clock. The move might have been to try and cause a turnover or maybe they thought O-A would punt, but coach John Dowd and company decided to take advantage of the coaching blunder.

Quarterback A.J. Kehlenbeck gave the ball to Smith on a screen and the senior worked his way 46 yards into the end zone, making it 28-7 at the break.

Riner was impressive in the third quarter as the Hornets received the opening kickoff and he quickly had a 48-yard touchdown run. Dansville scored on a touchdown pass to Matt Schuster to get within 21 points, but Riner's next carry went 57 yards for another score.

The Hornets recoverd the onside kick, then Smith scored his fifth touchdown of the game on a 50-yard run.

Schuster had an 80-yard touchdown run for Dansville and Josh Athoe scored from 2-yards out for Oakfield-Alabama, making the score 56-21 after three quarters of play.

Hoag tossed a 61-yard touchdown pass to VanDunk, Smith returned a kickoff 91 yards for a score and Tim Rauber got a Dansville touchdown to end the game.

Noah Seward led the defensive effort with eight tackles.

O-A improves to 8-0 and will get the winner of Saturday's game between No. 3 Pembroke and No. 6 Bishop Kearney.

Kearney knocked the Hornets out of the playoffs last year and the Dragons are O-A's league rival, which they beat 25-24 in the regular season.


October 23, 2008 - 7:41pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in football, sports, Oakfield, Alabama.

 Dansville (3-4) at Oakfield-Alabama (7-0)

7 p.m. Friday

The Hornets were the best of the best in the Genesee Region League this season and are looking to win the first sectional title since 2006, after getting knocked out early because - well, many reasons last season.

Quarterback Tim Smith quit in the middle of last season, injuries decimated the roster and Bishop Kearney was a darn good football team.

But O-A is back on track this season, with Smith being one of nine all-stars on the roster. He's rushed for 771 yards and 11 touchdowns as the Hornets have ran for over 2,200 yards.

Coach of the Year John Dowd's offensive philosophy is to run the ball, take time off the clock and get points after long drives. This year's squad does that very well.

Fullback Brad Riner has picked up 639 yards and scored 10 times while Jason Stanley (309 yards), Joe Natalizia (270) and Josh Athoe (137) also get attempts.

Expect quarterback A.J. Kehlenbeck to get some passes off in this game as the Hornets prepare for down the road.

But this is not a no-brainer. Oakfield-Alabama - ranked eighth in the state - will be tested in the first round against a solid Dansville squad, that has had to play Hornell, Bath, Honeoye Falls-Lima and Livonia this season.

The Mustangs have a diverse offense and can attack with both a running and passing attack. 

Quarterback Garrett Hoag has experience and spreads the ball around. Hoag has completed 89-of-180 attempts for 1,361 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. 

Matt Schuster has caught 30 of those passes for 520 yards with five touchdowns, while Jordan Van Dunk and Colton Green have each hauled in 23 passes. Brandon Doyle has 13 catches.

Schuster is also the top rusher on the team, gaining 461 yards with five touchdowns on 40 carries.

Caleb Perry has 284 yards with four scores and Doyle has pitched in 227 yards.

Assuming the second-seeded Hornets get past the seventh-seeded Mustangs, there is the possibility O-A will play Pembroke again. The Hornets beat the Dragons by just one point in Week 6.

October 21, 2008 - 8:16pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in sports, Oakfield, golf, Alabama, st. john fisher.

 Oakfield-Alabama graduate John Gerber finished in a tie for 27th out of 52 golfers at the McDaniel Fall Invitational this past weekend.

The tournament featured 10 teams from the East coast and the St. John Fisher College freshman helped his team to a sixth place finish.

Gerber shot an 82 in the first round and an 81 in the second, finishing 21 strokes behind medalist Robert Womble from Washington and Lee College, who shot even par at Piney Branch Golf Club in Hampstead, Md.

You can see the complete tournament results here

October 17, 2008 - 11:00pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in football, sports, Oakfield, holley, Alabama.

The Oakfield-Alabama football team wrapped up an undefeated season Friday with a 45-6 drubbing of Holley.

 It is the first time the Hornets have gone 7-0 since 1986 and the 10th seeded team in the state for Class C will enter the Section 5 Class C playoffs with a No. 2 seed.

Brad Riner had a great final regular season game, gaining 134 yards with three touchdowns on just six carries. His TDs came from 9, 40 and 52 yards.

A.J. Kehlenbeck had a touchdown run and threw a 15-yard TD pass to tight end Noah Seward and Joe Natalizia scored on a 5-yard run.

Jon Fisher kicked a 38-yard field goal.

Josh Athoe had 10 tackles.

Guy Hills threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Sean Baylor for the Hawks, who end the regular season with an 0-7 record and are heading to Pool Play.

October 16, 2008 - 7:56pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in football, sports, Oakfield, holley, Alabama.

 Holley (0-6) at Oakfield-Alabama (6-0)

7 p.m. Friday

The Hornets won the Genesee Region League title last week with a thrilling 25-24 victory over Pembroke as the two undefeated squads went blow-for-blow in front of about 2,500 fans.

With the playoffs just a week away, the Hornets just need to avoid a major let-down to clinch the No. 2 seed. O-A can still get the top seed in Class C if they win and Hornell beats Le Roy Friday night.

Oakfield-Alabama is the 10th ranked team in the state.

Tim Smith and Brad Riner had huge games for the Hornets in the title-clinching win and will look to wrap up the regular season by adding to their impressive rushing totals.

Smith has 771 yards and 11 touchdowns on 95 carries and Riner has pitched in a solid 505 yards and seven touchdowns on 89 attempts. Riner also had the big 2-point conversion run to give the Hornets the win last week.

Jason Stanley has picked up 260 yards and Josh Athoe has 105 and will likely each get some carries.

With such a mismatch, O-A might try to work on some things before the playoffs start, and that could lead to some passing by A.J. Kehlenbeck.

The senior QB has had a very good year - going 13-of-26 for 145 yards and four TDs - and may get a chance to open things up a bit before the second team gets in the game.

Oakfield-Alabama's defense is as good as the offense as the team has scored 241 points and given up just 91.  That unit is led by a big, physical defensive line.

Chris Williams leads the way with 32 tackles with Riner and Noah Seward each pitching in 27.

These guys will have the job of shutting down the Holley rushers.

The Hawks have not had a lot of luck moving the ball this season and are looking to get through this game and attempt to contend in Pool Play.

Kyle Steadman has emerged as the top rusher for Holley and scored twice in a 50-15 loss to Attica last week. Guy Hills can also make plays for the Hawks.


October 15, 2008 - 2:33pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in football, sports, Oakfield, Alabama, lyons.

As many area schools face issues with declining enrollment, there is a prime example of what we could see in the future happening at Lyons High School right now.

Lyons had to forfeit last weekend's game against Dundee and today announced it will not be fielding a team for the Class DD playoffs, which start this weekend. The reason is that the team does not have the  minimum of 16 kids that must suit up to play a game.

The eighth-seeded Lions were scheduled to play No. 1 Caledonia-Mumford Friday night.

The only team in the bracket to be pushed into Pool Play is Warsaw, which one would assume would be given that final playoff position. But, it is Wednesday and Cal-Mum and Warsaw have already been working on preparations for the original teams on the schedule. So Warsaw will not be jumping into the playoffs.

This happened two years ago when Holley had to forfeit its final regular season game and opening round playoff game, both against Pembroke.

The Dragons went two weeks without a game and lost in the sectional semifinals because they were obviously rusty and had to play a very good Le Roy squad.

Now Cal-Mum might very well go into the playoffs with a week off and the possibility of facing a solid Avon team in the semifinals.

 Elba felt the need to merge with Byron-Bergen because of the declining numbers, with hopes of avoiding this situation. Unfortunately, this is something that now appears to be a topic we are going to be discussing come playoff time every year or two now.

October 13, 2008 - 1:24pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, restaurants, food, Alabama.

For those of us who know, all of the commercials on television that tout the greatness of this or that fast-food patty have got it all wrong. No Wendy's or Burger King or MacDonald's slab can hold a candle to a real, fresh ground beef burger made from scratch.

When we first began to sample the culinary bounty of Batavia back in May, I was sure that I had found the best hamburger to be found at Jackson Street Grill. It was thick, grilled and seasoned almost the way my Italian grandfather would do it: as if it were a meatball.

Then, last week, I stopped by the Alabama Hotel for lunch and ordered their half-pound burger. It, too, was thick, grilled and seasoned to perfection. Plus it came with fresh-cut french fries. Now I don't know who has got the best. Nor have I tasted all that's out there.

So I turn to you, trusted readers, to help settle this age old debate once and for all: Who's got the best burger in Genesee County? Feel free to send us your photos as proof. Because a good-tasting burger is often a good-looking one, too.

October 11, 2008 - 1:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama.

If you have news to share about Alabama, tag your post "Alabama" and it will automatically appear on this page. More help here.

October 10, 2008 - 11:10pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in football, Le Roy, sports, Oakfield, pembroke, Alabama.

 When Tim Smith and Brad Riner embraced just moments after the Oakfield-Alabama football team had shocked visiting Pembroke in the final seconds to wrap up the Genesee Region League title, saying it was an emotional moment would be an understatement. 

The two tearful O-A stars literally left it all on the field and scored the final points in an amazing 25-24 victory in front of an estimated 2,500 fans.

Smith's story is well known.

He literally walked off the field in the middle of a game last season and quit on his team. But his teammates welcomed him back - and it was Smith that plunged into the end zone with 29 seconds left on the clock to put the Hornets down by one point.

The coaching staff initially wanted to kick the extra point and go into overtime, especially with Smith getting banged up on the touchdown run. But the O-A players made the call to go for two, and coach John Dowd let his players decide if they were going to win the Genesee Region League championship outright on a two-point conversion.

After burning a timeout because of some confusion, the Hornets lined up and gave the ball to Riner, who took a sweep to the left side of the line and dove into the end zone to give O-A the lead.

Riner wrapped up the league title (it is the first time the Hornets have won the title outright since Dowd has been coach) with an interception two plays later.

This was a typical Oakfield-Alabama/Pembroke game, a classic battle between the top two programs in the GR.

There was no smack talk on the field, no cheap shots ... nothing but a hard fought battle between two great teams.

Pembroke looked as if it was going to dominate early on as David Kleckler returned the opening kickoff 70 yards to set up an Andrew Wright 1-yard touchdown run less than a minute into the contest.

Neither team moved the ball after that in the first quarter and it was 7-0 after 12 minutes.

Wright put an end to the battle of the punters with a 41-yard run midway through the second quarter. Matthew Phelps nailed an impressive 39-yard field goal to put the Dragons up 10-0.

O-A started near midfield and quarterback A.J. Kehlenbeck rumbled for 17 yards to set up a Riner 6-yard TD run with about a minute left in the half, making the score 10-7 at the break.

After the second half started with defensive stops, Riner broke off a 16-yarder and Smith eventually scored from 3-yards out to give the Hornets a 14-10 advantage.

The Dragons seemed to have lost it at this point.

Three consecutive conservative rushing calls set up a fourth-and-8 at the Pembroke 30-yard line.

But Kleckler scrambled around for a little bit and launched a pass into the end zone, which was hauled in by Jacob Reeves. It is just the second reception he's had all season long.

Pembroke carried the 17-14 lead into the fourth.

Oakfield-Alabama's power rushing attack led to a 7-plus minute drive that allowed the score to be tied up when Jon Fisher kicked a 24-yard field goal.

On the ensuing drive, Kleckler scrambled for 32 yards and Mike Dibble rumbled for 14 yards, but two penalties in three plays put Pembroke in a tough situation.

The Dragons had a third-and-17 at the Oakfield 23-yard line.

Kleckler dropped back to pass and felt the pressure from O-A's defensive lineman, but he scrambled around for a couple of seconds and found tight end Ken Babcock at about the 5-yard line. Babcock took a few steps into the end zone and the Dragons led 24-17 with 2:42 left in the game.

Smith had a long kick return to midfield and O-A's longest run on the final drive was a 12-yard scamper by Riner.

The win means Oakfield-Alabama is now 6-0 and is league champions. Pembroke falls to 5-1.

With Le Roy's victory over Caledonia-Mumford tonight, O-A is still the No. 2 seed in Class C and Pembroke is at No. 3. 

The Dragons play Attica next week.


October 10, 2008 - 6:45pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Neighborhoods, Alabama.

So we've talked about the good eats at the Alabama Hotel, the fine meats at Alabama Holley Farms, the camels and the general sentiment in town that there ain't much to see, which I'm going to go ahead and ascribe to the maxim: you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. Alabama is gorgeous. Maybe that's why folks say they've got not much to see. They don't want the rest of us cretins to go stomping through the splendor of it all.

At the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, they've got nearly 11,000 acres of pristine lands. Dorothy Gerhart told me they see about 264 species of birds pass through each year, most of which stay for at least a little while. Then there are the bald eagles that build their nests—some the size of a Buick—on site and only leave the refuge when everything freezes and are usually back by the end of January. Dorothy is the visitor services manager at the refuge.

Folks come to the refuge just to walk the trails, some come during hunting season for the waterfowl and game, some come in the middle of the winter for the ice fishing on the marshes. It truly is a bit of old country upstate.

Dorothy and I got to talking about all of the caterpillars in the road. I must have seen about a dozen of them down the half mile stretch to get to the visitor's center off Route 77. (Throughout the day, in fact, I'm sure I saw at least 30 of the suckers inching their way across the gravel.)

Dorothy told me that all of these woolybears, as they're called, are a sign that we may be setting in for an especially severe winter. I read much the same in the Farmer's Almanac. All of the extra berries on the trees, too, are such a sign, said Dorothy, that shows nature's own effort to take care of her own in the coming of a cold winter.

As for the other sights and sounds of Alabama, here's another video and some photos that should cover the rest of my trip. Enjoy.

Here's an especially regal-looking home on Lewiston Road:

Here are some sights from around town:

October 10, 2008 - 4:15pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Neighborhoods, Alabama.

South Alabama is parked on a fine stretch of Route 63 bordered on either side by green flat land, trees, homes and ditches that stretch out in every other direction. There's a quaint old town hall not much more than a stone's throw from Route 77, which, north, takes you to the marsh and woodlands of the wildlife refuge—more on that later—and, south, into the rolling hills of Indian Falls—and I know that because I got lost down there for a little while after I missed a turn. No matter. It was a nice drive.

Anyhow, back to Alabama. My first stop was the town hall, which I later found out used to be an old schoolhouse. It was closed. Another fellow who had stopped by and found that out told me so. He also said, when I asked what there was to see in Alabama, that I should check out the meat market where folks come from all around to pick up a hock or a flank and the Alabama Hotel, which is no longer a hotel, only a restaurant that serves a good fish fry on Friday evenings, he's been told, and both places are on the same corner, acorss the street from each other, where Route 63 and Route 77 meet up for the second time at the flashing red light. Other than that, he said, there's not much else to see.

Most other folks that I saw said much the same.

Driving down Lewiston Road, after a stop at the wildlife refuge—more on that later—and after I stuffed myself full of a half-pound of seasoned ground beef and fresh-cut fries at the Alabama Hotel—oh so good—I nearly drove off the road and into a tree after I thought I saw... was pretty darned sure I saw: a camel. A dromedary, if I wasn't mistaken, just hanging out in a little dirt hole in the ground (literally) chewing cud.

You'll have to excuse me. Camels are a rare sight for me. I was giddy like a kid at the zoo for the first time when I saw it. Have you seen this camel before? Does anyone know his (or her) story? No one seemed to be around to tell me about it.

So, after the camel experience, I kept on down Lewiston Road until I spotted a sign for maple syrup. Now, for those who don't know, there's a rare delicacy known to a certain circle of bootlegger syrup makers and their fans as 'Grade B' maple syrup. This is the dark stuff, often black as molasses, that tastes like liquid maple sugar candy and makes your eyelids twitch. Unfortunately, it is kind of illegal, so you won't find it very often, unless you know where to look or happen upon a clever purveyor of the stuff who knows the tricks of the trade, so to speak.

This fellow didn't have that stuff, which is probably safer for him and me anyway, but he had crates full of quart jars of the fancy maple syrup for only $12 a jar. Just look for the sign on Lewiston Road if you're interested. Don't be intimidated by the sign on the door that reads: "Open Door and Yell." It means what it says, and it got me inside. Too bad that syruper Ken Howard wasn't up for a video interview today. At least he was kind enough to invite me to a tap run in the spring.

Tune in later this afternoon for part two of my adventures in Alabama.

October 10, 2008 - 9:05am
posted by Philip Anselmo in Neighborhoods, Alabama, migration.

Well folks, the way I see it, if the birds get to migrate, so should The Batavian. Don't get me wrong, I love our office in the Masonic Temple with its frosted glass windows and door, the antique radiator adorned in arabesque—that feel of the old shamus, Philip Marlowe, who keeps a cork-topped fifth of rye in the desk drawer and just sits and waits for the next dame to peek demurely through the crack of the door. Yeah, our office is nice.

Nevertheless, it's time for a change of scenery. Genesee County is a big beautiful place. Let's get out and see what she's got to show us. Since each town and village name speaks its own hidden secrets to me, its own individual promise of undiscovered treasure, there's only one way to do this: start at the top... of the alphabet, that is.

So on this, our first day of migration, I shall travel to Alabama. Don't know what I'll find there. Don't know what to expect. All I need is a place to sit, a place to eat and some folks to talk to about life and about whatever else folks talk about in Alabama.

Do you have any ideas where I should go? What are the must see sites of Alabama? Who's got the best BLT in town? Well... that's enough talk. Time to hit the road. Alabama, here I come.

October 9, 2008 - 4:29pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in football, Le Roy, sports, Oakfield, pembroke, Alabama.

Pembroke (5-0) at Oakfield-Alabama (5-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Genesee Region League football fans have had this game marked on their calendars since the schedules came out.

Pembroke and Oakfield-Alabama have had the top two teams in the league all season long and this game will decide the champion.

O-A would clinch the title outright with a victory and avoiding a total meltdown against Holley next week. Pembroke would clinch at least a tie and would claim the title outright with a win and a victory over Attica in the final week of the season.

This game has become the biggest rivalry in the GR in recent years as both teams are powerhouse programs that compete for a sectional title every year.

It shouldn't be any different this year as Oakfield-Alabama is currently the second seed in Class C while Pembroke follows at No. 3.

Le Roy is the top seed and will be playing tough games with Caledonia-Mumford and Hornell in the final two weeks, so the winner of this game could end up getting the prestigious top seed in sectionals.

The Hornets are ranked No. 10 in the state while Pembroke gets an honorable mention.

Pembroke's Chip Foster and O-A's John Dowd became head coaches at the same time and the Dragons have won four out of five meetings between the two powerhouses.

The games are typically defensive battles:

2003 - Pembroke 17, Oakfield-Alabama 13

2004 - Pembroke 14, Oakfield-Alabama 9

2005 - Oakfield-Alabama 34, Pembroke 16

2006 - Pembroke 14, Oakfield-Alabama 6

2007 - Pembroke 13, Oakfield-Alabama 10

The Hornets have a big size advantage on the offensive and defensive line, but Pembroke might have the edge in the amount of skilled players that will touch the football.

Andrew Wright tops that list.

He has rushed the ball 39 times for 539 yards and seven touchdowns while catching 12 passes for 334 yards and three scores.

But Wright is by no means the only offensive weapon.

Mike Dibble has gained 390 yards and scored eight touchdowns, Josh Phillips has 268 yards and six TDs and quarterback David Kleckler has rushed for 230 yards and two touchdowns on just 17 rushes.

Kleckler has completed 21-of-38 attempts for 532 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. His main targets are Wright and tight end Ken Babcock (9 receptions, 198 yards, 3 TDs).

Tim Smith has been the biggest producer offensively thus far for the Hornets, gaining 651 yards with nine touchdowns on 73 carries. But O-A will spread the ball around.

Brad Riner has 413 yards and six touchdowns, Joe Natalizia has 221 yards and two scores and Jason Stanley has pitched in 212 yards with one touchdown.

Josh Athoe returned from a leg injury suffered during baseball season and got the start last week, rushing 16 times for 83 yards with two touchdowns.

A.J. Kehlenbeck has added a pretty good passing attack for the Hornets. He has completed 13-of-24 pass attempts - to seven different receivers - for 145 yards and four TDs. Noah Seward leads the team in receptions with three for 36 yards. He also has four sacks.



October 8, 2008 - 8:39pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in football, Le Roy, sports, Oakfield, pembroke, Alabama.

 Just a quick note.

My high school football previews have been pushed back until Thursday this week because I'm working on something special.

So make sure you check back throughout the day as I will be posting them as I complete them.

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