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Stop in Canada boosts Bennett star’s college hopes

Brandon Brown considers himself blessed, as it appears the door for living the Division I dream is slightly more ajar than it was prior to last month, when it seemed to be tackled for a loss due the combination of age and academics.

Brown, an All-Western New York second team football wide receiver and Class C first team all-state pick, has received a few Division I offers since leaving Bennett last month to enroll in a prep school in Welland, Ont., according to Bennett coach Steven McDuffie. The wide receiver for Canada Prep has caught the eye of Central Michigan, Fresno State and Maine. Canada Prep confirmed via Facebook and Twitter that Brown has been offered by Central Michigan, a rival of University of Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference.

Why is this news?

Brown, who turns 19 on Tuesday, still has to complete his senior year of high school in order to move on to college. He was ready to do so at Bennett, even though state rules would have made him ineligible to play sports due to his age, and then see if he could be a walk-on at a Division I or II program without playing a season of football. While colleges often have freshmen recruits redshirt their first seasons, they tend to frown upon offering those who have sat out a year while not being under their or any college coach’s supervision.

With Canada Prep opening its doors to Brown last month, though, he’ll get a full off-season of supervised team activities and full season of football game action in the fall.

“I’m just going to try to be as successful as I can,” said Brown, a 5-foot-11, 180-pounder who averaged nearly 20 yards a catch last season. “This is big for me.”

Canada Prep is a newer prep school. Despite its location, it plays United States-based counterparts and has sent its share of recruits to Division I and II schools, including current Oklahoma defensive tackle Neville Gallimore, a 320-pound four-star recruit out of St. Catharines who redshirted last season.

While no offer is official until a recruit is presented with a letter of intent and signs it, this means there could be at least two Class of 2017 football players with ties to Bennett, a Buffalo Public School, moving onto a scholarship program. First team All-Western New York linebacker Isaiah McDuffie verbally committed to Syracuse prior to the start of his junior year. He is still committed to the Orange, although his father said he is open to listening to other schools after Syracuse fired head coach Scott Shafer, who is now defensive coordinator at Maryland. Pitt, Maryland, Boston College and Wake Forest are among those trying to get McDuffie to change his mind.

Brown completed his final season with Bennett averaging 11.6 yards per rush on 38 carries as a change of pace back. As the team’s top receiver, he caught 30 passes for 596 yards and 13 touchdowns. At safety, he made 57 tackles and three interceptions in helping the 8-2 Tigers reach the Section VI Class C final.

“Brandon has worked very hard just like Isaiah in the classroom and on the field and tried to do all the right things in the community,” Steven McDuffie said. “There’s no difference from Isaiah being offered to Brandon. I’m ecstatic about both (having offers).

“We try to get them to the best level as possible. … We take our kids to the summer camps. I think taking kids to those camps and getting them exposure has paid off in a big way. It allows them to compete against those players who are three-star, four-star and five-star recruits. It’s paying off immensely.”

St. Mary’s hires coaches

St. Mary’s of Lancaster has announced the hirings of Charles Planz and Mark Dantonio. Planz takes over as cross country/track coach, while Dantonio has been named ice hockey coach.

Planz has 45 years coaching experience at the scholastic level, including the last eight at Immaculata, where he guided the Bears to the last six All-Catholic titles in track and to five cross country championships over a six-year stretch.

Dantonio comes to St. Mary’s after serving as assistant at St. Francis for six years. He inherits a hockey program that did not field a varsity team last season. He has coached various levels of Tier I travel and junior-level hockey in his travels.

“I am honored and excited to be a part of the great growth happening at St. Mary’s High School,” the coach said in a press released issued by St. Mary’s.

Abrams cousins lead Akron lax

Gates Abrams scored six goals and his cousin, Weylon Abrams, had five for Akron (4-0) in a 22-7 boys lacrosse win over visiting Medina in Class C League play.

In Class A, Orchard Park (4-1) rolled past Iroquois, 18-2, as Kevin McParlane scored four times and assisted on three other Quaker goals.

Grand Island improved to 3-0 in girls lacrosse with an 11-8 Class B triumph over Williamsville North. Alyssa Maxwell had four goals and Jess Surace scored twice for the Vikings. Mount St. Mary defeated Niagara Falls, 11-2, in nonleague girls lacrosse. Mary Downey scored three goals and Tess Walter two in the victory. Each also had an assist for the Thunder.

In baseball, Dennis Gagliardo and Jake Pavicich each had a pair of hits and they drove in five runs combined to lead St. Joe’s (3-0) to a 15-1 nonleague win at Sweet Home.


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