There was no Gatorade shower, nor was there an impromptu bath from a water bucket following the first victory of Bryan Gorman’s career as interim head coach of Canisius High School football. The celebration was kind of tame, as though it were a business-as-usual type of victory.
That’s because it was, as far as Gorman is concerned.
The books will show that Canisius defeated Western New York Maritime/Health Sciences 59-0 in Gorman’s debut as the varsity team/overall program leader after 16 years as an assistant.
Gorman doesn’t view the victory as a me moment. He looks at it as the start of another journey, a journey that the Crusaders hope winds up with them earning a season-ending trip downstate to play in the New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association final.
“It’s a football game,” Gorman said. “I’m glad we got the win. I don’t look at it from any other perspective. I’m on to McKeesport (Pa.).
Bennett's Dominic Allen started what turned out to be an eye-opening day for him by capping the opening possession with a 5-yard touchdown run against the defending Class B champion Western New York Maritime/Health Sciences.
“We set a culture here about 15 years ago. It hasn’t deviated from what coach (Rich) Robbins has instilled and what I’m carrying out as well. We want to win league titles and state titles.”
Canisius definitely did that under Robbins, who relinquished the reigns to one of the signature programs in the area in June when he announced he was leaving Western New York to relocate his family to Florida to be closer to immediate family members who had already moved South. In 10 seasons with Robbins, the Crusaders won seven Monsignor Martin playoff titles and three state Catholic championships – the last in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic impacted daily life.
Senior quarterback Tyler Baker said Saturday’s crowd of more than 1,000 felt like a normal pre-pandemic game from his sophomore season. Of course playing on a sunny, 80 degree day instead of the chilly conditions that greeted most players on game days during the Fall II season in the spring also probably had something to do with it. But the cheers and the student section – the Blue Crew – being really loud had a lot to do with it.
But more importantly, Baker said the game day operation for the team felt like business as usual.
It looked that way when he ran 80 yards for a touchdown on the first offensive play of the season for the Blue and Gold. It was called two weeks ago in practice by offensive coordinator Tom Coppola, and it was executed perfectly as Baker was barely touched on the play.
Playing football has been a life-changing decision for Kooper Aiken, one that has enabled the West Seneca East senior diagnosed with high functioning autism to live the life of a normal student-athlete.
On the ensuing kickoff, a high directional kick got caught up in the wind and the ball veered to an open spot where two Crusaders happened to be there waiting to recover it.
Canisius didn’t score on that drive, but they had momentum. The Crusaders scored on their next possession on a sweet 13-yard pass from Baker to Nino Morgan. Josh Fillion returned a pick 50 yards for a TD late in the first quarter to make it 21-0.
Baker went 7 for 11 for three passing TDs and 120 yards and finished with 85 yards rushing. Defense, offense and special teams contributed points.
Business as usual for Canisius, which is a good thing.
“Bryan has been great with our program over a long time,” Canisius Athletic Director Jim Mauro said. “Really good with the kids. The continuity of him coming on as head guy of varsity with a great staff that stayed intact … he just kept moving along, which is a good thing. He’s not trying to re-create anything. It’s been good. We got a long road ahead of us, but obviously a great start today.”
The schedule gets much tougher from here on out, starting with Friday’s trip to Pennsylvania to take on unbeaten McKeesport (3-0).
Run Xander, run
Randolph rallied for a 36-26 victory over defending Class D champion Franklinville/Ellicottville on Friday behind a huge performance by Xander Hind.
Hind carried 42 times for 330 yards, according to coach Brent Brown.
“He was tough, he ran hard,” Brown said of the 5-9, 170-pounder. “He’s a big weight room kid.”
The Cardinals limited F/E to 178 yards, including 1 yard rushing.
It’s been a while since Randolph, the six-time state championship program, has earned a big win.
“For us, that’s a huge win,” Brown said. In the Ds, you’re looking to get one of the top two spots to get a bye and a home playoff game. That win was huge for us.”
Injuries result in early finish
This one comes courtesy of the fine folks at the Jamestown Post Journal.
A physical game resulted in Silver Creek/Forestville not having enough healthy players to finish Friday night’s 42-0 loss at Falconer/Cassadaga Valley/Maple Grove. Officials ended the contest after three quarters.
“We lost Hunter Larson last week for the season,” Silver Creek/Forestville head coach Sean Helmer said about the team’s injuries. “We had a couple kids I don’t think we’ll see next week. It’s really hard to say where we’re at. There’s a difference between 30 people on a team and having 11 kids that are ready to play football safely.”
Silver Creek is slated to visit Franklinville/Ellicottville on Friday.
Odds and ends
• Another week, another multi-touchdown performance by Jamestown’s Jaylen Butera. He finished with five (three rushing) during the Red Raiders’ 42-37 win at Williamsville South on Friday. South had a look at a potential win, but Sincere Green’s interception in the end zone on the game’s final play enabled The News’ top-ranked large school to escape.
• Lackawanna bounced back from last week’s loss to F/E by crushing JFK 42-8, with Amir Douglas rushing for three TDs and Sunday Ikegwuonu leading the defense with seven tackles and a safety.
• A big week for Class AA contenders begins Thursday night at All High Stadium with Clarence visiting Bennett. On Friday, it’s Orchard Park at Lancaster in a rematch of the past two Class AA championship games.