WNY Athletics

Section VI Football Media Day

On Tuesday morning ten football teams vying for Section VI Class titles met up at One Bills Drive for their annual media day. Chairman Ken Stoldt greeted all of the players and coaches. He congratulated them for their hard work this season and explained what was expected of them while guests of the Buffalo Bills.

Other notable speakers during the brief welcome ceremony included former Lancaster head coach Len Jankiewicz, Dick Gallagher from WGRZ and Mike Masters of Cross Training Athletics.

There will be a total of five games played this weekend at New Era Field beginning with the Class D championship at 5pm Friday night. The Franklinville/Ellicottville (FE) Titans (9-0) will take on the Maple Grove Red Dragons (8-1), a rematch of last season’s title game. Red Dragons head coach Curt Fischer was unable to attend today’s event because he was having a procedure done.

“He’ll be back for Friday night’s game,” Captain Nick Fabrizio said. “The game is too big for him to miss.”

Maple Grove defeated FE last year 33-6 but lost in their week three match-up, played over a month ago.

“That’s a distant memory,” Brock Blecha said. “We know there a really good team and we have to play even better this time around if we want to win.” Blecha, the senior QB who is having a fantastic season has been touted as a possible Connolly Cup finalist.

Ivan Ghemmegne led the Williamsville North Spartans (9-0) with 9 rushing TD’s this fall. The senior tailback is enjoying a productive season after missing most of his junior year with a leg injury. Standing in the way of a Class AA title are the Lancaster Legends (9-0). The Legends have not lost to a Section VI opponent in over two years. The Spartans last Section VI loss, was to the Legends back in 2016 and nobody on this Spartans team seemed to forget that.

“It’s hard not to look ahead,” junior Scott Becht said. The 6’3″ linebacker was looking forward to having another shot against the Legends. “They are a really good team and they have some great players over there but we feel like we can play with them. We are going to be ready to play Friday.”

Mike Vastola, is the first head coach to lead the West Seneca West Indians to the Class A title game at New Era Field.

“This is all about the players,” he said, glancing across the room as his players were having their picture taken. “They worked really hard to get to this point, it’s going to be a great game Saturday.” The Indians will take on South Park (9-0) Saturday in the late game.

Both teams made out like bandits last June when Bishop-Timon made the stunning announcement that their Athletic Director and head football coach Charlie Comerford was stepping down. Rumors began to circulate that the football team might not be around this fall and players began to transfer out. Three of those players will be featured in this game. Jeremiah Sanders, one of the premier lineman in WNY went back to South Park. Matt Myers, a standout QB, verbally committed to the University of Buffalo and Juston Johnson an explosive wide receiver caught on with the Indians.

Of course, Timon’s football team did not fold and 2010 Connolly Cup winner Joe Licata (Williamsville South) accepted the AD’s role and assumed the head football coaching duties.

Speaking of Connolly Cup winners, Jehuu Caulcrick (2002), head coach of the Southwestern Trojans was back in familiar territory.

“That is one ugly hat,” Caulcrick said.

The former Clymer High-School standout had some fun at my expense but it was all good. A pleasant reminder that the Fighting Irish handed his Michigan State Spartans a 38-18 beating back in September quickly returned the conversation back to the Class C championship game in which his team will play the Cleve-Hill Golden Eagles. A team that has had the edge in their last few contests most notably last year in this game.

“We have to stop their running game,” he said. “They do an excellent job of protecting the football and following their blocks. We want to try and force those backs to run outside instead of north and south.” Southwestern is known for their high-tempo offense, led by junior QB Cole Snyder. The Eagles feature a solid running back in Aaron Wahler (2019). Both players have been named Connolly Cup Top Performers this season.

Besides Cleve-Hill, two other Cheektowaga high-schools will be playing for a title as well. Cheektowaga Central (8-1) will play their cross town rival Maryvale (8-1) on Saturday at 3:15. The same two teams met up in week 7 with the Warriors coming out on top in that one.

The Flyers had to quickly forget about the game and prepare for their first playoff match-up against Newfane. Maryvale came out a little sluggish but came out with the win and then really made a huge statement last week in a decisive victory over Lackawanna. The win over the Steelers propelled them to a spot in the Class B championship. Junior Rashad Law has quickly become one of the top players in the area. Law led the Flyers with 12 rushing touchdowns but his biggest impact recently has been felt on the defensive side of the ball.

“This is a great opportunity for us to show them what we have,” Law said. “We all feel like we didn’t play our best and that we can improve. We know there was a lot to work on and we’re doing that.”

The weather hindered some of the usual activities you see at media day, only a handful of teams braved the high winds and rain and went out onto the field. Early forecasts call for clear skies Friday and a chance of rain early Saturday morning.

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