As road trips go, you would be hard-pressed to top the nearly 400-mile trek in each direction that Monsignor Farrell (Staten Island) faces this weekend as the football team travels to Buffalo to take on St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute (Buffalo). It requires a journey through both New Jersey and Pennsylvania and the better part of seven hours in good weather.
That's not bad as far as intersectional clashes go, but at least it doesn't require a passport (no cheap jokes at New Jersey's expense, please). There will be a border crossing required Friday, however, when Notre Dame Catholic (Burlington, Ontario), travels about 3½ hours to the Rochester area to take on Bishop Kearney (Rochester).
It's the second U.S. trip for Notre Dame, which traveled 9½ hours each way to beat Coloma (Mich.) 41-14 last fall near the shore of Lake Michigan.
It's the first time in recent memory that a Section V team has taken on a squad from Canada. You might have to go back to Aquinas Institute vs. St. Michael College School from Toronto to find a comparable matchup for a Rochester school.
Bishop Kearney, featuring Rutgers recruit Quentin Gause at linebacker and running back, has a scrimmage and one game under its belt after opening practice Aug. 16. Notre Dame will be coming in with no live experience this season. In fact, the school had to get association approval to start practice a week early because the Kearney game comes a week ahead of the normal openers in Ontario.
The game will be played under U.S. rules, meaning the Canadians will have to adjust to a shorter and narrower field with smaller end zones. Canadian rules also allow for more players (12) on the field but also just three downs to make a first down.
Finally, the Canadian version is much more motion-friendly. Multiple offensive backs other than the quarterback can be in motion – including toward the line of scrimmage – at the time of the snap. That's a no-no south of the border.
"We're ready for it," Notre Dame coach Chad Wozney told the New York State Sportswriters Association. "It was a little bit of a struggle the first time, against Coloma, because motion is such a part of our game. We had about 12 illegal procedure penalties that game."
Notre Dame's 46-player roster will be larger than Kearney's. But Wozney, who is in his 10th year of coaching, said that's a bit misleading because he has a no-cut policy, so several inexperienced players will need more time on the practice field before they're ready to contribute. And he has no illusions about getting first crack at some of the top athletes at Notre Dame.
"Football's important here," he said. "But it's secondary to hockey."
INJURY BUG BITES SECTION II
Basketball coaches love seeing their players featured in The Post-Star in Glens Falls the third weekend of March. That means the team is still playing and has reached the New York State Public High School Athletic Association final fours, which the paper covers with a fervor that takes a backseat to no publication in the country.
Football coaches, though, may take a pass if the paper offers to put one of their players on the cover of its preseason special section.
Glens Falls senior quarterback Dan Burton and Hudson Falls junior linebacker Codee Carlisle, each featured last week in the "Kickoff 2010" preview, were injured when their teams met in Week 1 of the season.
Burton jammed a toe on his right foot three plays into his team's 27-6 victory and was unable to return. Carlisle went down with an injury in the second quarter, but coach Bill Strong said it was nothing serious.
SECTION VI FOOTBALL LOSES ITS LEADER
Chuck Funke, coordinator of Section VI football for 26 years, died last week on the eve of the season following a brief battle with stomach cancer. He was 67.
Funke's last two seasons in charge of western New York football were memorable. Section VI schools won an unprecedented four of five NYSPHSAA championships each year. A moment of silence was observed in his honor at many local games Saturday and Sunday.
He was 38-27 as a coach at Iroquois from 1974-81, surrendering that role to work as an administrator in the district and take on more responsibility with the football committee.
Funke's background as an administrator helped him forge alliances with principals and superintendents.
He helped the push for the formation of the NYSPHSAA playoffs that began in 1993 and developed the postseason bowl games designed to give non-playoff teams in the section the chance to play two extra games each fall.
For the moment it's unknown whether his final pet project – a series of Week 1 games between Buffalo and Section V schools tentatively scheduled to begin next fall in Rochester – will get off the ground.
Funke is survived by his wife of 45 years, Jane.
OFF TO A STRONG START
Football coaches generally don't walk away from the job when there's a boatload of returning talent on the horizon. That's a nice way of saying that the expectations for new coaches shouldn't be too high.
But the newbies in Section III got off to a fine start, with five of nine first-year coaches winning their debut: Tom Fears at General Brown (Dexter), John Cosgrove at Institute of Tech (Syracuse), Joe Fiacchi at Marcellus, Brett Cardillo at Sauquoit Valley and Mike Moody at West Canada Valley (Newport).
SIT is a first-year varsity program coming off a 5-2 JV season. Cosgrove is in for a reunion of sorts this weekend when the Eagles travel to Bishop Ludden , where he coached for 16 seasons.
* Jericho has dropped varsity football this season due to a lack of players. AD John Mankowich told Newsday the school will field a junior varsity team, with 11th graders with no prior experience eligible to play.
* Minisink Valley (Slate Hill) kicker Kyle Cazzetta set a Section IX record with his 51-yard field goal in Friday's 27-20 victory over Pine Bush. The effort was one yard better than the 1991 field goal by Middletown's Rick Wright — against Minisink Valley.
The state record is a 62-yard kick in 1990 by Ward Melville's Todd Sauerbrun, who went on to an NFL career as a punter.
* Athleticism runs in the Lasda family. Ithaca senior Riley Lasda, a Penn State lacrosse recruit, ran 18 times for 241 yards and six touchdowns in a 65-21 romp against Southside (Elmira). His father, Brian Lasda, was a feared faceoff specialist on some great Cornell University lacrosse teams in the late 1970s.
John Schiano, who has written about high school sports in western and central New York for more than 25 years, covers New York for MaxPreps. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.