The Bishop Timon-St. Jude football program released its schedule for the 2016 season, and it’s difficult to pick a game that stands out above another.
In a move the Tigers hope will aid their quest to contend for the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association championship and also increase exposure to their top talents across the country, the Tigers fashioned a schedule that includes national powers from Georgia and New York, a top Ohio school and the Texas school that provided the inspiration for the book, movie and television show “Friday Night Lights.”
Timon's first three opponents, in order, include Buford High (Ga.), Central Catholic (Ohio) and Permian (Texas). The Tigers also travel to Rochester in Week Seven to face defending state Class AA champion Aquinas, which ended the season ranked 12th in the USA Today national poll. Mix in the usual Monsignor Martin games against defending postseason champion St. Francis, 2015 state Catholic champion Canisius and perennial-contender St. Joe’s, and “daunting” might not be a strong enough adjective to describe the schedule. But Tigers’ players will gain some serious exposure while preparing for the postseason.
“I don’t think anyone in Western New York has had a schedule like this,” coach Charlie Comerford said. “It’s kind of unique. It’s a selling point (to future kids). We’re also trying to get to the top of the Monsignor Martin. I wanted to try something different. Hopefully this gets us over the top.”
Buford is a perennial nationally ranked program which recently had its string of three-state titles broken by a runner-up finish last season. Twelve members of that team earned Division I scholarships.
Central Catholic, based in Toledo, Ohio, lost in the final last year to end its reign as Division III state champions. Former St. Mary’s of Lancaster Athletic Director Dan Gill is the AD at Central Catholic.
Then there’s Permian.
For those movie and television buffs, the Thursday night, Sept. 15 contest against Panthers at 17,931-seat Ratliff Stadium in Odessa could very well be the piece de resistance of the slate. Permian is a two-time national champion, with its 1989 national title season the subject of “Friday Night Lights.” While the Panthers haven’t won a state title since 1991, they still play in a state where football is so big they allow spring practices and scrimmages.
Timon signed two-year agreements with Permian, Buford and Central Catholic. The Tigers also will play each of those teams on the road in 2017.
How did these sides come together to schedule games? In the case of Permian and Buford, the scheduling coordinator for both schools reached out to Timon after noticing the Tigers were looking for games during Weeks One and Three on a Pennsylvania football website.
What does Timon gain by scheduling these tough games? Besides more national exposure for its players and program, a unique playing experience that won’t hurt the Tigers financially. Comerford said Permian and Buford plan to cover Timon's travel costs for the games.
“I really can’t wait to play these games,” Comerford said. “I don’t have any misconceptions that we’re one of the best teams in the country. … But it’s a great opportunity, for our kids. Our end goal is to get these kids into college. These games could set them up. If they do well, it’ll give them an opportunity to be looked at by better schools.”
Timon is pretty young but returns a total of 15 players who helped the program reach the league semifinals last season. The top returnee is quarterback Matt Myers, who earned Second Team All-Western New York at the utility. He is a 6-foot-5 strong-arm sophomore who can run. He has already caught the eye of Division I programs and has been invited to the prestigious Sound Mind Sound Football Academy camp in Detroit, Mich.
”He’s the reason we’re doing the trips,” Comerford said of Myers. “I think he’ll be one of the best players in Western New York. Colleges have already shown interest in him.”
Other potential standouts in waiting for Timon include RB/LB Joe Harrison, a third-team All-WNY junior and two-way starter at safety and receiver Will Lamar. Timon also has five linemen back in the fold who started at least one game last year including Jared Pilarski, Max Caulfield, Mike Weaver.
Timon-St. Jude 2016 football schedule
Sept. 2 at Buford (Atlanta, Ga.)
Sept. 9 at Central Catholic (Toledo,Ohio)
Sept. 15 at Permian (Odessa, Texas)
Sept. 23 vs. St Mary's
Oct. 1 at O'Hara
Oct. 7 vs. St Joe's
Oct .15 at Aquinas
Oct. 21 vs. Canisius
Oct. 28 at St Francis