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Sideline to sideline: H.S. football's new coaches, new divisions, top players & more

Coaching changes

Paul Burgio may be a first-time head coach, but he's no stranger to Clarence football.

He's logged 24 seasons as an assistant with the program, including the Red Devils' Section VI Class AA championship year back in 2010 under then-head coach Tom Goddard.

When Goddard stepped down, the district stayed in house – hiring another member of Goddard's staff to take over. It was Mark Layer, who had prior head-coaching experience, and guided Clarence to the Class AA North Division title and the sectional semifinals last season.

Burgio stayed as an assistant but figured if he ever wanted to be a varsity head coach, he'd likely have to do it at another school.

That changed when Layer decided to retire after 30 seasons with the Clarence football program. Burgio, who left last season to help his friend and now-retired Clarence school teacher Mark Kensy coach junior varsity at Amherst with Kensy's son, applied for the gig, and …

"It worked out that I got to go back to Clarence," Burgio said, "which is really where I ever wanted to be."

The Red Devils host Williamsville South in a nonleague contest at 7 p.m. Friday.

The difference between being an assistant and head coach: "The daily preparation and the communication with everyone in the program," Burgio said.

Other coaching changes in Western New York:

Albion: Adam Krenning replaces Gary Parisi.

Barker/Roy-Hart: Don Baker replaces Bill Bruning.

Bishop Timon-St Jude: Joe Licata replaces Charlie Comerford.

Chautauqua Lake: Rich Morton replaces Adam Erickson.

East Aurora/Holland: John Swinuich replaces Tim Wade.

Iroquois: Rob Pitzonka replaces Keith Marshall.

Lewiston-Porter: Matt Bradshaw replaces Dave Adelizi.

Niagara Wheatfield: Russ Nixon replaces Brett Tylec.

North Tonawanda: Dan Troy replaces Henry Fumerelle.

Springville: Rob Valenti replaces Eric Jantzi.

Sweet Home: Rich Lowe replaces John Faller.

Williamsville East: Mike Torrillo replaces Chris Glenn.

Mergers and shifts

The number of programs in Western New York has decreased from 72 in 2016 to 70 this season.

The Buffalo Public Schools reduced the number of teams it's fielding from six to five as Riverside is no longer its own program. Students at Riverside who want to play now must do so at Bennett, which also has athletes on its team from five other city schools which do not offer football. As a result, Bennett, last year's Section VI Class A champion, moves up from A South into the Class AA division.

Riverside played in A South last year.

Also, an emergency merger between Frewsburg and Randolph was approved by the section last week. That means Class D goes from nine teams to eight with the merged team, known as Randolph/Frewsburg, playing the Cardinals' original schedule. Teams slated to play Frewsburg now have open dates, unless the section found nonleague foes for them.

Silver Creek/Forestville moves from Class D into Class C South, while Chautauqua Lake and Salamanca drop down from that division into Class D.

Also, the 18 teams in Class B are now divided into three six-team divisions based on enrollment with the six largest schools in the same division (B1) and the six smallest also in the same division (B3).

Kenmore West drops from Class AA North into Class A North. Amherst moves from A North into A South. There are no longer two divisions in Class AA as the 11 teams are now in one big division with the top eight making the playoffs.

Nichols now has student-athletes from Christian Central Academy on its roster. 

Returning All-WNYers

First team: Max Giordano, Lancaster, DB; Jeremiah Sanders, South Park, OL; Matt Myers, West Seneca West, P.

Second team: Paul Woods, Canisius, WR; Brad Currell, Canisius, OL; Joe Andreessen, Lancaster, LB; Jalin Cooper, Medina, U; Retsen Daley, St. Francis, WR; Devonte Fountain, South Park, DB; Dylan McDuffie, Sweet Home, RB.

Third team: Zane Johnson, Grand Island, WR; Nic Bruce, Orchard Park, WR; Juston Johnson, West Seneca West, DB.

Honorable mention: Jake Sarow, Akron, RB; Christian Snell, Alden, DB; Jayce Johnson, Canisius, QB; Michael Clark, Cardinal O’Hara, U; Jacob Reger, Clarence, RB; Aaron Wahler, Cleveland Hill, RB; Ryan Majerowski, Cleveland Hill, LB; Brock Blecha, Franklinville/Ellicottville, QB; Jaekwon Ingram, Lackawanna, DL; Ryan Mansell, Lancaster, QB; Ben Damiani, Lancaster, LB; Zak Trim, Maple Grove, OL; Connor Desiderio, Maryvale, QB; Kaiyer Fields, McKinley, RB; Syquan Ralands, Niagara Falls, DL; Dylan Vincent, Olean, U; Trent Gray, Randolph, QB; JeJuan Sparks, St. Francis, DL; Melique Straker, St. Francis, DB; Dawson Tyger, St. Francis, DB; Casey Kelly, St. Joe's, QB; Anthony Robinson, Starpoint, LB; Cole Snyder, Southwestern, QB; Jared Maurino, West Seneca East, DB; Joe Shifflet, Williamsville East), WR.

Game of the Week

Spectrum cable is planning to air four area games each Friday as part of what it has dubbed as its "Friday Night Matchup." One of the games will air on the Spectrum News channel, while three others will be streamed live online.

This week, Spectrum plans to air the first Friday night game at renovated Sparky Adams Field as Kenmore East hosts Grand Island in a Class A North contest. Among the games that will be streamed this week (although those in Rochester will get to watch this one on its Spectrum News channel) is the heavyweight clash between defending state Catholic champion Canisius at Section V Class AA contender Pittsford. Both are perennially state-ranked teams/title contenders. Locally, folks can watch it at, Spectrum News' website and the Spectrum News app.

Thursday night football

We're not talking about the NFL or college version either, as several teams will be in action on Thursdays during the season as demand has out-paced supply: i.e. more teams with lighted fields want to play night games than there are officials to go around.

There will be at least one regular-season game on Thursdays, except for weeks one and four. There are five games slated for Week Five, including potential contests with division/playoff ramifications when Williamsville South visits Kenmore West in A North and Williamsville North travels to Jamestown in Class AA.

Week Two has three games on the slate, including Jamestown making the long trip to Riverside's Dingboom Field to face Hutch-Tech.

Player of the Week

The News will be selecting a player of the week based on Connolly Cup nominations.

Playoff talk

The Section VI finals are Nov. 3-4 at New Era Field. The Rochester-area Section V champion hosts Far West Regionals this season Nov. 10-11 at Capelli Sport Stadium, the former Sahlen's Stadium. The state semifinal for teams at the western end of the state (Section VI, V, IV and III) in the five classes is Nov. 17-18 at Union-Endicott High School in suburban Binghamton. The state championships start the weekend of Nov. 24 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. The Monsignor Martin championship game will be played Nov. 18 at New Era Field. The champion advances to the New York State Catholic High Schools Athletic Association championship game, which will be played locally at a venue and time still to be announced.


The place to monitor all of the high school football action on game days is We will have photos, live updates from several top games and you will again be a part of the team via Twitter. Tweet game updates with the #PrepTalkLive hashtag and those will appear in our live post.

Final 2016 News polls

Brackets indicate first-place votes; * - Indicates tie in voting

Large Schools

Rank School (Class) Record Points

  1. Canisius [6] 10-2 87
  2. Lancaster (AA) [3] 10-1 84
  3. St. Francis 4-6 65
  4. Bennett (A) 8-3 59
  5. Orchard Park (AA) 6-4 52
  6. Starpoint (A) 9-1 46
  7. Bishop Timon-St. Jude 5-6 36
  8. McKinley (A) 6-3 21
  9. Hutch-Tech (AA) 6-3 13

T10. St. Joe’s* 4-6 9

T10. Clarence* 6-3 9

Others receiving votes: Niagara Falls (AA) 4, Grand Island (A) 2, North Tonawanda (A) 1.

Small Schools

Rank School (Class) Record Points

  1. Maple Grove (D) [9] 12-1 99
  2. Dunkirk (B) [1] 9-3 90
  3. Cheektowaga (B) 9-1 77
  4. Cleveland Hill (C) 9-2 73
  5. Olean (B) 8-1 51
  6. Southwestern (C) 8-2 39
  7. Maryvale (B) 6-2 37
  8. Franklinville/Ellicottville (D) 7-3 30
  9. Medina (B) 6-3 21
  10. Lackawanna (B) 5-4 11

Others receiving votes: Alden (B) 9, Gowanda (C) 7, Silver Creek/Forestville (D) 4, East Aurora/Holland (B) 1.

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