Bishop Timon-St. Jude's football program competes in League AA of the Monsignor Martin Association, which makes the Tigers the smallest team in the four-team league.
But Charlie Comerford, who starred at the South Buffalo school about a decade ago and has been named the school's new head coach, says that challenge isn't any different than when he was starring for the Tigers.
"We have a couple of obstacles as far as enrollment goes, but we had the same number of kids when I was there," said Comerford. "We competed with Cathedral Prep, St. Joe's, Canisius, St. Francis, Aquinas -- there might be a little more disparity now but I think the kids are the same. We might have obstacles some other schools don't have, but I don't see that as an excuse to lose."
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 football and basketball but a back injury halted his athletic career.
Comerford graduated in 2001, which was the last time Timon won a championship, splitting the league title with St. Francis (the league playoff system began the following season).
Since the retirement of legendary 28-year coach Paul Fitzpatrick following the 2005 season, Timon went 12-37 under alum Al Monaco, who was let go earlier this year. Timon went 1-14 in AA games under Monaco and has not won a league game since Monaco's first year, beating Canisius, 16-12, in 2006.
"I played for the greatest coach in Western New York history, I think, in Paul Fitzpatrick, and it's an honor to coach this program," said Comerford. "If I can do half as much as him, I think Timon will be in pretty good shape. I think we have the best kids in Western New York -- the toughest kids bar none. And if 20 kids come out, that will be fine with me. If they're the toughest kids in Western New York, then I think we'll win some games."
Comerford said that he's aiming to attract the best athletes in the school to the football program as well as bring in more students to the school.
"There are a lot of great athletes in the school," he said. "The lacrosse program is doing great, basketball is doing well. The kids are there, we just need to put things together."
Athletic Director Jim Palano said that one of the major benefits of hiring Comerford is to tap into a recent era of Timon's greatness.
"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.
"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. Hopefully it will attract kids to the school. Face it, winning breeds kids and we need to win to get some kids. When you win, you get noticed."
Comerford assisted the coaching staff at Holy Cross for two years after he was injured, and Palano said he has also helped out at Timon.
"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."
For more on the hire, go to the Prep Talk blog at buffalonews.com.