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South Park champs get City Hall salute

It was a cross between football pep rally and awards ceremony Wednesday as the South Park High School Sparks – the first Buffalo public school to win a state football championship – were feted in City Hall for bringing pride to their school, their parents and their city.

After the South Park cheerleading squad set the tone with “S-P-A-R-K-S. Let’s go Sparks,” Mayor Byron W. Brown welcomed the high school football stars to his office.

“Welcome to City Hall,” he told the athletes seated in a room decorated with signs honoring the team. “You are champions. You represented your school and your city well. There were people all over the city cheering for you. … You made history.”

“How about them Sparks?” South District Councilman Christopher P. Scanlon called out, getting an enthusiastic response from the players.

Principal Theresa Schuta spoke of the outpouring of support the Buffalo community has shown for the young athletes, and coach Tim Delaney spoke of the pride the school feels “in calling ourselves Sparks.”

The full meaning of the Sparks’ 49-46 victory over Our Lady of Lourdes on Friday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse – making the Sparks state Class A champions – has yet to set in, Delaney said.

“It will hit the kids as they get older that they brought the city together, that there were people cheering for them that they didn’t even know,” he said.

Quarterback Tyree Brown agreed.

“I didn’t think it would be this big,” he said of the community reaction to the victory – or to his own personal accomplishments. Brown, who ran for four touchdowns and threw for two others, was the game’s most valuable player.

A reporter joked with Brown that he might have been the most popular quarterback in town this week, a reference to the disappointment fans felt with Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor in Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Tyree quietly laughed. But Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen looked at Tyree as he announced, “Our next quarterback.”