The race to the Western New York rushing record started to heat up as the high school football season reached its halfway point this past weekend.
Through four games, Lackawanna senior Wade Turner has rushed for 570 yards, giving him 4,353 for his career. Turner currently ranks fourth on the all-time list with four games left in the regular season.
He trails all-time leader Major Cole of Turner/Carroll and O'Hara (4,645), who established the mark last year, by only 292 yards. At his current pace of just over 142 yards per game, he could become No. 1 in the next couple of weeks.
Turner has been a major factor in the Steelers being 4-0 and ranked No. 1 among small schools in The Buffalo News poll.
Not far behind Turner, however, is Springville senior Paul Paddock, who is in his first year with the Griffins after transferring from Cattaraugus.
Paddock has 459 yards this season and 4,275 for his career, giving him fifth place and putting him only 370 behind Cole's standard.
Springville got off to a surprisingly slow start this season, losing its first three games, but the Griffins bounced back to beat Iroquois last Friday night.
Falcons surprise in Eden event
There were few people more surprised that Frontier won the championship at the 21st annual Eden Can-Am Volleyball Tournament on Saturday than Falcons coach John Cordier.
"I really didn't expect us to come out and win the whole thing," said Cordier of the prestigious 16-team event. "We have a fairly young team, but the kids responded in a big way. They showed everybody something, including me."
After going 5-1 in pool play, Frontier beat Orchard Park in the quarterfinals, 17-16, 15-2, before prevailing over Webster of Section V in the semis, 15-4, 13-15, 15-12. Host Eden was the victim in the finals, falling, 15-5, 15-9.
The Falcons, who have taken over the No. 1 ranking in Western New York, were playing shorthanded. Middle hitter John Gerlach, one of only two seniors in the starting lineup, was diagnosed with mononucleosis late last week and will be sidelined for four weeks.
Taking over the lead role in Gerlach's absence was fellow senior Josh Becker, who amassed 104 kills in the tourney.
"It was a long day with pool play starting at 9 a.m. and we didn't finish the finals until 10 p.m.," Cordier said, "but instead of getting tired, Josh just seemed to get stronger as the day went along. It was a great effort."
Others playing key roles for the Falcons, who improved their overall record to 10-2, were junior setter Mark Starzynski and Matt Kresonko, another junior, who took over the middle hitter's role.
Tonawanda's Kunselman reaches milestone
Tonawanda senior Jake Kunselman reached an impressive milestone last Thursday night when he scored the 100th goal of his varsity career in a 3-2 ECIC soccer victory over Springville.
Kunselman, who also scored Monday night, currently stands sixth on the Western New York all-time scoring list, just one goal behind No. 5 Steve Butcher of North Tonawanda, who is currently starring for the University at Buffalo. The all-time record is 148, set by North Collins' Adam Teijeira from 1991-94.
"Jake is the best player I've coached in my 28 years," Tonawanda coach Dave McKay said. "He uses either foot extremely well, has very good speed and quickness and a great deal of soccer sense."
McKay has been known to take his star striker and use him at other positions when a game situation dictates such a move. If fact, he even played in goal for the Warriors once last season when their regular keeper was injured.
Hard work paved way to FG record
Saturday's Western New York record-setting 52-yard field goal by St. Francis' Dallas Pelz in a 43-13 loss to Niagara-Wheatfield was no fluke. It came as a result of hard work.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound soccer-style kicker, who has hit a 65-yarder with the wind in practice, has honed his skills the past few summers at kicking camps. This year, he was named top kicker at camps in West Virginia and Missouri.
"With the wind blowing against me, I wasn't sure I could make the kick," Pelz said of his record-setting effort, which flew about 5 yards beyond the uprights. "I hit it kind of low and it seemed like the ball took forever to get there."
He later attempted a 57-yarder with the wind, but that kick was blocked.
Although high school rules allow for a place-kicker to use a 2-inch flat tee for field goals and PATs, Pelz, who is hoping to attend the University at Buffalo next year, prefers to kick off the ground.
"If I kick off a tee now, I'm going to have to adjust to kicking off the ground in college, so I might as well get used to it now," he explained.