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November 12, 2014 - 5:00pm

Batavia City School District is in the running to win $1,000 because the varsity football team has been featured on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel's game of the week. All that is needed is your vote (and plenty of others before the deadline of this Friday, November 14, at 2:30 p.m., so feel free to pass this information on… quickly!)

 

It is so easy – not to mention fun to replay one of the amazing passes/catches of the season! Just click on this link to go directly to the voting (and replay) page:

http://www.twcsportschannel.com/ny/rochester/play-of-the-year.html

 

The Time Warner Cable SportsChannel Play of the Year contest recognizes the best plays from their coverage of high school football this fall. Each weekly winner has advanced to a final competition to crown a Play of the Year. Along with bragging rights, a $1,000 Grand Prize will be awarded to the school that executed the winning Play of the Year.

 

Now is the time for all Batavia City School District students, families, and friends to vote for Batavia’s play. Do it now, because, remember, voting ends this Friday at 2:30 pm.

November 7, 2014 - 9:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, high school sports, Le Roy.

Le Roy beat Bath in a Class C Section V final this evening in Rochester, 34-24.

The Rams had the Oatkan Knights on the ropes by the close of the first quarter, securing a lead of 14-6.

A turnover deep in Bath territory proved effective in shifting the momentum and sent the Knights on a 28-0 run, with Bath managing the final touchdown of the game.

The win is the 15th Section V title, a new Section V record.

It's the 202 career win for Head Coach Brian Moran and his 14th Section V title.

Next step, a Far West Championship game next week.

Game stats: Mike McMullen was 13 for 28 for 250 yards and four TDs. Tom Kelso, 18 carries for 71 yards and a TD. Ryan McQuillen had two catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Jake Henry had four catches for 38 yards and two TDs. Kody Lampkin had eight tackles and a sack. Nick Egeling, eight tackles. Tyler Prinz, seven tackles. Tom Kelson, seven tackles.

Photos by David Boyce. For more pictures, click here.

November 7, 2014 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, high school sports, Le Roy.

Sports talk in Ron Rossi's barber shop flows as freely as hair tonic and Barbasol.

From the folding seats along the north wall, facing the green leather, chrome-trimmed chair that is nearly always occupied by a customer, you could probably sit all day if you liked talking sports.

Rossi bleeds pinstripes, and the Yankee logo with its red, white and blue top hat hoisted on a bomber’s bat adorns all three walls on a pennant, banner and poster, but the Yankees are not the only sports team dear to Rossi’s heart.

Once a Knight always a Knight, and Rossi is among that fraternity who have donned black and red. It may have been more than four decades ago, but Rossi follows his alma mater the way Sooners stick with Oklahoma and Tigers hold tight to Clemson.

So it’s no surprise that one afternoon years ago, with a few loyal Le Roy fans in the shop, the talk soon turned to the Oatkan Knights and their new rookie coach.

He came from Livonia. This was the kid’s first head coaching job. Could he handle it? What did he know about football? Could he motivate the kids? Was he tough enough? Would he deliver championships?

The way Jim Rudgers remembers it, he was sitting in that barber chair with this banter going about. He happened to know the new head coach, and as a former Knight and an up-and-coming coach himself, he thought maybe the new guy was getting a bum rap.

“They were complaining about this new, young football coach,” Rudgers recalled. “Some of them said he didn’t know what he was doing. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Brian Moran walking down Mill Street. Now, I still have a towel wrapped around my neck, but I get out of the seat and go out and grab him. I knew Brian because his dad used to sell sporting equipment. I say, ‘Brian, come on in here, these guys don’t think you know what you’re doing.’ ”

Moran, tall, sandy-haired and built like a defensive end, entered the shop and Rudgers said, “Come on guys, here he is. Tell him he’s an idiot and that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. They were like, ‘uh, uh, uh.’ ”

Rudgers thinks that 26 years later, after more than 200 wins, 13 Section V titles and a state championship, the record has been set straight.

Brian Moran knows what he’s doing.

Development of a coach
There wasn’t a time in Brian Moran’s life that he wasn’t passionate about sports. With two older brothers, he had plenty of opportunity to play, compete and try to keep up. Football, basketball, baseball were all staples of young Brian’s life.

After high school, Moran attended Bridgton Academy in Maine, with its motto, “The Year that Makes a Difference.” It was a chance to continue his athletic pursuits in football and baseball as well as prepare for the rigors of college.

Though a prep academy, the football program exposed Brian to some top-notch competition. In an eight-game schedule, Bridgton played the freshman teams from the University of Boston, Umass and Norwich.

In 1983, he entered the University at Cortland as a physical education major. He also earned his teaching degree.

He played football all four years at Cortland, knowing that when his collegiate career was over, he wanted to coach high school kids.

“I really enjoyed being around athletics,” Moran said. “I really did. My career goal was to be a coach and in education just because I enjoyed being around that atmosphere so much.”

His first job out of college was teaching at St. Joe’s in Penfield, then he got a call from the University of Rochester to be an assistant under U of R’s legendary Pat Stark.

The next three years, he worked as an assistant coach at Livonia, his alma mater. In his third year, he was the head coach for JV.

His next job was as a driving education instructor at Wayland-Cohocton, where he also coached baseball.

Then in the Fall of 1989, just weeks before the school year was to start, he heard Le Roy was looking for a new head coach. He got an interview, then a second interview, then he was hired as head coach and athletic director.

“I grew up in a community similar to Le Roy and I knew the reputation Le Roy had as a football community,” Moran said. “It’s a privilege to coach, but as I said, I’m very lucky to have been hired and given the opportunity to coach in Le Roy.”

Talk with anybody about Le Roy football and sooner, always sooner rather than later, the word “tough” is dropped into the conversation.

To play Le Roy football, you’ve got to be tough.

It’s not enough to run fast, throw lasers down the field or stand tall and strong on the line. You’ve got to be tough.

Football is a mental and emotional game, and physical ability will only get a player so far.

If the players need to be tough, the coaches need to be tougher.

“We have high expectations for our football team,” Rossi said.

The skepticism Rossi’s customers felt that autumn day in 1989 was real, but it was nothing personal. Nobody knew anything about Brian Moran. Here was this young guy coming into the community to coach their football team and his only prior experience was as an assistant and a head JV coach.

Was he tough enough?

“When you come into a program like this that has always pretty much been successful,” Rossi said, “and you’re a new guy and nobody knows a lot about you, there’s going to be apprehension as to whether he can handle the situation.”

Moran was replacing Jim Laemlein, the coach who brought Le Roy its first sectional title and first 10-win season (1984, the last year in the sectional era ((and before there were state titles)) that Le Roy went undefeated).

“He had big shoes to fill coming in after a guy like Laemlein,” Rossi said.

Taking over a storied program
That first year, Moran says he was blessed to come into a program poised to win. The Knights went 8-2 in 1988, losing a sectional title game.

“I was very fortunate,” Moran said. “We had the nucleus of a good team, a team that lost by a touchdown the year before to Clyde-Savannah. It was a great situation to be in. We were 8-2 and we played Livonia in the sectional finals. It was bittersweet to coach for a title against my old school, but we were a pretty good football team in 1989.”

The 26-12 win brought home the first Section V trophy for a Moran-coached team.

Then Le Roy hit a rut, going 1-7 in 1990, then 4-4 in 91.

That ’91 team, though, is one Moran believes to this day could have won it all if they had back then the playoff format used today.

“That third year, I thought we had a great football team,” Moran said. “If they had let eight teams in (to the playoffs), that team would have won it all. That’s how good we got by the end of the season.”

As if to prove it, the Knights went 7-1-2 the next season and cinched Moran’s second Section V title.

Through Moran’s first six seasons, the Knights were 33-21-2 with three Section V titles.

There were few people left in Le Roy who questioned whether Moran could uphold the Oatkan Knights' tradition of winning football, but the best was yet to come.

Moran says, “we went on a little bit of a run.”

From 1995 through 2008, Le Roy did not suffer a losing season. The team’s record through the 13-season span was 136-20. There was a state championship in 1995, appearances in '96 and 2004, and 10 sectional titles. Le Roy has only played for a sectional title twice since, in 2012 and 2013, losing both championship games.

Developing champions
Winning a state championship is a big deal. There’s nothing easy about navigating through the post season. The waters are choppy for even very good football teams as they advance through each round.

The best teams are always much better than nearly all of their regular season opponents. You’re only going to lose to bad luck or to that one team you might meet during the year that is also on a championship romp through the league. When post season arrives, Class B teams are no longer piling up wins against Class C and D teams in league play and the C teams are no longer playing D teams.

The class system — based on school size — is used throughout New York State.

There are no playoffs to determine conference champions. The post season is strictly a matter of the best teams playing the top teams in each class. On any given Friday or Saturday, a top-seeded school can find its season terminated by a last second score.

(more after the jump)

The difference between winning and losing isn’t ruled by the action on the field. It’s a matter of players staying focused and motivated and coaches developing successful game plans.

As Moran often says, games are won and lost in practice the week before. The practice is based on the plan, and the plan is developed by the coach and his staff.

How much of Moran’s life is turned over to football during the season?

“All day, every day,” Moran said, “just ask my wife. I’m constantly watching film early in the week, trying to watch teams a week ahead. Then I start thinking about what we’re going to do offensively and defensively. Constantly. It’s not like I’m sitting down constantly and writing things down, and I’m not watching film constantly, but it’s a thorough process that really takes up your time. You really have to think to be successful.”

Linemen might refine their footwork, receivers their cuts, quarterbacks their time. Practice is about fine-tuning the skills needed in the game.

Teams learn the schemes and plays coaches think will work best against the coming opponent.

“One week at a time” is every successful team’s mantra.

One thing Moran excels at, according to former players, is motivation.

“It was about teamwork,” said Brian Fulmer, a senior tight end in 1995. “He was motivational. We all had buy-in. It was just the way he carried himself. Everybody just bought into teamwork.”

Fulmer skipped football his sophomore year to play in basketball tournaments, a decision he now says he regrets, even though he went on to play basketball at a Division I university, Cornell.

It’s a basketball memory that Fulmer used to illustrate Moran’s ability to motivate his players. There were a couple of game periods where Le Roy’s basketball coach was away and Moran was the substitute head coach.

Before one game, going over the game plan, Moran really got into Fulmer’s head.

“ ‘There’s no reason you shouldn’t dominate this entire game,’ ” Fulmer remembers Moran telling him. “He was like, ‘yeah, you’re going to go out and kill this guy.’ I thought, ‘yeah, you’re right.’ He knew how to push the right buttons. He cared about us.”

Family is also important to Head Coach Brian Moran.

He and his second wife, Wendy, married for 16 years together for 20, enjoy their home in a well-wooded lot near Nunda. He likes to tinker in the garage when he isn’t watching game film or playing golf.

His children are all grown. Brendon, 31, played for the Knights in 2001 and was part of the team that won the 100th game for Moran and was defensive player of the year for Section V. Casey, 29, also played for the Knights. Shane, 26, works for a landscaping company and attended Livonia, and his daughter, Kaitlin, 23, also attended Livonia and just earned her teaching degree.

Moran is also proud of his brothers. Tom is a State Supreme Court judge. Sean lives near Conesus Lake. Patrick lives in St. Louis and works for General Motors.

Perhaps the proudest person in the Moran family is the coach’s mother, who still attends most of her son’s games at age 82.

“She’s a big supporter of all of us,” Moran said.

1995
In the late Summer of 1995, it was starting to look like the unthinkable might happen: there would be no football season.

Mired in budget woes, the school board was considering drastic cuts in spending.

Coming off an 8-3 season that ended in a regional playoff loss, the players and coaches thought they might have a pretty good team, but they also wanted to play.

“The board was considering a real austerity budget,” Fulmer said. “We didn’t even know if we were going to have any sports that year. We had a great group of guys, a talented, talented group. A lot of us went on and played sports in college. A lot of us probably would have gone down the road and played at a different school if they cancelled the season.”

Players, parents, fans all packed a critical board meeting. The board heard the pleas to save sports and voted against the cuts.

“We promised the fans we will bring home a state championship,” said Adam Higgins, a member of the 1994 and 1995 teams. “If not for them, we would never have had a chance to play.”

Moran had no premonition of a state championship. The season, as they all do, unfolded one game, one week at a time. The way they should, in coachspeak.

“I always say weeks four, five and six are really crucial, because it gets to the point where if you’re not getting better, you’re almost getting worse,” Moran said. “If you don’t practice well, by the time you get the end, you may not have reached your peak. You want to get to that peak performance by the end of the season.”

Moran’s praise for the 1995 team: “They got better every week through very hard work. I like the way they practiced.”

Team chemistry was a big reason the team performed so well, Fulmer said. The players didn’t just play and practice together, they had meals to together, they hung out together and they supported each other.

They didn’t put their individual issues ahead of the team.

Higgins said Moran instilled the team-first attitude through hard work and discipline. It shows, he said, by the way Le Roy teams enter the field before before games. Two silent lines, like a military platoon, walking onto the field.

“Walk, don’t talk,” was the rule, Higgins said.

It was the same procession players are expected to take leaving the practice field, and after one hot August pre-season practice, when the team thought they were out of earshot of Moran, a couple of players started cutting up. The team — the whole team — spent an extended practice running laps.

“You do everything as a team,” Higgins said. “If one messes up, all mess up. He and Andrew (Paladino, defensive coordinator) just really instilled that in us and it showed.”

Higgins was the starting QB throughout his junior year, helping the team to a sectional title in 1994, and started the season at the top of the depth chart as the field general, but before the third game of the year — which turned out to be the only loss of the season, to archival Cal-Mum — Higgins lost his starting job to a sophomore.

“It was a big, traumatic event,” Fulmer said, but how Higgins handled it really set an example of team before self, he said.

“To his credit, he didn’t externally show a lot of emotion,” Fulmer said. “He was an awesome defensive player and he just went out and played great defense. I know he was hurting inside and I hurt for him, but he shut his mouth and went out and played great defense the rest of the year.”

It was a big deal, said Higgins, who is now a high school coach himself. He spent 10 years as an assistant at Letchworth and now coaches girls swimming. To this day, he counts Brian Moran as among his best friends. They talk frequently. He’s known Moran pretty much his entire life. His best friend from elementary school is the son of Moran’s wife, Wendy.

“He brought me into his office and I could tell he was upset,” Higgins recalled of the meeting where he learned he had lost the starting QB job. “It was hard for him to tell me. I looked at him and said, ‘I’ll do whatever I can for this team.’ ”

Quarterback controversy settled, the Knights started to gel. They won their next six regular season games, then crushed East Rochester 19-0 for the Section V Class C title. They beat Eden 19-0 for the Far West Regional title, won 12-0 over Dogelville in the state qualifier and faced Saranac Lake for the state championship.

The promise to the fans who saved the team was fulfilled by a final score of 37-27.

Love
The 2014 season, Moran’s 26th and last as head coach, has been another great run for the Oatkan Knights. All but one game has been a blowout, and that game, in the end, wasn’t really very close. It’s the year in which Moran became the fourth head coach in Section V history with 200 career wins.

After each victory, Moran gathers the team around them and shares the same message that makes these points.

“I’m proud of you.”

“Get your rest, stay hydrated.”

“We have another game next week. Stay focused. Come to practice Monday ready to work.”

“Enjoy the victory, but don’t do anything stupid.”

“Do the right thing in school.”

“I love you guys.”

The precise words may change each week, but the message remains consistent.

The idea that Moran loves the kids on his team isn’t just morale-building rhetoric. It’s not hokum to con a bunch of kids into conformity. Moran gets a little misty eyed when he talks about his players, and the lifelong bonds that develop, the mutual loyalty, the commitment and devotion that develops, are strong evidence that Moran’s heart is what leads his head.

Moran doesn’t take a lot of credit for his 201 wins. He credits the kids and the community, but it’s not even the most important thing, he says.

“This is high school athletics,” Moran said. “The wins are nice, but we need to be sure we’re teaching them the things they’ll need to know to be successful in life.”

The great thing about athletics is it teaches kids that discipline and success go hand-in-hand. The lessons that lead to winning championships also carry over into careers and families.

More important to Moran than trophies are the kids who come back to the school year after year and can proudly recite for him their successes in life.

At the start of this season, five members of the 1995 championship team came to a pep rally at the school, some flying from as far away as Minnesota and Texas, to cheer on and encourage the 2014 team.

To a man, they shared how much they learned from Moran and how playing for him changed their lives.

“The things I learned from coach that helped me is don’t cut corners in your work,” Fulmer said. “It’s all about teamwork. Show respect. Don’t ever disrespect somebody in public. Certainly, my Dad’s a big influence, too, but that’s the kind of stuff I learned with Coach Moran. He showed me the best example of teamwork I’ve ever been a part of and that carries with me to this day.”

Hundreds of kids have passed through Moran’s programs at Le Roy — not just football, and not just winning teams — and many can tell similar stories.

Tim Spezzano was part of the 1-7 squad in 1990. He later coached at Le Roy, starting with seventh-graders and eventually working four years as head basketball coach for boys varsity. He now works for Tompkins Insurance and holds Moran in the highest regard.

“He was always very well prepared in his approach to coaching and that’s certainly something I take from him,” Spezzano said. “One of the things he preached at great length is do the little things well. If you do the little things well, big things will happen for you. Generally, I think of myself as somebody who is properly prepared. I think a large part of why people are successful is they are prepared.”

Life lessons, thought, don’t come wrapped in brightly colored paper with pretty bows tied on top. They come through hard work, persistence and reinforcement.

In other words, the teacher dolling out the gifts needs a firm hand and a loud mouth.

Moran knows how to get in a kid’s face when he needs to.

“What’s most important to Brian is what happens to these kids 10 years from now,” said defensive coordinator Jim Bonacquisti. “Are they better men, are they better husbands, are they successful? That all comes from Brian demanding the best from them. It’s not a touchy-feely world. It’s not about everybody getting ribbons, everybody getting an award. It’s about making yourself better.”

The one thing, though, you’ll never see Brian Moran do, says Bonacquisti, is embarrass a kid during a game or in front of his parents.

“I can recall once when I got after a kid during a game,” Bonacquisti said. “The kid was a sophomore, and Brian turned me and said, ‘we’re going to need this kid the next two years. Let’s not beat this kid down. Stay positive.’ That’s what he always reiterated, ’stay positive.’ "

Andrew Paladino, the defensive coordinator who was coaching at Le Roy five years before Moran became head coach, will also retire at the end of this season. He said Moran has always treated him well and given him the freedom to run his own squad.

Paladino said he’s sure the love and appreciation players have for Moran is genuine, honest and hard won.

“He can be a hard-ass sometimes, but he truly likes the kids and he cares about the kids,” Paladino said. “A lot of people don’t understand that, a lot of times it’s tough love but when it’s all said and done I think the kids appreciate it.”

They do, said both former team members Brian Fulmer and Adam Higgins.

Fulmer, who played Division I basketball, said Moran was the best coach he ever played for at any level.

“I won Athlete of the Year my senior year and Brian spoke at the awards ceremony,” Fulmer said. “He spoke about how hard I worked and how I was always the first guy on the field and the last guy off the field. He got a little emotional about it. I never forgot how he got a little emotional about what I did. It was the coolest moment in my life. I’d run through a wall for that guy.”

It was also the moment that an award was handed out that is a deeply imprinted memory of Moran for Higgins as well.

“I was named Best Defensive Player for the Section V championship and I was standing right next to coach when they announced the award,” said Higgins, the kid who earlier that year lost his starting QB job to a sophomore. “He looked right at me and said, ‘I was hoping and praying that you would win that award.’ That was just the bond we had.”

Moran doesn’t remember the wins nearly as much as he remembers the individual players and their big moments: Fulmer knocking down a pass in the end zone during the championship game; Justin Ausher with a key two-point conversion in that game, beating people to the goal line; Joe Miller in a title game against East Rochester running a fullback trap 53 yards for a touchdown; Tony Mason with a seven-yard run in another game against East Rochester that combined with a PAT by Kevin Price gave Le Roy a 7-6 victory.

“There are so many great memories of kids making plays that even surprised me sometimes at how well they performed,” Moran said.

The coach also remembers the non-starters, the kids who just wanted to be part of the team. He remembers the kid with Asperger's syndrome who made the team and the kid with autism who became the team manager for a couple of years.

Moran has always had a soft spot for the kids who might have some disadvantage, Bonacquisti said, whether it’s something like Asperger's or autism, or they just don’t have any money or a lot of social grace.

That comes from being picked on as a kid. Moran said he had two older brothers who always gave him a hard time.

“That’s the way life was then,” Moran said. “Nobody worried about bullying. I was always trying to keep up with them.

Every kid deserves a chance to succeed, Moran said.

“When you look at our kids here today, you don’t know where they come from sometimes,” Moran said. “You don’t know what their home life is, and really, when they come to school, it might be the brightest part of their day.”

Working with the kids who might have disadvantages is also a powerful lesson for the rest of the kids, Moran said.

“It helps them understand the issues in society,” Moran said. “Not everybody is born perfect. Some kids struggle with whatever they have. I have a granddaughter who is very handicapped and it’s tough. I want these kids to understand that they have a lot of benefits that they don’t even think about.”

The fact Moran is so inclusive is part of the reason the football program has been so successful, Spezzano said.

“It’s evident in the numbers of participants in the program,” Spezzano said. “Look at the number of the kids on the sideline. “That doesn’t happen if the focus is only on the top 11 or top 12 players.”

Yeah, Moran may be a hard-ass at times, practices may be rough, but he thinks the community and the parents understand what the larger goals are, and that it isn’t necessarily to win championships. Winning is something that is an outcome of turning boys into men.

“I’m fortunate to work in this community,” Moran said. “I get after our kids pretty good sometimes, and in other places, I don’t think they would be as accepting as we are now. When you work in a place for 26 years, I think people understand you have their kids' best interest at heart.”

November 2, 2014 - 5:45pm
posted by Rick D. Franclemont in football, youth, sports, alexander.

The Tri-Town Varsity Trojans football team defeated the Oakfield/Elba Titans yesterday 39-37 to claim the Niagara Orleans Football Association championship. This was the Trojans first championship team in 36 years.

November 2, 2014 - 12:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, elba, Oakfield, youth sports.

The Oakfield/Elba Titans in the Mini Division won their league's championship today, beating Albion 27-19.

Photo and info provided by Kevin Zito.

November 2, 2014 - 10:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, football, sports, high school sports, Batavia HS.

By all rights, at the end of the first half Saturday night, Batavia should have been down to Penn Yan by a score more along the lines of 28-7.

The game should have been over in every manner except the time clock.

Three turnovers, a trio of 15-yard penalties, enemy receivers allowed to roam free and the repeated gifts of good field position didn't doom the Batavia effort.

It would be fair to say the Mustangs didn't cash in on all of these gold-plated errors, but that would be only half the story.

The Blue Devils hung tough. The line stepped up and stopped the run. Rushers put enough pressure on the passing game that completions were hard to come by.

With two minutes left in the first half, instead being down 20 or 28 to 7, Batavia trailed by only five points, 12-7.

Then the magic happened.

Greg Mruczek engineered a 70-yard drive in less than two minutes that ended with a five-yard pass in the end zone to a wide open -- open as in "alone on a Kansas prairie" open -- Malachi Chenault.

A two-point conversion later and Batavia headed into the locker room with a 15-12 lead and a level of confidence that makes Floyd Mayweather look shy.

"That was huge," said Head Coach Brennan Briggs. "I would like to say that was the game right there because that just gave us the momentum to get back into it. I think if we'd gone into half time down, I think our kids really would have been in a little bit of a hole. But they've been grinding and fighting all year and that's what they did."

Briggs said he went into the locker room at half and told the team it was their game to lose.

He told them, he said, " 'we've done everything we could do wrong and we're still leading this game by three points. That says something.' "

"I said," he added, " 'we've got 24 minutes left. All the time, all the effort you've put in come down to these final 24 minutes. Do you guys want to pack it in or do you guys want to go out and dominate like we can?' "

Batavia scored 20 unanswered points in the second half and never really allowed the Mustangs to get a drive going. The win, in the end, was a blowout, 35-12.

The unsung heroes of this semi-final game -- as they often are in football -- are the offensive and defensive lines. 

Against a team that featured two heavyweights tipping the scales at more than 320 pounds each, and with a degree of athleticism, the Batavia line on both sides of the ball simply outplayed the other team's big men.

The Blue Devils feature two young men up front who are pretty hefty themselves. Seniors Gunner Rapone and Devon Koepp, who are 6' 4", 260 pounds, and 6' 3", 265 pounds.

Rapone said the men up front for Batavia are not intimidated by anybody.

"We've faced big kids before," Rapone said. "An example is Bath. Bath has a lot of big guys. We knew what we were in for. We've been practicing all week about moving our feet and driving guys down the field and opening holes up for our backs and that's what we did the second half."

One of the beneficiaries of this offensive line largess was Anthony Gallo, a quick, slashing back with a knack for making defensive players miss.

"The linemen were making huge holes and I have good vision," said Gallo, who gained 110 yards on 14 carries. "I just see where I've gotta go and I just run."

It was another big game for junior QB Greg Mruczek, who was six for 13 for 161 yards, tossing three TDs and scoring one himself on the ground.

"Going into halftime, we thought we had the better team, you know," Mruczek said. "We came out and just played tough, despite the weather conditions. We've both got to play in it so you've got to keep playing tough. We thought we did a good job coming out in the second half and just playing hard."

If game balls were given out, surely one went to Jerrett Laskett, who had a 40-yard TD reception, but more importantly, snagged two key interceptions, including the pick just before the two-minute mark of the first half that set up Batavia's game-winning scoring drive.

It was Laskett's first game ever at corner back. 

"He did an unbelievable job," Briggs said. "You know, he's come a long ways this year and I can't say just how proud I am of the kid. We just put him at defensive back this week and he gets two picks."

Chenault had two receptions for 38 yards and the TD. Dominick Mogavero had 21 rushes for 84 yards and a TD. Ryan Hogan had two catches for 50 yards. Trevor Rittersback and Koepp had five tackles each.

The win gives Batavia a shot at a sectional title for the first time since 1998. The Blue Devils haven't won a title since 1991, the program's only title since sectional play began.

This is a program that was going nowhere before Briggs took it over four years ago and Briggs and the players have talked all year about how nobody gives the team the respect of a potential champion, that winning wasn't part of the pre-season projections of pundits.

There's a sense now that those critics, whomever they are, are proven wrong.

"It's crazy," Mruczek said. "It's an amazing feeling. It just turns some heads, you know. I don't think anyone would have thought we'd be in the sectional finals this year, honestly. It's just an incredible feeling and we're all happy to be here right now." 

Mruczek gives a lot of the credit to Briggs.

"He worked very hard with us all off season, with lifting and passing with me and the receivers," Mruczek said. "He's put in a lot of time and effort. He deserves to be in this position."

For players like Rapone, who has been dreaming of being part of a winning Blue Devils program since at least middle school, said it's an unbelievable feeling to get to this point in the season.

"It's unreal to me, to be honest with you," Rapone said. "It's a strange feeling because everyone is so used to looking down on this program and it being this year, my final year, and a lot of our guys final year, and we have the opportunity that we have this year, is unreal and unbelievable."

There's another Rapone, Max, coming up the sports ranks in Batavia and Gunner thinks he and his teammates have set an example of hard work and dedication for the next generation.

"I hope Max and all of his teammates look up to what we are and want to strive to be what we have done and know they can do it," Rapone said. "I've got a good feeling they can do it."

Now the focus shifts to Livonia, as if that isn't where the focus has been all along.

The Blue Devils are 8-1. That one loss was handed to Batavia in the final seconds of a thunder-interrupted game opening week when Livonia managed a last-ditch touchdown.

Players and coaches all seem to think it was a game Batavia should have won, could have won, but didn't. Hardly a week has gone buy since where the loss to Livonia didn't figure in the conversation at some point.

It's the game that has fueled Batavia's resilience and swagger, two words Briggs has attached to his players all season.

"After losing to a good team like that, we knew we had a good team and we could compete this year for a sectional title," Mruczek said. "We came out with some confidence after that game. We almost beat Livonia, supposedly the top of Class B."

Now, as one player said, it's time for revenge. 

"We're happy we're getting a shot at the sectional title, but there's really nobody else our guys would want to have it against," Briggs said. "If you wrote up a storybook ending, you know, you really couldn't write it up any better than that."

Well, it's not quite a storybook ending. Not yet. A win against Livonia would be a storybook ending.

Go get 'em, boys.

Top Photo: Malachi Chenault.celebrates his first-half touchdown that proved the turning point of the game.

Jerrett Laskett with a key first half interception.

Jerrett Laskett with a TD reception. 

Anthony Gallo finding another big hole.

Trevor Sherwood with a long reception just ahead of the goal line, setting up another Batavia score in the second half.

Dominick Mogavero got most of his 84 rushing in the 4th quarter as the Blue Devils chewed up the clock and kept the Mustangs' offense off the field.

Mogavero gets a handle on Mustangs' QB Austin Fingar. Fingar pulled free and gained another four or five yards.

At times during the game, the icy rain and sleet came down heavy.

Fans weathered the chill and the damp.

Gunner Rapone after the win.

Post-game celebration.

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November 2, 2014 - 8:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, high school sports, Le Roy.

It was a game that was essentially over before it barely began.

Inside of the first four minutes, the Le Roy Oatkan Knights had a three-touchdown lead over Dansville in the Class C Section V semi-final game played at Webster Thomas.

Going into the second quarter, Le Roy was up 29-0 on its way to a 54-0 win and a chance to play for a Section V title Friday at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester.

"I just thought everybody played well today," Head Coach Brian Moran said. "They prepared well. There's no secret, you win games in practice and I thought our kids practiced extremely well top to bottom."

Mike McMullen and Tom Kelso helped lead the offensive attack. McMullen was eight for 12 passing for 124 yards and two TDs. Kelso rushed 15 times for 117 yards and three touchdowns.

Ryan McQuillen sparked the offensive onslaught with a 75-yard punt return after Dansville was stymied on its first drive to open the game. Less than two minutes later on the game clock, McQuillen struck again, hauling in a McMullen pass for a 32-yard touchdown.

"He just makes great plays," Moran said of McQuillen. "With his speed, it's obviously something you can't duplicate in practice. I don't think people realize how fast he really is, and he can scoot."

The game, of course, wasn't all about offense. The Knights held the #4 seed, a 5-3 team coming into the came, scoreless through four quarters. Dansville's star running back, a husky Evan Dieter, was held to 91 yards on 24 carries. Even the second team, entering the game in the third quarter, held Dansville down.

"That shows how good our coaching staff is," Moran said. "I think our assistant coaches did a great job in preperation and that's important. Sometimes you forget about them and I'm very proud of them, too."

Le Roy's opponent Friday (game time is 5 p.m.) will be Bath, who beat East Rochester 51-19.

"It wil be very tough," Moran said before Bath and ER faced off. "Any sectional final game is going to be a tough football game. Bath and East Rochester are great football teams with great traditions and we'll just have to prepare themselves for who comes on top."

It will be the 18th time a Moran-coached team played for a section title game in the past 26 seasons. Le Roy has won 14 of those games. (See correction below)

"We're feeling good about things right now," Kelso said. "We've just got to keep doing what we're doing."

It will be Kelso's third chance at a sectional title, and as he noted, he hasn't been there himself. The same could be said for several members of the Knights.

Moran said those previous disappointments have taught his team what it takes win a sectional title.

"I think the kids understand that you really have to get yourself focused," Moran said. "You can't just assume that you're going to walk in and everything will fall your way. You've got to prepare yourself through hard work and dedication so you can put yourself in a position with a chance to win a sectional title."

CORRECTION: This will be the 18th time a Moran-coached team has played for a sectional title. Moran's teams have won 13 times. The first sectional title was won 1984 when Jim Laemlein was head coach. The 14 titles won by Le Roy, according to Ed Henry, is a Section V record held along with Cal-Mum and Clyde-Savannah.  Clyde plays a title game today against Avon, giving the program a shot at its 15th title.

UPDATE: Clyde-Savannah lost to Avon, giving Le Roy a shot at becoming the sole record holder at 15 for sectional titles.

Top Photo: Mike Shepard and another Le Roy defender get their hands up to block a pass from Dansville's Matt Martuciello.

Kelso scoring Le Roy's second touchdown of the first quarter.

Kody Lamkin walloped Dansville's Gage Koch on a kickoff return in the first quarter.

Tom Kelso evades a tackle attempt.

Jake Henry with a reception. Henry caught three passes for 33 yards and a TD.

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November 1, 2014 - 7:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, football, sports, high school sports, Batavia HS.

The Batavia Blue Devils will get a chance to play for the school's first sectional title since 1991 in football next week after beating Penn Yan this evening, 35-12.

Above, Malachi Chenault in the end zone near the close of the first half. The score, making it 15-12, gave Batavia a lead it never relinquished.

The Blue Devils will face Livonia in the Class B final next week. Batavia's only defeat of the season came against Livonia on a last-second touchdown in the first game of the season.

We'll have complete coverage posted tomorrow.

November 1, 2014 - 3:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, high school sports, Le Roy.

Le Roy will play for a sectional title next week after beating Dansville in a semi-final today in Webster, 54-0.

Above, Tom Kelso crosses the goal line for an extra two points after the Oatkan Knights' second touchdown in the first quarter.

We'll have full game coverage posted sometime tomorrow. Now, it's time for Batavia's sectional semi-final game in Irondequoit.

October 26, 2014 - 8:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, high school sports, alexander.

Above are three pictures that illustrate the problem Alexander faced Saturday in its Class DD Section V semi-final playoff game against Avon in Honeoye Falls.

The problem's name is Joe Sotak, the 155-pound, 5'9" stick of butter who led the Avon offense to a tally of 26 points over four quarters of whack-a-mole.

When Sotak could be caught, he proved impossible to hold.

The senior QB was seven for 10 passing for 96 yards and a TD. He also rushed for 147 yards and two TDs on 22 carries.

In the sequence above, Sotak pumps but doesn't throw as Rick Amico and Derrick Busch appear to be closing in for the sack. Sotak glided a step or two forward, causing Amico and Busch to whiff, then lofted a pass just over the heads of Tristan Aldinger and Cody Trzecieski to where only Avon's Zack Loomis could catch it as he stood on the three-yard line. Loomis needed only turn and take a couple of steps into the end zone.

The Trojans managed to cross the goal line once all afternoon, and that score didn't come until the 4th quarter.

A bad snap prevented Alexander from putting at least three on the board in the first half.

Final, 26-7.

Alexander finishes with a 5-3 record while Avon advances to face Clyde-Savannah in the Class DD final next week.

"It wasn't the result we were expecting tonight," said Head Coach Tim Sawyer. "We had a good week of preparation; however, Avon controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage. Avon played physical and fast tonight.

"Our overall body of work for the season has been quite good," he added. "We won some big games along the way. I hate to see the seniors go, but they have left their foot print on this program over the past two years."

Just before the end of the half, with the Trojans down 12-0, an Alexander player got a hand on Joe Sotak and nearly dragged him to the ground, but Sotak spun away and turned what looked like a certain sack into about a 30-yard gain, all the way down to the two-yard line. The gain, however, was negated by a block to the back foul later in Sotak's run.

Tristan Aldinger scores for Alexander

Tristan Aldinger with the ball

Jared Browne at QB

Action early in the second half

Jared Browne with a pass

Avon's star running back Brandon Mynter was mostly contained by the Alexander defense.

Head Coach Tim Sawyer

Alexander HS grad Matt Szymaski, home on leave from the Marines, attended Saturday's game.

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October 25, 2014 - 10:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, high school sports, Le Roy.

As it has all season, Le Roy dominated its opponent in the first round of sectional play Friday night, beating Wayland-Cohocton 54-8.

Tom Kelso scored four touchdowns to help power the Oatkan Knights' offensive. Kelso carried the ball 11 times and gained 90 yards.

QB Mike McMullen was 7 for 13 for 85 yards and a TD.

Nate Flint carried the ball 12 times for 66 yards and a TD, and Anthony Natrigo had 12 carries for 63 yards and a TD.

Nick Egeling also scored on the ground, gaining 22 yards on three carries. 

Photos by David Boyce.

October 25, 2014 - 9:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, football, sports, high school sports, Batavia HS.

QB Greg Mruczek celebrated Batavia's first home sectional game in 18 years by tossing five touchdown passes, helping the Blue Devils crush Palmyra-Macedon 47-14.

It was pretty much a flawless performance for the junior who hit 13 receivers in 16 attempts for 227 yards without a reception.

Head Coach Brennan Briggs attributes Mruczek's success to hard work.

"He competes every single snap," Briggs said. "He wants to get better. It's not about any of the coaches or anything like that. It's about Greg wanting the ball in his hands and putting in that time and putting in that effort, asking to watch extra film, asking about the defensive coverages."

It helps that he's got some weapons on the wings and in the backfield.

Offensively, the Blue Devils feature three wideouts each with more than six feet in height -- Ryan Hogan, Malachi Chenault and James Cryer -- and speed with Dominick Mogavero, Jarrett Lasket and Anthony Gallo.

Mruczek said the height and athleticism of his receivers makes his job easier.

"I can throw with a lot of confidence with those guys," Mruczek said. "There's a lot of height. I can throw up the ball and they're great athletes. I've got a lot of confidence they're going to make plays."

Cryer led the receiving corps with four caches for 77 yards and three touchdowns.

Mogavero anchored the running game Friday night. He rushed for 124 yards on 24 carries.

"He's the back who has to get some tough yards, but he's also deceiving with the vision that he has," Briggs said. "He finds some holes and gets some big, hard yards for us. Defensively, his nose is always in there. He's a tough kid, a hard-nosed kid. That's how wrestlers are. He's a wrestler and that's how wrestlers are built. Not a big kid, but we have a lot of kids who aren't big or many not have a ton of mass to them, but their hearts are pretty strong."

The Blue Devils will need to call on those big hearts, hard work and focus as they take a big step in the recent history of Batavia's football program -- a second-round playoff game, something that hasn't happened in about 20 years.

Next Saturday they'll face #3 ranked Penn Yan (6-2), coming off a 24-0 victory over Waterloo. 

Even with a record of 7-1, Briggs said the Blue Devils have yet to put together a complete, well-balanced game, but they're getting closer.

That is what it will take to advance.

"We need to tighten up the defense," Briggs said. "We need to be able to run the ball and throw the ball on a given night. We can't just rely on just the passing game or just the running game. We still have to put that all together for us to take that next step."

Top Photo: Cryer with a TD reception.

Trevor Sherwood, another of Batavia's tall receivers, uses his height for a reception in the third quarter.

Malachi Chenault goes up for the ball to haul in a TD reception in the first quarter.

Cryer with a long run after a reception for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Danny Williams scores on a running play.

The Batavia Cheerleaders introduced a new routine at halftime.

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October 24, 2014 - 4:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, football, sports, high school sports.

The Batavia Blue Devils JV team recorded another undefeated season with a victory yesterday evening over Le Roy, 29-16.

The varsity squad opens post season play tonight with a quarterfinals sectional playoff at home against Pal-Mac (3-4). Batavia enters sectionals with a 6-1 record and the #2 seed in Class B.

Le Roy, the #1 ranked Class C team in the state, opens sectional play with a home game against Wayland-Cohocton (2-5).

Both games start at 7:30 p.m.

Tomorrow in Class D, #6 seed Elba/Byron-Bergen (4-3) travels to Bath (6-1) for a 5 p.m. game against the #3 seed.  

In Class DD tomorrow, Alexander (5-2 and the #2 seed) plays Avon (5-2 and the #3 seed). The game is in Honeoye Falls at 4 p.m.

Reader submitted photo.

October 18, 2014 - 11:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, elba, high school sports, alexander, byron-bergen.

Before facing off against Elba/Byron-Bergen, Alexander's Head Coach Tim Sawyer offered an assessment of what it would take the Trojans to beat the Lancers.

"We need 48 minutes of perfect football," he said.

After the game, Sawyer said his team got pretty close.

"I feel like we get maximum effort out of our boys, a good effort, but we still continue to make some mistakes," Sawyer said. "Today we played a pretty complete game. I'd say 42, 44 minutes of pretty good football."

The result was a 21-0 win, giving Alexander a 5-2 record on the season and carrying them into sectional play on a four-game win streak.

Pre-game, the meeting of the two 4 and 2 Genesee Region rivals promised to be a close battle, and for the first 11 minutes of play, that's exactly what it was. But as the scoreless first quarter drew to a close, LB Derrick Busch cut in front of a Lancers receiver to snag a Garrett Chapell pass and dash 28 yards unimpeded for the score.

"That gave us the momentum that carried us through the game," said senior Tyler Laird.

In the second quarter, RB Tristan Aldinger scored on a 44-yard run and RB Jacob Wozniak scored on a 50-yard run.

"Running up the middle, my fullback, Al Hadsall, had a really good block on the inside, so I broke it off on the outside of him and the whole team really put it together on that play and helped me score," Wozniak said.

Sawyer said he knew coming into the game that the Lancers feature a strong, aggressive defense, and he came prepared.

Six different players took snaps and four backs took turns taking handoffs.

"We wanted to use our speed early to get out wide and get them to spread and they did," Sawyer said. "Then we started running zone run up the middle, and you guys saw the game kind of open up for us."

Wozniak and Aldinger shouldered most of the load out of the backfield. Wozniak had 23 carries for 108 yards and the TD, and Aldinger had 128 yards and a TD on 14 carries.

Elba/BB isn't an easy team to shut down offensively. It's a good team with Chapell, John Hochmuth and Steele Truax to power the scoring.

Yet, they were shutout.

"I give all the credit to (Defensive Coach Matt) McCracken," Sawyer said. "I think he's under 30, but he's (the) mastermind."

Laird said the defensive line really sparked the performance.

"Our guys were working hard," Laird said. "Our D-line has got a push and they were opening up the lanes for me to make tackles. That goes for me and the other linebackers Cody Trzecieski and Jake Wozniak. The linemen really opened it up for us."

This is the second year the Trojans have run a three-man front on defense, and it's kind of a secret weapon, Sawyer said.

"I think that confuses our opponents a bit and we're getting pretty good at it," Sawyer said.

On Saturday, Alexander travels to Honeoye Falls for a first-round sectional game against Avon.

Last year the Trojans made it all the way to Section V finals. This year's team is a very different kind of team, with more speed and not as much power, but Laird said that's the only difference between each year's teams.

This year's team is just as ready to challenge for a title.

"It was rough at the beginning of the year trying to adjust to a new scheme, but these kids are working just as hard as that team did last year and they just keep getting better every single week," Laird said. "It's basically the same atmosphere as last year. Five and one in the GR and I'm excited. It feels great."

Top photo: Jacob Wozniak breaks free for Alexander's third, and final touchdown -- a 50-yard run.

Elba/BB's Mike Shanley comes close to blocking Zach Shilvock second of three extra points.

Steele Truax dives for a few extra yards in the third quarter.

Tristan Aldinger comes close to a third-quarter pass interception.

Samuel Browne picking up yardage in the third quarter.

Mike Shanley on a run in the third quarter.

UPDATE: Rick Franclemont also took pictures of the game. You can view them here.

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October 18, 2014 - 9:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, high school sports.

C.G. Finney 37, Pembroke 18. Pembroke finishes the season 0-7. No stats available. Photos from the Pembroke game by Rick Franclemont.

Notre Dame 40, Holley 13. Notre Dame scored 20 points in the second quarter to pretty much put the game away before the half. Joe Zickl was six of nine passing for 103 yards and two TDs. Peter Daversa rushed for 53 yards on 11 attempts. C.J. Suozzi gained 42 yards and scored on seven carries. Jack Sutherland had two TDs in eight carries for 42 yards. Josh Johnson had two receptions for 27 yards, including a TD. Luca Zambito had a six-yard TD reception. For Pembroke, Nick Passarell was eight for 21 passing for 87 yards. He was intercepted twice. Colin Papaj rushed for 87 yards on six carries. Touchdowns were scored by Nick Passarell, who had 43 yards on the ground, and Glenn Robb.

Alexander 21, Elba/Byron-Bergen 0. Game store coming.

October 18, 2014 - 12:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, football, sports, high school sports.

Batavia 49, Bath-Haverling 30. It was a seesaw battle through three quarters, and then Batavia put the game away with 14 unanswered points to close out the game. It was a big night for Anthony Gallo, who posted 265 all-purpose yards and scored five touchdowns. Malachi Chenault had four receptions for 128 yards and a TD. Jarrett Lasket had seven receptions for 94 yards, including a two-point conversion catch. Dominick Mogavero had 12 carries for 65 yards and a TD. Greg Mruczek was 18-27, 306 yards and two touchdowns. Trevor Rittersback had 10 tackles; James Cryer -- seven; Adonis Davis -- seven; and Noah Dobbertin had a sack and an interception. Bath came into the game undefeated.

Attica 49, Oakfield-Alabama 32. Alan Chatt was 21 for 52 passing for 316 yards and three touchdowns. He had one interception. Reice Woodward had seven receptions for 134 yards; Sal Schwable, seven for 68 yards and a TD; Ryan Emery four for 15 yards and a TD; and Trent Stack, three for 34 yards and a TD. Jon Harris had eight tackles and Jake Valletta and Devin Schroeder had six each.

Pembroke, Notre Dame, Elba/Byron-Bergen and Alexander all play this afternoon.

For coverage of the Le Roy game and Coach Brian Moran's 200th win, click here.

October 18, 2014 - 8:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, Le Roy, High School Football.

Coach Brian Moran will tell you, he feels fortunate to run a football program in a place like Le Roy, where the kids are tough, the community cares and parents understand he always has the best interest of their children at heart, even when he's trying to instill in them the discipline necessary to win at football and win at life.

He doesn't take credit for his career milestone of 200 wins. He shares it.

"It really is just a credit to our coaching staff," Moran said, after an emotional meeting with his team near the western end zone of the Perry football field following Le Roy's 45-6 win over the Yellowjackets. "I'm proud of everybody who's worked with us, our community, our school. You know, you don't get to 200 by yourself. We had great people along they way and I really appreciate what they've done for our program."

Moran is the fourth coach in Section V history to reach 200 wins, and only the second to get all 200 wins with the same school.

Gene MastIn, who retired after the 2012 season, is the Section V record holder at 236, and all his wins came at Hornell. Earlier this year, Fairport's Dave Whitcomb, who has coached five different teams, got his 200th win. Rounding out the 200 win club is Don SantIni, with 206 victories, including 50 notched in the years he coached Le Roy.

Moran's milestone victory was helped along Friday night by some of the same names who have carried the team all year. Mike McMullen, Ryan McQuillen, Tom Kelso, Nick Egeling and Jon Pierce, who all had big nights to help propel Le Roy to a rout of a young, but talented Perry team.

McMullen, who went over 3,000 yards passing for his career and set a new school record, said he was proud to be part of Moran's milestone victory.

"It feels great," McMullen said. "I've been with him four years. I can't put it in words right now. It's just awesome. I know it means a lot to him. It means a lot to everyone around here. Le Roy football. Coach Moran. You know, everyone knows who we are because of coach."

The Yellowjackets are a team with a couple of quick strike weapons in QB Andrew Hollister and RB Wisezear Pries, both juniors, so Moran came into the game knowing the Oatkan Knights couldn't afford to let Perry score early. (Hollister ended the season with more than 1,000 yards rushing.)

On Perry's first drive, a fumble on the Perry side of the field helped bat away that concern early. Two plays after Egeling recovered the fumble on defense, he was back to carry the ball 14 yards for a touchdown, giving Le Roy a quick 7-0 lead.

It was all Le Roy the rest of the half and the Knights built up a 42-0 lead by intermission. The scoring bonanza included a pair of TD passes from McMullen to the speedy McQuillen of 40 yards and 62 yards.

McMullen finished 5 for 5 passing for 138 yards and three TD.  

Through seven regular season games, McMullen did not throw a single interception and Le Roy has lost only one fumble all season, for a +16 turnover ratio.

Moran said he's proud of how McMullen has developed as a team leader.

"Obviously, from where he was three years ago to where he is today, I believe at the start of the season, he was 16-4, so add it up, put another 7 on that, so I think that's pretty good," Moran said. "That says a lot about him as a leader of our program."

Kelso had 11 carries for 74 yards. Kelso also had two catches for 23 yards. Pierce carried the ball twice for 72 yards and a TD. Egling, three carries for 32 yards and a TD, plus a 13-yard reception for a touchdown. 

Le Roy is the top-ranked Class C team in the state, but needed some help to go into sectional play as the #1 seed, which they got from the Batavia Blue Devils, who beat Bath in Bath 49-30.

While a lot of folks on the sideline were keeping up with the score in Batavia's seesaw battle with Bath, Moran downplayed the importance of seeding after the game. He said a team has to focus on the opponent ahead of it, whoever that might be.

"You get yourself focused and you really have to be ready to play next Friday night, because if you don't play well, you go home," Moran said. "I think that's something we'll really work on all week and get ourselves ready that way."

Pierce scores in the third quarter.

Hollister on his run that put him over 1,000 yards for the season.

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October 17, 2014 - 9:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, Le Roy.

With Le Roy's 45 to 6 win over Perry minutes ago, Brian Moran became the fourth head coach in Section V history to notch 200 victories in his career.

Rather than celebrate the milestone in Perry, the players and coach are heading back to Hartwood Park to commemorate the accomplishment.

The entire community is invited to the celebration.

UPDATE: Photo added of Coach Moran back at Hartwood Park being honored for his 200th win.  

October 11, 2014 - 11:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Attica, football, sports, high school sports, Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish of 2014 may not be the champion caliber squad of recent seasons, but Notre Dame is still the team other teams love to beat.

Today's proof: Fresh off its fifth touchdown through the middle of the third quarter, with the score 33-7, the Attica Blue Devils chose to squib and onside kick.

"It's a big rivalry," said Attica Head Coach Rob Cusmano.m"It's been a rivalry for years with Attica and Notre Dame. Last year was for the league title, and this year, they've got a couple of losses, but still, you throw those records right out the window and you just keep going after it."

It was a hard fought game, even when Attica seemed to have it well in hand. Coaches on both benches tried constantly to get referees to see things their way, pointing out holds, clips and chop blocks, and disclaiming guilt when flags were thrown against their own players.

It got so hot at one point, Attica was flagged for a 15-yard penalty.

The first quarter gave little indication of where this game was going, ending at a 0-0 tie.

Cusmano said the Blue Devils made some adjustments, which enabled them to pull away from ND.

"We couldn't run between the tackles, so we needed to get outside," Cusmano said. "We got outside a few times and that made the difference."

With the score 14-0 and two minutes left in the half, Notre Dame Head Coach Rick Mancuso decided to go to the air in the hopes of a quick score before intermission.

QB Joe Zickl completed a couple of passes. There was the ember of a drive glowing when he tried to hit a receiver just beyond the line of scrimmage. The receiver reached high and tipped the ball. It fell into the hands of Alex Piechocki, who sprinted to the end zone, giving Attica a 21-0 lead.

Another drive early in the second half was reversed into a Blue Devils score on a touch down.

Cusmano gave credit to scouting and film study for the picks.

"We knew their routes and our guys did a great job stepping in front of the ball and a couple of those went for touchdowns, and I attribute that to them watching a lot of film and doing their homework," Cusmano said.

Receiver Levi Snyder said the win, after a slow start, showed the team's character.

"We had to fight a little adversity at first," Snyder said. "We came in here, got a little rattled, but stuck together as a team and stuck it out. We got the win. That's all that's important right now."

Senior Derek Walker said it was exciting, a big deal to beat the Irish.

"It's huge," he said, "because nobody really likes Notre Dame."

The victory clinched the Genesee Region title for Attica, who will take a 6-0 record into next week's game against Oakfield-Alabama (3-3).

The Blue Devils said they didn't want to look past next week's game, but Cusmano conceded, the Class C post-season is going to be tough.

First week matchups haven't been determined yet, but Bath, Le Roy and Attica have all secured spots in sectionals. The fourth team in the playoffs could be Dansville, East Rochester or Elba/Byron-Bergen.

"It's very, very tough," Cusmano said. "I saw Le Roy last night and they're a very tough team and Bath is a good ball team, plus you throw Dansville in there, throw East Rochester in there, it's a very, very, very good class."

Even so, Cusmano is hardly throwing in the towel.

"We're getting healthier," Cusmano said. "One game at a time. We're thinking Oakfield. But I like our shot."

For Attica, Damian Marchetti was eight for 13 passing for 80 yards. He had eight carries for 74 yards and a TD. He also kicked five PATs. Jake Strzelec rushed for 89 yards on 25 carries and scored twice. Derek Walker had four receptions for 48 yards and a TD. Besides the interception return for a touchdown, Alex Piechocki also rushed for a score. Kyle Zawadzki had an interception return for a TD. Levi Snyder had two interceptions.

For Notre Dame, Joe Zickl was 15 for 31 passing for 159 yards and two TD. He was picked six times. On the ground, only Spencer Misiak had positive yardage, with one yard gained on one carry. C.J. Suozzi caught five passes for 45 yards. Josh Johnson had two TD receptions and gained 37 yards. Casey Midwick had four receptions for 31 yards. Joe Zickl had 10 tackles. Jack Sutherland, six. Peter Daversa had a sack.

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October 11, 2014 - 12:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, high school sports.

Alexander 17, Pembroke, 6. Pembroke held close through the first 24 minutes of football, trailing by only a point, 7-6 at the half. Trojans running back Jacob Wozniak gained 208 yards on 28 plays and scored a TD. Tristan Aldinger had 10 carries for 24 yds and a TD. Kicker Zach Shilvock was perfect again on PATs at 2 for 2 and he hit a 36-yard field goal in the fourth quarter after having missed a 48-yard fielder earlier in the game. Defensively, Alexander had two interceptions, one by Cody Trzecieski and one Aldinger. Derrick Busch led the Trojans in tackles with seven and a sack.  Dustin Schmeider had seven tackles and one fumble recovery. Wozniak had six tackles and a sack. 

Oakfield-Alabama 54, Holley, 19. Alan Catt was eight for 12 and 230 yards passing, connecting on three TDs for Oakfield-Alabama. Ryan Emery rushed six times for 137 yards and two TDs. Reice Woodward had five receptions for 168 yards and three TDs. Jake Velletta had eight tackles and a sack, Casey Arnold, seven tackles, Woodward an interception and Sal Schwable returned a fumble recovery 60 yards for a touchdown.

Elba/Byron-Bergen 16, Cardinal O'Hara, 7. In the first varsity football came ever played on the campus of Byron-Bergen, the Elba/Byron-Bergen Lancers benefitted from the 94 yards rushing of Steele Truax, who also had 15 tackles and a sack.

Batavia 52, Wayland-Cohocton, 0. On homecoming night, the Blue Devils trounced Wayland-Cohocton. Greg Mruczek was  nine for 10 for 124 yds and two touchdowns. He also carried one in for a score. Anthony Gallo had 145 all-purpose yards and two TDs. Ahdeosun Aiken rushed nine times for, 66 yards and a TD. Dominick Mogavero had six carries for 105 yards and two TDs. Jarrett Laskett scored a TD as part of a three-reception night for 18 yards. Trevor Rittersback had seven tackles.

Photos by Rick Franclemont. For more, click here.

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