Bishop Timon-St. Jude has hired Charlie Comerford as its new football coach.
Comerford was chosen to replace coach Al Monaco, who was let go earlier this year.
* * *
"We had a search committee, and we picked him," said athletic director Jim Palano. "It's like deja vu here, he's going to have young Paul Fitzpatrick [Jr.] with him and another couple of guys who are in our Hall of Fame from around that time, 2000 to 2002. We're excited about it. We're certainly appreciative of what Al Monaco did here, but it's time to turn a new page."
Comerford is one of the greatest athletes to ever play at Timon. He was a two-time first-team All-Western New Yorker in football and basketball and was also All-Catholic in baseball. He went to Holy Cross to play both sports but a back injury halted his athletic career.
"If he didn't get hurt, I think you'd see him in the NFL today, like a Gronkowski, I really do," said Palano, referencing the three Gronkowski brothers from Williamsville.
Comerford assisted the coaching staff at Holy Cross for two years after he was injured and Palano said he helped out at Timon while he was in law school.
"He doesn't have a ton of experience, so if there's any knock on him, that's it," said Palano. "But I know the kid, I know the passion he has for Timon High School. To coach here in South Buffalo, you have to know the heartbeat of the school, and he does.
"There are a lot of plusses. He certainly knows the game, he'll hustle and work hard. If he brings the same competitive spirit he did when he played, he'll be fine.
Palano said that Dave Comerford, Charlie's father and a coach when Charlie played, will also be part of the staff. Another assistant will be former Timon standout Nick Parisi, who, like Comerford and Fitzpatrick, are members of the school's Hall of Fame.
Palano agreed that one of the major benefits of hiring Comerford is to tap into a recent era of greatness at the school. Football has struggled since then, while overall enrollment remains behind other League AA members St. Joe's, Canisius and St. Francis.
"Our football has been down -- we haven't done well for various reasons," said Palano. "It's never anything bad as far as Al Monaco goes -- I taught him, I hired him. We've had a lack of talent, and it's tougher for us to compete. In football you need so many guys. In baseball you need five or six guys and two pitchers. In basketball you need two or three. In football you need 15-18 kids. We have a decent squad coming back, we just have to put things together.
"When kids see Charlie in the gym, they know him probably as the best athlete to ever come out of this building, along with Tommy Ryan. He was all-state in football and basketball and his third sport was baseball, and he was All-Catholic in that, too.
"With Charlie and guys like [current basketball and baseball assistant] Joe Mihalics, these are guys I love. Charlie is getting married this month, he has a house in the neighborhood not far from his dad's. Hopefully it will attract kids to the school. Face it, winning breeds kids and we need to win to get some kids. In sports, when you win, you get noticed."
* * *
Here are some additional quotes from Comerford:
"I think the kids are the same at Timon when I was there or in the 80s. We just have to get the best out of them, and I'm going to try my hardest. I think I can try to get couple more kids in school who haven't been playing to play, and once we start winning some games we'll get more kids, both kids in the school and [local] grade schools in the area. I think we'll get a better student-athlete in the near future.
"We've got to get the kids in school -- there are still great athletes, lacrosse is great and basketball is doing well. The kids are there.
"We have a cuple obstacles as far as enrollment goes, but when I was there from 1998 to 2000 it was the same number of kids. We had 25 to 20 kids and we competed with the St. Joe's, Canisius, St. Francis, Aquinas, Cathedral Prep. There's a little more disparity now, but I think the kids are the same. We have obstacles other schools don't have, but I don't see that as an excuse to lose."
Comerford has been back in Buffalo three years and works for a demolition and asbestos company; he lived in Washington, D.C., for three years and Cleveland for one.
As far as hands-on changes, he said he wanted to get the players into college-like workout programs.
"We need to have kids lifting more, with more college-based lift programs, not whatever they want to do it whenever they want to do it.
"I'm going to bring a brand of hard work to the kids -- we want to be more prepared than any team in Western New York. We were with coach Fitzpatrick. We had to work harder and we had to be more prepared than our opponent -- we had to be."
* * *
Timon football since Comerford graduated in 2001, which was the last season before a playoff was instituted in the Monsignor Martin Association (Timon has never appeared in the championship game at Ralph Wilson Stadium):
2001: 6-3, 2-1 (League AA co-champs with St. Francis)
2002: 4-4, 2-1
2003: 6-4, 1-2
2004: 5-4, 1-2
2005: 2-7, 0-3 (Paul Fitzpatrick's 28th and final year)
2006: 2-7, 1-2 (alum Al Monaco, Fitzpatrick's longtime assistant, takes over as coach)
2007: 3-7, 0-3
2008: 5-5, 0-3
2009: 1-9, 0-3
2010: 3-7, 0-3
* * *
My very bad: Monaco's record was 14-35. I erroneously computed the totals for the record that appeared in the paper and shorted it two wins. I caught it too late for the paper, while I was updating this blog with more info. We will run a correction.