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Dick Gallagher's Preseason Sidelines

Dick Gallagher gives his preseason "sidelines" as we head into the 2019 high school football season.
Credit: WGRZ

Lancaster will be competing for its 4th consecutive Class AA championship.

Maple Grove will be competing for it’s 8th consecutive appearance in a sectional title game. They have won 6 and lost 1 in the past 7 years.

Cleveland Hill has played in the Class C Sectional Championship in 5 of the last 7 years, winning 4 and losing 1. The Golden Eagles are looking for their 3rd consecutive title.

Cheektowaga has payed in 4 consecutive Class B Sectional Championships, winning 3 and losing 1.

South Park has been in 3 of the past 4 class title games, winning 1 and losing 2.

It’s hard to believe that out of 71 teams in 2018, only 26 had a winning season.

Tywon Wright and Conrad Thomas transferred from Dunkirk to Southwestern. Why doesn’t Section VI adopt a policy that if you transfer to another school for football, you will have to sit out for a year?

Congratulations to Qadree Ollison, University of Pittsburgh star RB and former Canisius All-WNY and All-State player for being drafted in the 5th round of the NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. In high school, he was a man among boys, rushing for 4147 yards and 57 touchdowns. Qadree is the highest Canisius alum drafted among the 14 Crusaders by NFL teams.

Other Western New York players drafted by the NFL include Jadd Dolegala from St. Francis who signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as a free agent. Jadd played at Central Connecticut State, setting several recording via passing, yardage and touchdowns.

Terius Wheatley, who played for Canisius and Orchard Park, is a sophomore RB/RS at Virginia Tech.

Msgr. Martin Association football players have won 10 Connolly Cups. St Francis has won 4, St. Joe’s has won 3, Cardinal O’Hara has won 1 and Timon/St. Jude has won 1. With all of the talent that Canisius has exhibited, it’s hard to believe that they don’t have a Connolly Cup recipient.

Brian Leach, Batavia RB, was the 2018 Class B Player of the Year, leading his team to the Class B State Championship game. He rushed for 2993 yards and 51 touchdowns last season. Schools that showed an interest in him were Buffalo, Albany, New Hampshire and Maine.

In 2018, 778 colleges and universities had football teams.

In 2018, over 1 million high school students played football.

There are 80,000 spots on college football teams.

16,659 high schools had football teams.

In 2018, four sections in New York State had teams playing 8 man football.

2018 was the first year that the New York State Sportswriters Association had All-State players for 8 man football.

In 2018, there were 194 unbeaten football teams in the country.

Kudos to Len Jankiewicz, Eric Jantzi and Jerry Smith for their coordination of the college recruiting combine in May. Over 300 student athletes and players from 42 schools throughout Western New York attended, which was the best ever. One question – why didn’t players from the other 29 Western New York schools attend? Another question – why didn’t coaches from these 29 schools want to provide their student athletes with the opportunity of participating in the various stations before 25 college football coaches?

The following high school football coaches have been inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame:

Frank Constantino, Depew – 1991

John Barnes, Canisius – 1999

Gene Masters, Grand Island/Brocton – 1999

Armand Cacciatore, Niagara Wheatfield

Art Serotte, Grover Cleveland – 2003

Wally Huckno, Jamestown – 2005

Paul Fitzpatrick, Bishop Timon – 2006

Joe Foyle, Lancaster – 2007

Joe Shifflet, Sweet Home, Tonawanda – 2008

Jules Yakapovich, Kenmore West – 2008

Dick Diminuco, Albion, Alden, Pembroke – 2013

John Faller, Sweet Home – 2018

Next football coaches who should be inducted include:

Len Jankiewicz, Lancaster

Pat Slater, Randolph

Curt Fischer, Maple Grove

Gene Tundo, Orchard Park

Note: There have been 9 years when high school football coaches have been inducted.

Sad commentary: NYSPHSAA voted to delay the start of the fall season and shortens the lengths of the three scholastic sports seasons. This change takes effect for the 2020-21 campaign. Currently the regular season in Section VI for football is 7 weeks. The start of this year’s season is September 5th. The rationale behind the change was the fall season started too early, the winter was too long and the spring season’s start date was too early. Several states have football teams playing 15 or 16 football games each season including playoffs. The max number of games a team could play in Section VI is 13 games including State Playoffs. Starting the football season later actually will make it difficult of getting an extra week added to extend a football’s regular season will almost be impossible. This change is ridiculous.

On April 19th, 2019, WNY high school football lost one of its major leaders, ambassadors, and supporters with the passing of Milt Dickerson. Milt was the catalyst, coordinator, and operation of the annual High School Lions High School Football All-Star Classic for 43 years. He was also a member of the Kensington Lions for 45 years, a past president and strong supporter of Kids Escaping Drugs. In fact, over a 15 year period, the Lions donated $150,000 to the organization. There was also a banquet prior to the game and the players, coaches, and parents appreciated the recognition the players received. Thousands of WNY Best Student-Athletes participated in All-Star games and enjoyed the opportunity. May Milt rest in peace. He left a wonderful legacy.

Congratulations to Len Jankiewicz, former assistant football coach, head football coach, and athletic director at Lancaster High School for being selected to the WNY Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.  He will be inducted in October along with 12 other inductees. Len grew up in Lancaster and was a member of the football program since the late 1960’s. He lettered in football and baseball at Lancaster and went on to play at Brockport State. He came back to the school as an assistant football coach under longtime head coach Joe Foyle in 1974. He became head coach in 1986 and posted a 143-93-2 record. He led the Redskins to nine appearances in the Section VI Championship game. He took over as Lancaster’s athletic director in 1993 after spending more than 40 years with Lancaster High School. He retired in 2012. He currently is the co-chair for Class AA Football. He also has coordinated several recruiting combines for Western New York student-athletes. This is a tremendous honor for Len and the Redskins/Legend community.

Cole Holcomb, whose family is from Portville, was a walk on and wound up starting at LB at North Carolina. He was drafted in the 5th round as a LB. The Holcomb family have a rich history in Portville athletics.

Msgr. Martin Association Update

The MMHSAA continues their new format for the 2019 football season. The MMHSAA will split the six teams into two divisions, with the A division consisting of Canisius, St. Francis and St. Joe’s and the B division including Bishop-Timon/St. Jude, Cardinal O’Hara and St. Mary’s. MMHSAA will provide four league games during the regular season and each school will be responsible for filling the non-league schedule. In addition to playing the other schools within their division, each school will play two of the three schools in the other division.

Active Coaches With The Most Wins

Curt Fischer, Chautauqua Lake & Maple Grove – 225 wins

Jerry Smith, St. Francis – 161 wins

Kraig Kurzanski, Williamsville South – 131 wins

Dean Santorio, Grand Island – 109 wins

Glen Graham, Cleveland Hill – 113 wins

Eric Jantzi, North Tonawanda – 99 wins

Al Cavagnaro, Starpoint – 95 wins

Tim Miller, Cattaraugus/LV – 92 wins

Jason Kolb, Burgard – 87 wins

Jim Maurino, West Seneca East – 85 wins

Mike Mammoliti, Williamsville North – 83 wins

Jim Duprey, Pioneer – 80 wins

Next Coaches To Win 100 Games

Eric Jantzi, North Tonawanda – 99 wins

Al Cavagnaro, Starpoint – 95 wins

Tim Miller, Cattaraugus/LV – 92 wins

Jason Kolb, Burgard – 87 wins

Jim Maurino, West Seneca East – 85 wins

Mike Mammoliti, Williamsville North – 83 wins

Jim Duprey, Pioneer – 80 wins

WNY Coaches Best Winning Percentage

Mike Fatta, Cheektowaga – 90%

Eric Rupp, Lancaster – 90%

Mike Vastola, West Seneca West – 73%

Eric Jantzi, North Tonawanda – 74%

Chad Bartoszek, Franklinville/Ellicottville – 73%

Jehuu Caulcrick, Southwestern – 71%

Mike Vastola, West Seneca West – 71%

Dick Gallagher’s Ten Commandments of Football

  • Thou shalt not quit.
  • Thou shalt not alibi.
  • Thou shalt not gloat over winning.
  • Thou shalt not sulk over losing.
  • Thou shalt not take unfair advantage.
  • Thou shalt not display unsportsmanlike behavior.
  • Thou shalt not underestimate an opponent or overestimate thyself.
  • Thou shalt respect and listen to your coaches.
  • Thou shalt always give 100% effort in practices and games.
  • Thou shalt be thankful that you are able to play sports.

Teams Playing Football The Longest

Jamestown – 125 years
North Tonawanda – 125 years
Lockport – 123 years
St. Joe’s – 121 years
Williamsville- 121 years
Albion – 120 years
Medina – 120 years
Clarence – 119 years

Teams Scoring The Fewest Points in 2018

East Aurora/Holland – 48 points
Frontier – 74 points
Tonawanda – 96 points
Cattaraugus/LV – 96 points
North Tonawanda – 97 points
St. Mary’s – 104 points
Lake Shore – 104 points
Sweet Home – 116 points
Niagara Falls – 122 points

Teams Allowing Most Points in 2018

Lockport – 393 points
Alden – 364 points
St. Francis – 364 points
Eden/NC – 331 points
JFK – 323 points
Lake Shore – 313 points
Cattaraugus/LV – 312 points
Timon/St. Jude – 312 points
Sweet Home – 309 points


Class AA: Jamestown
Class A-1: Niagara Wheatfield
Class A-2: Williamsville South
Class B-1: East Aurora/Holland
Class B-2: Iroquois
Class B-3: Olean
Class B-4: Tonawanda
Class C North: Wilson
Class C South: Chautauqua Lake/Westfield/Brocton
Class D: Maple Grove
Msgr. Martin Association League A: St. Joe’s
Msgr. Martin Association League B: Timon/St. Jude

Key League Games for the Msgr. Martin Association

September 21st – St. Joe’s at Canisius

October 5th – St. Joe’s at St. Francis

October 25th/26th – Canisius at St. Francis

Section VI teams play 6 games with the Msgr. Martin Football Teams:

Bennett at St. Joe’s

Maritime at Canisius

Timon at Iroquois

Akron at Timon/St. Jude

Timon/St. Jude at Wilson

McKinley at Cardinal O’Hara

St. Francis Graduates in NFL Positions

Dave Caldwell – GM, Jacksonville

Tom Telesco – GM, LA Chargers

Chris Polian – Director of Scouting, Jacksonville

Kyle Smith – Director of Scouting, Washington

St. Francis has won 9 of the last 15 Msgr. Martin JV Championships.

216 student-athletes from 40 schools attended the 2019 recruiting combine from St. Francis in May. St. Francis with 18 players, had the best turnout. Other schools with good attendance included Williamsville South (12), Lancaster (10), Akron (9), Cardinal O’Hara (9), Niagara Wheatfield (9) and Kenmore East (8). Unfortunately, only 1 student-athlete from the Buffalo Public Schools attended the combine. It’s sad at the lack of involvement by city student-athletes.

Congratulations to Glen Graham, Cleveland Hill head football coach, for being selected Football Coach of the Year by the NYS Public High Schools Athletic Association. Glen has an outstanding record with 113 wins and only 38 losses in 15 years, including 7 sectional titles. In the past 3 years, he has led the Golden Eagles to 3 straight Section VI Class C Championships, losing twice in the state semi-finals. A very well-deserved honor for a tremendous coach, leader, mentor and a class act.

Best Cheerleaders: Lew-Port

Jacob Orlando, Williamsville North WR/DE did not play football in his senior year due to an injury. Congratulations to the Spartan who received a scholarship from the University of Massachusetts. His strength was his perseverance, patience, and a strong work ethic.

Curt Fischer retired from coaching in May with a record of 225 wins and 49 losses in his 25 years as head coach of Maple Grove and 1 year at Chautauqua lake. He has one of the best coaching records in football in New York State with 225 wins, winning 82% of his games. The Red Dragons won 2 state titles, several league titles and played in 19 sectional championships. From 2011 through 2018, his team played in 8 consecutive sectional championships, winning 5 and losing 3. Fischer’s 225 victories ranks 4th in WNY high school football history behind John Barnes from Canisius. Curt was an exceptional coach who established a dynasty with the Red Dragons and leaves a wonderful legacy. He is one of the top coaches ever in the state and deserves to be in The Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.

Key Msgr. Martin League Games

St. Joe’s at Canisius – September 21st at 1pm

Canisius at St. Francis – October 26th at 7pm

St. Joe’s at St. Francis – October 5th at 1pm

Cardinal O’Hara at Timon/St. Jude – October 11th at 7pm


Cameron “Crackerjack” Barmore, CSP

Joe “Pit Bull” Caporicci, North Tonawanda

Jake “Sparky” Tomlinson, Maple Grove

Dan “Golden Boy” Kaplan, Cheektowaga

Connor “Batman” Desiderio, Maryvale

Dave “Wonderboy” Munella, Jamestown

Jayden “Broadway” Dubard, Cheektowaga

Chris “Hammer” Diem, Cleveland Hill

Isaiah “Minister of Defense” Sharpe, Cheektowaga

Dewton “Monster” Tilly, Pioneer

Eric “The Stork” Schon, St. Francis

Harrison, “Kansas” Justice, Iroquois

Karson “The Toe” Hurlburt, Pioneer

Jayden “The Bulldozer” Heers, Newfane

Brilliance “Diesel” Johnson, Albion

Zach “The Beast” Norton, Clarence

Greg “Skyscraper” Poland, St. Joe’s

Deondre “Dr. Sack” Rice, Maryvale

Justin “Biscuit” Campbell, Bennett

Conor “Bell Ringer” Mahony, Lancaster

Nigel “Bulldozer” Williams, Cardinal O’Hara

AJ “Boomer” Urbaniak, Williamsville South

Logan “Showtime” Frank, Franklinville/Ellicottville

Nick “Hammer” Fratercangelo, Olean

CJ “Sparky” Sroda, Eden

Joe “Rabbit” Carlson, Starpoint

Nashawn “Crash” Oliver, Bennett

Clarence “Prime Time” Thomas, South Park

Top Ambassadors For WNY High School Football

Len Jankiewicz, Combines Coordinator

Dennis Sarow, Connolly Cup Coordinator

Carl Kuras, Trench Trophy Committee Co-Chair

Ken Stoldt, Chairperson for Section VI Football Federation

Denny Lynch, WNY Football Alliance

Matt Palma, President of Football Officials Organization

Pete Schneider, Msgr. Martin Athletic Association

Tom Prince, WNY Athletics

Frank Wolf, WNY Athletics

Scott Kindred, Post-Journal

Milt Dickerson, All-Star Football Classic Coordinator

Christian Veilleux, Canisius QB who passed for 1699 yard and 17 touchdowns has 14 scholarship offers from the following schools: Buffalo, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Perdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. The Crusader still has a major decision on whether he will be a recruit in the 2020 or 2021 class. If he chooses the latter, he would leave Canisius to attend a post graduate year at a prep school before joining the college program in the fall of 2021. The 6’4, 190lb QB will probably decide shortly since the Crusaders will be practicing in July and August for the 2019 season.

Top Sophomore: Addison Copeland, WNY Maritime

Top Junior: Jake Ritts, St. Francis

Top Seniors: Liam Scheuer, West Seneca West and Christian Veilleux, Canisius

Schools that didn't return questionnaires for the 2019 high school football season include: Allegany Limestone, Cattaraugus/LV, Chautauqua Lake, Falconer/CV, Fredonia, Lew-Port, McKinley, Roy-Hart, Salamanca, St. Joe's, Southwestern, Timon/St. Jude, West Seneca East. 

Eight players from Western New York were named to the All-USA New York Football Team:

Cole Snyder, Southwestern

Malik Brooks, Lockport

Tyler Doty, St. Joe's

Stephen Boyd, Cardinal O'Hara

Andrew Bernard, Randolph-Frewsburg

Shaun Dolac, West Seneca East

Joe Jamison, Canisius

Tristan Vandenberg, Canisius

Additional players from Starpoint playing college football include: 

Matt Spina, Brockport State

Brendan Gawel, St. John Fisher

Robert Roetzer, Alfred State

Sam Hallack, Alfred State

Eric Jantzi, head football coach at North Tonawanda, needs one more win to reach 100 victories in his career. Al Cavagnaro, head football coach at Starpoint, needs 5 wins to reach the coveted 100 wins club. 

Player To Watch: Marcus Harrison, Hamburg

Eric Jantzi resigned as head football coach in North Tonawanda. In his 14 years as head coach, he compiled a 99-38-0 record that included a state title, several section and league titles. He also coached at Springville. It is anticipated that assistant coach Rick Tomm will be appointed head coach for the Lumberjacks in the immediate future. 

New Head Football Coaches

Springville - Mark Heichberger

Salamanca - Chad Bartoszek

Franklinville/Ellicottville - Jason Marsh

Chautauqua Lake - Bryan Bongiovani

Allegany-Limestone - Tom Callen

All-Star Classic Game Summary

The South team won the 44th All-Star High School Football Classic defeating the North 30-20 increasing their overall lead in the series to 25 wins and 19 losses.

The South dominated the first half thanks to Keshone Beal, Javon Thomas, Aaron Wahler, Jayden Schutz and Shaun Dolac. The Most Valuable Players for the South were Shaun Dolac, Dominic Chiaramonte and Keshone Beal.

The North’s most valuable players were Joe Stewart, Jemelle Jones, Jonah Wisniewski and Jihad Loynes.

The unsung players of the game were Cam Sionko from the North team and Aaron Wahler from the South team.

The game was dedicated to Milton Dickerson who coordinated the event for 43 years and John Faller, Sweet Home head football coach, who recently passed after decades of coaching football and lacrosse. He also participated as a head and assistant coach for the All-Star Classic.

Potential All-WNY Players From Canisius

Antwaine Gandy, WR/DB

CJ Ozolins, RB/LB

Donovan Cornelius, OL/DL

Eli Haqq, RB/LB

Eric Kegler, WR/DL

Grant Taylor, TE/LB

Hunter Glaser, TE/DL

Jake Troup, OL/DL

Joe Dixon, RB/DB

Malachi Charleston, OL/DL

Max Dowling, WR/DL

Mike Lewis-Myree, OL/DL

Nigel Dabney, RB/LB

Amier Mohammad, RB/DB

Drevon Shaw, OL/DL

Riley Simpson, WR/DB

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