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North All-Stars Ready to Rumble

North All-Stars | 44th Annual Kensington Lions Club All-Star High School Football Classic | Wednesday July 31, 2019 | 7pm

Last season the South all-stars dominated the North, 36-0, in the 43rd annual Kensington Lions Club All-Star High School Football Classic. The common theme throughout the evening was the South’s ability to run the football and the North team’s inability to stop it.

Starpoint head coach Al Cavagnaro recognized that last year as an assistant. On the first day of practice Cavagnaro made it a point to remind his players that in order for the North all-stars to make a game of it, they will have to do a much better job defending the run. Within the first half hour of the initial practice, Cavagnaro’s staff was hard at work putting the players through different short-and-goal scenarios. “We saw last year firsthand how good those guys could run the ball,” Cavagnaro said.

“They had more than a handful of kids that were just outstanding and remembering back to this past season, we know we will have our hands full.”

Indeed, they will. With the likes of Shaun Dolac (WSE), Johnny Speyer (WSW) and Aaron Wahler (Cleve-Hill) in one backfield, the North could be in for a long night.

The North all-stars will be up for the challenge. Talking with a handful of players after practice last week they heard all too often about last year’s outcome. In the all-star game there are representatives from just about every school and in most cases it’s their best of the best. “We definitely do not want to let our teammates or schools down,” Jordan Parks (Niagara Wheatfield) said. “Right now it’s about getting to know each other and creating a bond. We all want to win this game.”

Parks is the lone Falcons representative playing in the All-Star Classic but he will be thinking of his fellow seniors and one that remains close to his heart, Michael Ziegler. Ziegler passed away in March of 2018. “Mikey and I were close and I’m wearing this shirt to remember him, he’s out here with me.” Ziegler was only a junior at the time of his death.

Parks understands how lucky he is to be playing in this game. A couple of months after the 2018 season Jordan suffered a medical emergency at home. He spent time at Children’s Hospital and then Strong Memorial in Rochester, NY. A heart monitor was implanted after it was discovered that Parks had an irregular heartbeat. Jordan made an incredible recovery and although he was unable to finish out the basketball and baseball season, he was back on the field last fall as quarterback and team leader for the Falcons. Following his senior season, he was a Class A1 First Team offensive all-star and All-Western New York honorable mention, having rushed for 821 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also threw three TD’s. After Wednesday’s game, Parks’ high school career will officially come to an end; he will attend ECC in the fall.

Newfane is sending three seniors, Jonah Wisniewski (OL/DL), Reese Casinelli (KR/WR) and his brother Tyre (DT). Wisniewski is heading to Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. The Continentals are members of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) where he joins fellow Section VI alumni Nick Fabrizio (Maple Grove) and Christian Snell (Alden) who appeared in this game last year. Wisniewski will be majoring in Biology.

The Casinelli twins have been playing football together since they were 10 years old. They’ve always been teammates and according to Reese it will be a very emotional ride. Tyre is playing his last football game. “I’m done next Wednesday, not exactly sure yet what I want to do,” Tyre said, adding “I’ll make sure to make it count.” He plans on going to school for liberal arts in the fall and as far as football goes “I’ll be leaving everything on the field come Wednesday.” Reese on the other hand is using this week of practice and the game to measure himself against some of WNY’s best. “I’m going to play at ECC in the fall and I know the competition at the next level is much better and more competitive than high school,” Reese said.  Both of the brothers were looking forward to playing with the kids from other schools that they had been battling over the years, especially the kids from Wilson. They seem to both agree that they had developed a special bond with the Lakemen.

Kenmore West’s Cam Crozier and Joe Stewart have been teammates the past three seasons for the Blue Devils. They will suit up on Wednesday and beyond. This fall both athletes will play for the Buff State Bengals where former Ken West teammate Zach Boyes’ (’20) dad is the Athletic Director.

“My biggest regret is not playing my freshman year” Crozier said. “The time went by so fast.” Last season Crozier scored seven touchdowns against rival Kenmore East. He said that was his favorite high school memory. He is looking forward to meeting new people and having a great experience during the course of the week as a member of the North all-stars.

Stewart says he chose Buff State because they will allow him to compete for the running back position whereas other potential landing spots wanted him to play wide receiver. “I would encourage high school players to hit the weight room more, that’s something I wish I had done, that would be my only regret as an athlete.”

Another senior excited about being selected to represent his school is wide receiver Moran Montgomery (Niagara Falls). He played two seasons with the Wolverines. Currently he is still weighing his options on what he will do in the fall. ECC and Alfred University are in the mix. He will be visiting Alfred in the coming days and will then make his decision.

The North all-stars do have an intimidating line on both sides of the ball. Hutch-Tech’s Maxwell Anderson is listed at 6’5, 340. He’s a giant, looked more like 7′ from where I was standing. Jacob Agro (Starpoint), Wisniewski, Scott Becht (Williamsville North) and Jihad Loynes (Bennett) haven’t lost a step and all four are moving on to solid D-III programs.

As long as Cavagnaro has been around WNY football, this is only his 2nd time being involved with this event. “I’m going to enjoy coaching this game, especially my seniors one last time but that’s the cool thing about this game. I told my staff, you’re going to find out that these are really cool kids that want to win. My only rule here is we start at six o’clock. These are football players. So, you really don’t even need to over coach, these guys all get it. The hardest part is learning how to trust your teammates because until today they were opponents. These are the valedictorians of their football programs. They will be ready,” Cavagnaro said.

The 44th annual Kensington Lions Club All-Star High School Football Classic is Wednesday July 31st 7pm at Williamsville South high school. The game will be available via livestream on WNYAthletics.com with a pregame show beginning at 6:30pm.

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