Wayne Ollison coached little league football for more than 20 years in Niagara Falls. He says that one game is the best one he was ever a part of, a back-and-forth battle featuring big play after big play between the stars of both teams.
Those two top players were eighth graders when Niagara Falls edged Lockport, 41-38, for the 2009 Niagara Youth Football League championship.
Now they are seniors, and they’re still rivals: Qadree Ollison of Canisius and Nigel Davis of St. Joe’s.
Qadree, Wayne’s son, was the standout for Niagara Falls. Davis was his counterpart for Lockport. At 1 p.m. Saturday, they will square off in the final regular season game of their careers, which will be the 81st meeting of Western New York’s best rivalry: St. Joe’s takes on Canisius at the Crusaders’ Stranksy Complex on Clinton Street in West Seneca.
“It’s really great knowing a kid so long – sometimes it is more fun to play against your friends, people that you’re a little closer to,” said Qadree. “It’s pretty cool to be playing against each other so long. We know each other really well – we know each other’s plays and we can help our coaches.”
Qadree, a 6-foot-1, 220-pounder who has verbally committed to Pittsburgh, was last year’s Buffalo News Player of the Year along with a teammate, senior lineman Ryan Hunter. He continues to be the driving force for Canisius (6-2), ranked second in The Buffalo News large school poll. The 5-10, 180-pound Davis has joined Ollison as a candidate for this year’s award with a dynamic all-around display (rushing, receiving, defense, returns, kicking, punting) in leading the Marauders to a 6-2 record and a No. 4 standing in the large school poll.
In little league, the two players had nicknames. Wayne Ollison remembered it was Nigel “The Nightmare” Davis and Qadree “One-Touch” Ollison. Both nicknames would certainly still be applicable.
“That championship was the best game I ever coached,” said Wayne. “Even though it was nerve-wracking for me – we had come in as favorites after beating Lockport pretty good in the regular season, and the championship was at Lockport.
“They lined up Nigel as a quarterback in a Wildcat, and we had to adjust to that. All of a sudden, Nigel wasn’t at running back, and Nigel was dangerous,” Wayne said, before adding another line that still applies: “If you missed Nigel, you missed … and he was gone.”
“He was just so fast in little league,” Qadree said of Davis. “He’s fast now. It was a great game.”
Qadree has watched the tape of the game many times.
“That is Qadree’s favorite little league game,” his dad said. “We still have video at the house somewhere, every so often he dusts it off.”
Qadree said he’ll be watching it again soon – as soon as he finds it.
“That’s my most favorite little league game,” Qadree said. “I can’t find it. I love to watch it. I love to watch my little league stuff to see how it was. I don’t remember the last time I watched it, but as soon as I find it, I’ll probably put it in and watch it.
“I played quarterback in little league, and I remember my dad moving me to running back. We were down like two touchdowns early. … Then I went to quarterback and I threw a touchdown. They came back and scored. It was the craziest game, it was a night game too. I remember us being tied … they punted and I scored.”
“Qadree had like four touchdowns and Nigel had like four touchdowns,” Wayne recalls. “Qadree had a punt return for a touchdown, and we were still down four or five points or something. … Later we moved Qadree from running back to quarterback and he threw a touchdown on fourth-and-3.”
Davis remembers the game, but not as detailed as the Ollisons, which perhaps has something to do with which side came out on top.
The first thing out of Davis’ mouth when asked about the game was vivid enough: “We had ’em, we had ’em.”
“When you saw those two kids, you knew both were special kids,” said Wayne. “They were just so much above the other kids.”
When the Ollisons went to shadow Niagara Falls native Johnny Davis at Canisius when they were considering which high school Qadree would go to, they met with then-coach Brandon Harris and they watched the tape of that game.
Wayne recalls Harris saying, “Well, you know I definitely loved No. 6,” referring to Qadree.
Then Harris asked, “but who the heck is that No. 23 on the other team?”
“He knew that he was an awesome player as well,” Wayne said.
Once the Ollisons decided on Canisius, they contacted Davis, who was undecided on a high school at that point, and inquired to see if he wanted to join Qadree as a Crusader.
Davis certainly remembers that.
“Qadree said something to me about Canisius,” Davis said before smiling a big smile, “but St. Joe’s is where my heart was, and where it will always be.”
“It’s my last game, hopefully we get them in the playoffs, but I can’t wait on that,” said Davis. “It’s my last game, emotions are going to be high. … I just can’t wait.”
Same goes for the rest of us, Nigel.