2015 BUFFALO SOUTH PARK SCOUTING REPORT
written by TJM
The Spartans, in a word, were tough this weekend as they blew up their section III counterparts at Alumni Stadium. Whitesboro, who entered the field confident in the thought that it was they who had last defeated Maine-Endwell, were taken out of the game almost from the opening whistle - And as every true football aficionado will attest, the knowledge of what your team did last year, let alone what they did five years ago, along with $2.25 will get you a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts these days. In fact, one of the major reasons that High School football is so difficult, especially for coaches, is that from year to year the bio rhythms of a given classes athletic abilities will ebb and flow at their own rate. The administrative and playing personnel can only mold the team that is on the field in any given year, unless of course you’re a recruitment entitled private school, or as it would appear, the Maine-Endwell Spartans.
Maine-Endwell avenged their 2010 loss to Whitesboro with relative ease and are well poised to take a real run at their fifth straight state championship title. Standing in their way in the semi-finals are the Sparks of Buffalo South Park. Having won for themselves their first ever section VI public high school football title, the Sparks will bring a blend of athletic ability and good ole’ fashioned desire to the playing surface in this Friday’s meeting with Maine-Endwell. More specifically, South Park comes equipped with a handful of sharpshooters that have carded outstanding performances throughout the 2015 season and have done so in the biggest games. The teams’ offensive leader and primary standout is quarterback Tyree Brown (7). The 5-10, 175-pound senior has made a living in 2015 with a wildly successful passing game that serves typically as his first and favorite option out of the shotgun offense that he manages. However, in another life Brown might also be a straight-away tailback and leverages quick cuts, speed and illusiveness to rack up big numbers with his feet as well. Brown is made even more dangerous when he is set up behind the spread-style offense as he frequently capitalizes on the real estate that is afforded to him if the pass option is not there. In their section VI title victory over West Seneca East, Brown scored five touchdowns, passing for 274 yards and rushing for 76. His efforts helped the Sparks to a record setting 54 points, the most ever scored at Ralph Wilson Stadium in a sectional championship game. In order to complete 274 yards of passing, however, a team must also have some players to receive those passes. South Park sends at least three receivers downfield on virtually every offensive play, however most of their efficiency is shared between two primary receivers. Wide receivers Dave Thomas (1) and Daryl Moore (2) are dangerous targets on offense and have been the recipients of several big-yardage pass plays setup by Brown. Thomas and Moore, however, serve the team as all-around utility guys and can be dangerous in a number of different situations on both offense as well as defense. In their victory over Brockport last week, Thomas walked off the field having carded 286 all-purpose yards, catching a 65-yard touchdown pass and returning a punt 89 yards for a second touchdown, all while rushing for 66 yards on 13 carries. Moore, on the other hand, earns an impressive second living as the team’s chief linebacker and reserves a penchant for dismantling plays behind the line of scrimmage. Carding in excess of 80 tackles in 2015, his three sacks in the game against Brockport alone thwarted at least two scoring opportunities for the Blue Devils. A true talent and natural defensive standout, his efforts and defensive IQ were instrumental in several other short-gain plays that forced the ball out of Brockport’s hands.
Still, the Sparks will be pitted against Maine-Endwell this Friday. What has made South Park such a formidable squad through ten weeks of play, could very possibly be their undoing against a team like M-E. The Spartans, a notoriously assignment-driven, intelligent and disciplined defensive unit, is sure view the one-dimensional aspect of South Parks offense as a weakness to exploit. In fact, while Brown has thrown for more than 2000 yards in 2015, he is also the team’s primary rushing agent, calling his own number at least 88 times for nearly 1000 rushing yards this season. Buffalo South Park will also be charged with stopping the Spartan option which comes with its own set of difficulties. Maine-Endwell has once again found a way to place a number of very talented runners on the field that are coordinated by one of the states finest quarterbacks in Kyle Balmer. M-E has also diversified its passing package relying first on all-state receiver Mike Palmer and bolstering its options with the addition of running back Kevin Barrett. Finally and simply stated, Maine-Endwell has been there. It’s not without its merit to recognize that the Spartans have spent their past four Thanksgivings playing in championship football games, while the Sparks enter this contest for the first time in the school’s history. That in itself may have the biggest impact on this game.
2015 - PRESS - M-E FINAL FOUR BOUND AFTER 62nd STRAIGHT WIN
written by Kevin Stevens
Consecutive victory No. 62 was a no-doubter, a comprehensive tail kicking administered by Maine-Endwell.
The Spartans put up four touchdowns before Whitesboro gained its initial first down and wound up with a 42-7 victory, extending the program’s state-playoff win streak to a 13th game on Friday the 13th at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.
Five years and a night after absorbing its most recent loss — to Whitesboro in a Class A state quarterfinal — M-E dismantled a group of Warriors that brought into this quarterfinal nine consecutive wins and was fresh off a ninth Section 3 championship.
Thing is, Whitesboro was stepping up in class — considerably.
Next for Maine-Endwell is a semifinal Friday night at Cicero-North Syracuse against either Brockport or Buffalo South Park. Those once-beaten squads will play a quarterfinal 6 p.m. Saturday in Rochester, with a full complement of M-E personnel on hand.
The Balmer-to-Palmer show was again front-and-center for the Spartans, who put up 40 or more points for the third time in the last four games. And the single-digit yield made it three of the last five in that category.
It was 28-0 with 11:24 elapsed, and then two quarters expired before another point was produced.
Each of the first-quarter strikes came from 33 yards or deeper.
“We wanted to jump on them early because we knew they haven’t been down much this year,” Michael Palmer said of the Warriors. “We weren’t sure how they would respond to a little adversity so we wanted to get out there, jump up on them quick and see how things went.
“It turned out really well for us.”
Most Valuable Player Kyle Balmer closed with a 4-for-4 passing night for 108 yards and two scores. He returned an interception 56 yards for another and rushed for yet another. Palmer — Most Outstanding Offensive Player — was on the receiving end of both scoring passes.
Defensively, top honors went to 240-pound tackle Shane Burcume, who was certainly conspicuous among a handful of M-E defenders who made the offensive going just about miserable for the guests from Oneida County.
Balmer’s defensive strike in the final minute — and third on a third-and-7 play — rounded out first-quarter scoring and essentially established that the final three periods would be little other than a necessary formality.
On a play that began at the Warriors’ 39-yard line, Donte Filletti sent a suspect pass that Balmer grabbed near M-E’s 44 and returned most of the way up the hosts’ sideline.
“We just went out and we were doing our assignments, doing what needed to be done,” was Burcume’s matter-of-fact description of the early going. “We flew to the ball and made tackles. And then on offense, we stuck to our blocks and the running backs, QB and the fullbacks did what they usually do, got in the end zone.”
First across the goal line two minutes into play was Palmer, who elevated above a lone defender near the 8-yard line to snatch the ball and then easily complete a 33-yard scoring play.
A bit under four minutes later, Kevin Barrett took the Spartans’ ninth offensive play 55 yards for points. It was a rightward option on which Balmer patiently read and delivered a late pitch, and Barret redirected to his left at about the Whitesboro 42. Balmer rushed for a two-pointer and it was 16-0.
Maine-Endwell took its third possession following a second straight Warriors three-and-punt, and converted on third-and-11 when, after showing sweep, Balmer soft-tossed to John Cerra for a 15-yard gain to Whitesboro’s 47.
Three plays thereafter came Play of the Night.
On first down from the 36, Balmer passed high and deep-right. Palmer adjusted and — with shoulder blades facing QB and within a golf ball or two of the right sideline — got the better of resistance, caressed in the reception and it was a three-TD spread with 1:40 left in the quarter.
“That was pretty nice, pretty special. But that doesn’t surprise me, he does things like that a lot,” coach Matt Gallagher said of Palmer. “Kyle put the ball where he needed it and our line gave him some nice time. You don’t really draw it up like that but when you have athletes like that, sometimes those things work out for you.”
Palmer’s take on the play: “It was a fade route and I was looking over my left shoulder. He threw it, I saw the ball and kind of just watched it go with my head, rotating my head all the way over and watched the ball right into my hands.
“He threw a great ball, there was no way that kid could have made a play on it. He made a great throw and it landed right in my hands.”
Whitesboro (9-2) was twice denied second-quarter opportunities after reaching M-E’s 2- and 16-yard lines, respectively.
The latter chance featured a defensive series on which Brady Wisniewski made a how-do-ya-do stop for a 1-yard gain to the 19, Palmer whacked a receiver following a 3-yard advance, and consecutive incompletions to follow included Barrett batting a football from a would-be catcher near the goal line on fourth down with 18 seconds left in the half.
Whitesboro took the second-half kickoff and advanced 67 1-2 yards to inside M-E’s 1, but on second down Filletti failed to handle a snap from center and Burcume covered a loose football at the 4 That set up a 10-play drive on which a Balmer-to-Barret pass of 24 yards covered the most turf and Balmer kept on an option for a short TD three plays into the last quarter.
Micah Miller (three carries, 52 yards) ran 8 yards for M-E’s final score in the closing minute of play.
2015- M-E LOGS 6th STRAIGHT SECTIONAL FOOTBALL TITLE
written by Kevin Stevens
Stretch it to six consecutive Section 4 football titles for the indomitable Spartans of Maine-Endwell, who’ll dive headong into intersectional playoffs in quest of a fifth successive state championship.
Friday night brought something of a coast to a 40-16 victory over Johnson City in the Class A final at Binghamton Alumni Stadium, extending the program’s win streak to a 61st game.
Quarterback Kyle Balmer scored two touchdowns and four mates put up one apiece on a crazily out-of-whack pleasant November night during which the scoreboard reflected a 32-0 difference midway into the third quarter.
Thereafter it became a matter of protecting — the lead and the blue-clad bodies.
Next on M-E’s to-do list: A return to Binghamton’s East Side for a state quarterfinal, 5 p.m. Friday against Section 3-champion Whitesboro (9-1), which dealt M-E its most recent defeat, Nov. 12, 2010.
This latest addition to the streak wasn’t so much art work — after all, doesn’t need to be. It was rooted in grind-it-out effectiveness with contributors aplenty. And do know, this M-E squad is less-than-healthy, some personnel hurting more than others but as a whole certainly not unabridged.
However, as coach Matt Gallagher said, “Some of the guys were in different spots than they had been in the past and I thought they played great.”
Among those feeling short of fiddle-fit was A-back John Cerra, though no one would have surmised that had they watched as he scored the game’s initial points.
On his third rushing assignment, Cerra started inside on a misdirection play, broke, slipped or muscled through tackle attempt after tackle attempt, and faded to his left to complete a 39-yard TD rush with 6:18 elapsed. That straight-armed block-for-self along the way? Old-school sweet.
What followed was the first of four consecutive two-point failures, shortcomings that the fellas can ill-afford from this juncture forward.
Johnson City’s first possession ended with a fourth-and-10 punt from its 17, and its second with a third-and-5 pass interception by the Spartans’ Andrew Grassi, who collaborated with Balmer on a 60-yard return for points 100 seconds after the initial TD.
Allow Grassi to elaborate: “I saw the ball thrown, made a play, I had my boy Balmer in front of me. He gave me that touchdown. I saw the tight end release, the quarterback throw it and I just advanced on it.”
The spread grew to three touchdowns three plays after Cordell Woolfolk pulled off something infrequently seen: An interior lineman intercepting a screen pass. But that’s what he did, giving M-E possession at the Wildcats’ 29. The TD was Balmer’s doing, a 29-yard, third-down rush on a designed pass play. He dropped, surveyed, took off and, just because, cut middle and stylishly hopped over the final obstacle at the 2-yard line.
Guy not only did it, but sprinkled some spice atop it.
The 18-0 lead held through halftime, and was stretched to 24-0 4:11 into the third quarter when the Spartans rhymed one up, as is their wont.
Balmer-to-Palmer — Michael, that is — for a 14-yard touchdown strike to the back-right corner of the end zone. One-on-one coverage simply ain’t prudent against this receiver_ who dang-near added a second scoring reception midway into the fourth, only to be shoved OB at the 7-inch line after receiving a similar throw.
Remaining M-E touchdowns were produced by Kevin Barrett on a spiffily determined 9-yard rush, and by Balmer on a sneak from a couple inches. Barrett saw A-back action in place of Drew Gallagher, present and supportive but inactive as result of a season-ending knee injury.
“It’s a good feeling to be a part of this, what we have going,” said Balmer, who passed for 91 yards and rushed for 71 in yet another well-rounded outing. “This isn’t our ultimate goal, but we have to celebrate this win against a good JC football team. But it’s not over yet.”
Maine-Endwell picked off four JC passes, with Barrett and Palmer joining in on the defensive thievery.
Johnson City (5-5) got 130 rushing yards and two TDs from Dominic Nadz.
Cerra closed with 85 rushing yards and B-back Scott Clark with 53 on a dozen bangers primarily at the heart of Johnson City’s defense.
“Our guys adjusted to some of the things Johnson City was doing, which I thought was awesome,” Gallagher said. “And we played hard, we played hard-nosed. When you play a big, physical team like that and you’re able to do the things that we did, that’s impressive in my mind.”
2015 WHITESBORO SCOUTING REPORT
written by TJM
The Wildcats entered Friday night’s section 4 football championship game a team that appeared by all accounts poised to give Maine-Endwell a run for the section four championship. Certainly, there is no shortage of tough-nosed athletes amongst the Wildcat ranks and while numbers and demographics have been dramatically altered over the decades since the 80’s hay-day of section 4 football, there is no less enthusiasm in the hearts of the JC faithful. Still, what was only a fifteen point “something to think about” spread in their first meeting with M-E, turned into a bit more of the old “let’s do what we can to keep the margin of our defeat to less than 30” in Friday night’s game.
While Johnson City was able to earn at least one small victory on the night, being defeated by only a 25 point spread, the all too familiar trophy ceremony at the close of the contest saw for the 6th consecutive season, accolades and hardware awarded to the Spartans of Maine-Endwell. M-E, despite suffering a slew of early penalties, were a well-balanced and handsomely tuned unit more characteristic of the team we’ve all become used to watching over the years. As has been true of pretty much every other championship season, the Spartans have dealt with their share of adversity which has presented itself in many forms, yet they have still found a way to place a perfect version of themselves on the field during the state playoffs. In 2015, Maine-Endwell continues to make adjustments, searching for that magical mix of talent and grit that might help them safely through to yet another New York State title.
The measure of Maine-Endwell’s preparedness will be tested early as they’ll enter the ring next week opposite section 3’s most recent champions, the Whitesboro Warriors. Whitesboro did a pretty nice job of dismantling East Syracuse Minoa, formerly the number one team in section 3, to earn themselves a shot at Maine-Endwell in the 2015 regional quarterfinal. Having defeated the Spartans in their last meeting, a 2010 regional quarterfinal in Syracuse, you can be most certainly guaranteed that while most of the players on either team will have only faded recollections of that cold night in 2010, it is all that Coach Matt Gallagher (M-E) and Coach Tom Schoen (Whitesboro) will be thinking about for at least the next five days.
It’s been a long time since M-E has felt the sting of a loss, much less a loss in the state playoffs, but while it was Whitesboro that issued the Spartans their last defeat, they will be dealing with a vastly different Spartan football program on Friday evening. Besides the obvious string of 61 victories and four back-to-back state championships, Maine-Endwell will enter Friday night’s game running an option offense that they’ve been perfecting since losing to the Warriors all those years ago. Having matured into a triple threat offense that takes full advantage of its speed and athletic ability, even the finest defensive counters have struggled against Maine-Endwell in game-time situations. That said, Whitesboro has navigated its way through a pretty tough cast of characters to earn a meeting with the Spartans, defeating both the sections number one ranked team (ESM) last week and dispatching the reigning class A New York State champs (Indian River) the week before. Whitesboro runs a mix of offensive looks setting up in a traditional shotgun and then shifting to a pistol formation. In the shotgun, running backs Mike Cirasuolo (48) and Darnae Camp (6) line up evenly to the left and right of quarterback Donte Filletti (10). In this look, the Warriors will mostly run a Darnae Camp off-tackle or off-end run where he’s especially good at hunting a pecking for seams. Switching back to a pistol formation with only Cirasuolo lining up behind Filletti, Whitesboro reserves the option to run a traditional dive, or send Cirasuolo into the flat for a screen pass. Either way, Whitesboro makes a steady plan of slashing off-tackle to setup the short gain pass and have become quite adept at finding extra yards doing so. Despite appearing a bit slow on the delivery, Filletti has seen his share of success passing the football. In the Indian River game, Filletti hooked up with receivers to throw for nearly 80 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite targets are receivers Matt Parkinson (44) and Nate Salisbury (3).
Maine-Endwell has completed another season unscathed and appears to have secured a good deal of depth in nearly all facets of their squad. With nearly all of their original starters restored to health and ready to play on Friday night, Whitesboro will most certainly be required to step lively. The Warriors will travel to Alumni stadium and meet Maine-Endwell for a 5:00pm start.
2015 PRESS - M-E GRINDS OUT A VICTORY OVER U-E TO PUSH STREAK TO 60
written by Lynn Worthy
The Maine-Endwell football team extended its state-record win streak to 60 games, and claimed a spot in the Section 4 championship game with a win over neighbor Union-Endicott in Friday’s Class A semifinal.
The Spartans absorbed the U-E’s best punch and kept pushing forward for a 28-8 victory at Maine-Endwell High School. The visitors, who lost to the Spartans by 30 points during the regular season, made the Spartans work for every inch. The contest was still a two-possession game going into the fourth quarter.
The Spartans (9-0) advance to play Johnson City, which beat Vestal in Friday’s other semifinal, in next weekend’s Section 4 championship game at Binghamton Alumni Stadium. The Spartans beat JC, 45-30, during the regular season.
The 28 points scored on Friday night matched the lowest scoring output of the season for the Spartans (they’ve scored 28 points on two other occasions). They entered the night averaging 46.5 points.
“They’re a good team,” Spartans head coach Matt Gallagher said. “It’s kind of expected for us to go out and score 50 points. Not when you’re playing a good team. We grinded it out. Sometimes that’s a good thing, going into the playoffs when you have to win those grind out games like that.”
The Spartans were without senior halfbacks John Cerra and Drew Gallagher and junior offensive lineman Josh Wescott due to injuries. Gallagher expects to be closer to full strength next week.
Junior fullback Cordell Woolfolk ran for 91 yards and one touchdown, while Kyle Balmer and Scott Clark (69 yards rushing) ran for one touchdown apiece. Michael Palmer had an interception return for a touchdown.
Senior quarterback Chris Wright led the U-E offense with 89 yards rushing. U-E (2-7) came into the game having put together its best offensive performance of the season in a 38-7 win last week against Horseheads.
“Those seniors over there don’t want to quit,” Palmer said. “They don’t want to lose especially to us, being crosstown rivals. I think they came out (and) they had a chip on their shoulder. They played really tough.”
Woolfolk got the Spartans into the end zone with 11:19 remaining in the second quarter. His one-yard run up the gut capped a 13-play, 80-yard drive. Balmer sprinted in for the two-point conversion to give the hosts an 8-0 edge.
Spartans defensive back Andrew Grassi intercepted a pass on U-E’s ensuing possession, but the Spartans gave the ball right back three plays later on a fumble recovered by U-E’s Mike Rigo at the U-E 45-yard line.
The Spartans were held to 163 yards of total offense in the first half, 80 of those yards came on their final drive of the half as they deftly managed their hurry-up offense after taking over with less than a minute and a 1/2 remaining before halftime. All 56 passing yard by the Spartans also came on that drive.
Palmer came up with the biggest play of that drive, a 32-yard catch and run on a screen pass on third-and-eight from the Spartans’ 22-yard line. He slipped into the flat along the home sideline and hauled in a pass lofted by Balmer with a trio of blockers set up to escort him through the secondary. Palmer darted his way into U-E territory before he got forced out of bounds to stop the clock.
Balmer completed back-to-back out routes for first downs to Palmer and Kevin Barrett, and he tacked on a 14-yard run to get the Spartans in the red zone. Balmer capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run on a quarterback sneak with 16.8 seconds remaining in the half.
“It was huge,” Gallagher said of the drive. “The fact that we were able to put together a drive like that with 1:20 – the kids did a fantastic job of running the offense and running our two-minute drill. When you can do that and you have confidence in your guys to be able to do that, that’s pretty special because that’s obviously going to come in handy.”
U-E looked poised to score on the opening possession of the second half, but Woolfolk delivered a bone-crunching hit to stop U-E running back Josh Greenwood (47 yards) on fourth-and-four at the M-E 9.
The score remained 14-0 going into the fourth quarter. After U-E recovered a fumble at its own 16-yard line to squash a scoring opportunity for the Spartans, Palmer provided his second big play of the night. He came up from his defensive back spot to intercept a pass and return it 10 yards for a touchdown.
“I was looking at the receiver across from me and he ran like a four-yard stop,” Palmer said. “I looked at the quarterback real quick, and he was staring at him. He cocked his arm back, and I jumped the route. He happened to throw it there.”
The Spartans led 28-0 after Palmer's touchdown and a Balmer to Palmer two-point conversion pass. They tacked on another score when Clark muscled his way through traffic in the middle of the field and broke free for a 31-yard touchdown with 3:26 remaining.
U-E’s touchdown came on a 16-yard pass by Anthony Diorio to Zac Camber with 1:53 remaining and the game out of reach.