Monday, September 12, 2011

Kenmore West Blue Devils boys varsity volleyball team excited about upcoming season

By: Dave Ricci

When asked about the prospects of the 2011 season coach Gary Tocke smiled and simply said, “If I wasn’t excited I wouldn’t be here.”

As Tocke leads the Kenmore West Blue Devils boys varsity volleyball team into the season he knows there are plenty of question facing his young team. But he believes they can find the answers together.
Graduating 10 of 13 kids will indeed create plenty of questions. But the legendary Ken-Ton coach is certainly savvy enough to know how to dissect a new season and what to tell his boys to get them off on the right foot.

“I tell everybody, never sell us short. Everybody is undefeated (in camp).” Tocke said with a wink. “That’s what I told them. I said you’re gonna have to work hard because the level is going to be different than what you are accustomed to. So you’re going to have to put forth the effort. You’re going to have to just play with a lot of intensity. And if they do, then we’ll see what happens. But I always tell them I’ll tell you how we did in the season in November (at our banquet).”

Ben Bowler and Alex Keller are the two key departures from the Blue Devils roster.
Keller was an extremely intense and athletic young man who could seemingly play just about anywhere.
Bowler, meanwhile, was a four-year starter and was one of the best setters the program ever had.
Though a kid like Bowler comes along once every 10 years, if your lucky, the Blue Devils know it’s about looking to the future and making the most of the talent in camp.

Leading the way will be Tocke’s three senior returnees, Tim Kelly (outside hitter), Scott Lachut (right side) and Tyler Appenheimer. Kelly and Lachut are expected to see a considerable amount of playing time.
“I think Scotty Lachut and Tim Kelly can possibly take us a to a pretty good level,” said Tocke.

“They’re both sound players. They have limitations to a point, but they have a lot of other qualities that make them better than average. They’re the ones that have to sort of lead us down the road and bring the younger kids up.”

Knowing that he and Lachut will most likely be the voices of leadership on the floor Tim Kelly said that thought the team is young in varsity years, he feels the continuity built through years of friendship will help them succeed.

“Everyone works hard everyday,” said Kelly. “We all come in. We all get ready together and we just try our best.”

Junior Alex Schwagler, up from junior varsity, is one of several players that are in the mix to win the job of starting setter. Schwagler is looking to rebound after an injury cut his JV season short last year.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Going gets tough for JFK Lady Bears

By: Jennifer Orr

When the going gets tough, the team needs to get tough, too. At least that’s the way the JFK Lady Bears varsity soccer team sees things as a group in a highly challenging division.

And so, for the Lady Bears, practice has been a big part of their day-to-day activities. Two solid hours of practice and a half hour of conditioning everyday have become part of the norm for every member on the team.

“Practice, conditioning, skill work,” said coach Rich Mattison, who has taught physical education classes to 14 of the 20 girls on the team since they were in third grade. “I always emphasize that they have to practice the way they expect to play.”

Many of the Lady Bears have played soccer together for years, which can be highly beneficial for the team. Mattison called attention to a new kind of spirit within the team – a new attitude, he says.

“The attitude is different in this year’s team. They’re coming in this year expecting to win more than they have in the past. They want to do it, they know they can do it, they’ve been working hard,” he explained. Among this season’s top players are seniors Emily McGee and Krysta Wiess. McGee, a forward, is probably one of the fastest kids in the state according to Mattison, who added that she is a top prospect for college track teams. Wiess, also a forward, is known for her agility and exceptional ball handling skills among her coaches and teammates.

Other leading players on this year’s roster include senior midfielders Sarah Kapanek and Erin Kraus, and sophomore defensemen Ashley Wieczorek,Katelyn Sikora. Between the team rookies and veterans, there is the right amount of everything – equal parts experience and enthusiasm.

Mattison has one prediction for JFK’s season opener at Lackawanna High School on Wednesday, Sept. 7, which is “to come out hard, play hard, and win the game.”

And as for Mattison’s thoughts on his players, many of whom he has known since their elementary school days: “It’s nice to be coaching at a varsity level with a bunch of girls who are not only good players, but also good people.”

Friday, August 26, 2011

Campus confidential: Amherst High School

By: Mike Pidanick, Metro Source

The Amherst High School football team opened some eyes last season in the ultra-talented Class A. With many of the same names on the roster this season, the Tigers hope to be even better.

“We’re really picking up where we left off last year,” said linebacker Baba Cole, one of seven returning starters on defense. “We feel like we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with. We want to improve on last year and make another run for it.”

After a 6-1 regular season last season, Amherst seems poised for another strong season in 2011. Speed will be the name of the game for the Tigers, who plan on using that turf field to their advantage.

“We’re going to be a spread on offense and an eight-man front on defense that comes at you from all angles. So we’re going to try to use that speed and athleticism for us.

“We should be fun to watch. Win, lose or draw, we should be fun to watch.”

The speed will have to be the strength because there is a lack of size on Amherst ‘s roster. But the effort is there and the Tigers hope the skill guys will find the room to make things happen.

“We’re thin up front,” Murphy said. “We just don’t have a lot of big guys right now at our school that are out playing. So we have to piece that together a bit.

“But we’re going to be fine - the kids we have are working hard and getting better.”

Junior quarterback Justin Twarog is back to lead the offense and he’ll have some weapons in senior receiver Brandon Borden as well as Jonathan Belton, who Murphy said “is a real threat down the field.

The Tigers lost all-star running back Keeon Colvin to graduation, but they’ve got a talented new back to replace him. Senior Justin Burke transferred to Amherst after running for 1,800 yards last season at St. Mary’s of Lancaster .

Defensively, the Tigers will be led by senior linebacker Marquis Artis, who topped 100 tackles last season. Senior Matt Gallineau, a four-year starter, and senior Baba Cole are also back at linebacker.

“We have a good core of guys coming back,” Murphy said. “They know how to practice and they know what it takes.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

National Grid reaches out to customers

National Grid is reaching out to their customers across New York and other states to share some energy-saving tips with them this summer. Energy usage can skyrocket in the summer, especially during the long, hot spells when everyone turns on their air conditioning and fans, and refrigerators and freezers are doing double duty. Conserving energy usage elsewhere doesn’t just help lower energy bills, but it also helps ensure that there is plenty of power to go around.
The energy giant’s elaborate system of measuring how much power there is from moment to moment indicates that there shouldn’t be any problems keeping up with the energy demand of the 6 million customers they serve, but also hope that those same customers will help them stretch the available energy even further.
“Power usage and demand is literally a minute-by-minute balancing act,” says National Grid’s Steve Brady. “Behind the scenes there is a lot of activity that the average customer doesn’t even think about.”
That includes rerouting power from low-use areas to high use, falling back on backup generators when the usage gets too high and even shutting some generators off if the usage drops. It also takes into consideration not just the energy usage readings of the moment, but also trends over the past years, economic activity and customer patterns.
In Western New York, there tends to be periods of holding patterns, but when the temperatures spike as they have been recently the power usage spikes with it. In the worst case scenario, this can lead to power brownouts -- instances where the power delivered to the home is enough to run appliances but not at peak efficiency -- or even blackouts. National Grid’s elaborate systems are in place to keep that from happening, but that job is made much easier with their customer’s help.
Their web site -- -- has a number of energy-saving tips for making the home’s energy usage more efficient. From things to do in the kitchen to ways to make laundry and lighting less of a drain on the checkbook, there are a myriad of tips that don’t take much to implement. Many of these tips are something that only a power company might think of.
Changing the thermostat just a few degrees can definitely have an impact on the bottom line -- a 3 degree temperature change in the right direction can cut almost 20 percent off the energy usage for the home’s heating and cooling. And something as simple as closing the curtains on the side of the house where the sun is shining can cut down on how hard the air conditioning has to work to keep the house cool.
Some energy-saving tips require a one-time investment, such as changing the bulbs to a more efficient type or lower wattage. Putting new gaskets on the refrigerator and keeping fans and vents clean will also make a big difference.
“It’s the small things,” Brady says. “If you start putting even two or three of those together, you can start to see a real difference. Energy usage has to do with the economy as well as the weather. People are really starting to take energy costs seriously and finding ways to save.”

Friday, August 12, 2011

Travis Pitzonka leaves Lancaster for St. Francis College

by Mike Pidanick, Metro Source

As Travis Pitzonka leaves Lancaster for St. Francis College, he sees opportunity as he heads to the next level.
“I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “They run a 3-4 defense and all four of their linebackers from this past season graduated. So everything is wide open.
“I’m going to come in and work hard and earn my spot.
And when Pitzonka says he’s going to work hard, he means it. Last summer, he was one of Lancaster’s Iron Man Award winners based on offseason workouts. That effort paid off when the games started to count for real as Pitzonka, a 6-foot, 215-pound linebacker, had an outstanding senior season for the Redskins.
He collected 103 tackles and won the Tomahawk Award as the team’s hardest hitter. He also earned Class AA South 1st Team honors.
He hopes to play as soon as he can at St. Francis, a Division I Football Championship Subdivision program located in Loretto, Pa. The Red Flash are coming off a disappointing 1-10 season and Pitzonka hopes to be part of the solution.
“I can’t wait to get down there and get to work,” he said.
Before he departs, Pitzonka had one last chance to show Western New York what he can do. He earned Defensive Player of the Game honors for the South team in a 28-20 victory in the the 36th annual Kensington Lions Club’s All-Star High School Football Classic.
“I had a great time being part of this game,” said Pitzonka, who had nine tackles and an interception. “It was great to play again with two of my teammates, Jeremiah Luderman and Austin Bauer - it was fun to play with them for a game, and I got to meet a couple of new friends, too. It was a great time.”