It was an afternoon that brought back a flood of memories from the best season of their lives.
On Tuesday afternoon, coaches and players from the Canisius High School football team received their state championship rings during a special ceremony in Mayor Byron Brown’s office at Buffalo City Hall.
The Crusaders were being recognized for winning the 2016 New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association Class A championship.
Defeating Cardinal Hayes (Bronx) 50-44 in the title game that was played on Dec.4, the Crusaders won their second state title in three seasons.
“It pretty much just makes it feel real again,” co-captain Mason Hoose said after the team posed for a photo on the steps of City Hall.
“Because you take so much time off of playing football. It’s not like you forget about it. You just miss it so much that you’re kinda glad to be reunited with the team again.”
Falling in the state semifinals last season the Crusaders returned to training camp in August a focused group with dreams of returning to states. More importantly the returned with the work ethic and drive to make those dreams come to fruition.
“It takes a lot of hard work. Championships are never by accident,” said Canisius head football coach Rich Robbins.
“So for Mayor Brown to have us down to City Hall today and present the kids with their rings it’s a memory they’ll take with them for a lifetime.”
Mayor Brown’s office was packed with family members and Canisius High School administrative people, as well as several City Hall employees caught up in the excitement of a local team bringing a state championship back home.
“On behalf of Buffalo and the entire Western New York region I want to congratulate the coaching staff and the team on winning the 2016 Monsignor Martin and New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association championships,” Mayor Brown said in his opening statement.
“That’s quite an accomplishment. Let’s give them a hand.”
As he continued the Mayor made a minor slip up as he referred to the team as Canisius “College” but his words of praise were genuine as he spoke of the pride that everyone should feel for what Canisius High School accomplished and how they represented WNY on their journey to becoming state champions.
Along with opening remarks from Mayor Brown, the ceremony included a speech from Coach Robbins, who thanked those who attended the event and supported the team. Robbins also congratulated his players and then called each student-athlete up to the podium one at a time to receive their ring.
For Mayor Brown, the afternoon was not only about honoring the coaches and young men of the Canisius football program for a fine season, but to also hopefully inspire younger athletes to pursue their dreams as student-athletes.
“This is a great day for Buffalo and Western New York to recognize the student-athletes at Canisius High School for winning the football championship,” Mayor Brown said, “but also to recognize them as students and their accomplishments as student-athletes. We always have to encourage, support and celebrate our young people. And I’m very pleased to have that opportunity today as the Mayor of the City of Buffalo.”
More than just creating great memories and great football players, Robbins ultimate goal is to make sure every young man walks away from the football program the best person he can possibly be.
“That’s what’s so great about being down here and being recognized today,” he said. “These guys are tremendous athletes, obviously. Winning a state championship you’d better be. But they’re also tremendous young men. Great students. They do a lot of work in the community. That’s what we’re trying to do at Canisius. We’re trying to train men. Trying to train good husbands, good fathers, good brothers. Guys that are going to go out beyond football and be successful in life.”
“I know that we’re all humbled that we were honored by the Mayor,” said Mason Hoose. “We couldn’t be anymore grateful for everyone who has gotten us to this point in our lives.”