The Buffalo Bills and ADPRO Sports are proud to once again partner to recognize some of the best coaches that Western New York has to offer through the 2021 High School Football Coach of the Week Program.
The Bills and ADPRO Sports will be awarding varsity head coaches with the Coach of the Week Award to highlight not only their team's achievements on the field, but also some of the work they are doing off the field in their communities. We will announce winners from the Buffalo and Rochester Regions over the course of 11 weeks, with both regions Coach of the Year being named at halftime of the Bills vs Falcons game on Jan. 2, 2022 at Highmark Stadium.
Each Coach of the Week winner will receive an $1,000 grant from the Buffalo Bills and ADPRO Sports. The respective Coach of the Year winners will also receive an additional $1,000 for their programs.
Winners will be selected by a panel of local high school football experts based on nominations which include information on the coach's commitment to their community and school, team academic performance, team off-the-field community service, coach/team support of youth football in their community, and health and safety protocols for their players.
Buffalo Region Coach of the Week
Bennett coach Steve McDuffie was named the Week 5 ADPRO Sports/Buffalo Bills Buffalo Region Coach of the Week after leading the Tigers to a 48-24 win over Lancaster. The Legends, Section VI Class AA's five-time defending sectional champions, entered the game ranked No. 4 in New York State in AA.
The Tigers led 24-0 at the half and it looked like things might get out of hand early. In the second half, however, Lancaster rallied to tie the game at 24-24 by the end of the third quarter.
With the game tied with about five minutes to play, Bennett's Dominic Allen broke away for a 56-yard rushing touchdown, giving Bennett a 32-24 lead.
Lancaster responded by driving the ball down to the Bennett 4-yard line. The Legends were threatening to tie the score again, but instead, Bennett freshman Noah McDuffie made a tackle on 4th down to end the drive.
Bennett took over, and two plays later, Allen burst up the middle for a 93-yard TD, giving Bennett a 40-24 lead.
With Lancaster running a 2-minute drill late, Bennett DB Jayden Lewis intercepted a pass and returned it 61 yards for a TD to cement the victory.
Allen was simply outstanding for the Tigers, as he rushed 18 times for 308 yards and three TDs. He also added five tackles and an INT on defense. Bennett's running game was on another level in the win, as it compiled 547 ground yards behind Allen, Torey Anderson (150 yards, 1 TD), Jamario Toliver (34 yards), Antonio Davis III (30 yards, 1 TD) and Edgar Key III (25 yards).
Toliver led the Tigers defensively with 15 total tackles, but DT Rashard Perry also wreaked havoc in the middle with 12 stops and three sacks. Perry now has 15 sacks on the year. Other notable showings on 'D' came from Lewis (9 tackles, 2 INTs), Xavier Goodman (10 tackles), Adrian Anderson and Delshon Taylor (8 tackles each) and John Hicks (7 tackles).
As a player, coach McDuffie starred in Section VI football for Grover Cleveland High School. He was a first-team All-Western New York player as a senior and graduated in 1991.
After graduation, he went to the University of Louisville, but after one season, he transferred back home to play four seasons at UB. McDuffie played LB and DE for the Bulls from 1992-96, helping the team to an 8-3 finish in his senior year. It was the first time that UB had finished with a winning record at the FCS Division I level.
After graduating from UB in 1997, McDuffie became a volunteer coach at Grover Cleveland under Al Thomas. He then moved over to St. Joe's, where he was an assistant under Bob O'Connor from 1999-2003.
He then spent two seasons as an assistant back at Grover Cleveland before being hired at ECC as the defensive coordinator under Dennis Greene. At ECC, McDuffie led a defense ranked No. 1 in the country in 2006.
He was named the head coach at Bennett in 2010. McDuffie has led the Tigers to several league titles and one Section VI championship in 2016.
McDuffie, his staff and players all contribute to the Archie L. Hunter community outreach and mentoring programming with YMCA Buffalo Niagara, which also has a scholarship committee in honor of the late activist and Buffalo native in Hunter. The Bennett HC has taken part in that over the last two decades, while many of his assistants have done so roughly over the past 10 years.
The Tigers also host a track and field event over the summer, as well as put together community events annually for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
As for health and safety, the Bennett staff has implemented USA Football tackling techniques that coach McDuffie has learned from taking part in clinics with D-I programs like Boston College, Penn State and Florida.
McDuffie has been very involved with the Westside Little League Football program in its resurgence this fall. He and Tigers DC Anthony Scott took the time out over the summer to make sure the program was having a trickle down effect, first advising their coaches to work with the older kids there, before relaying their teachings to the younger teams and players. They also sponsor the Buffalo Packers little league squad, as they also handle some coaching tips, as well stressing the importance of being students and not just athletes.
The Tigers head coach also wanted to thank Buffalo Public Schools superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash for his support and leadership in helping the program. McDuffie also mentioned BPS athletic director Michael House, Bennett principal Carlos Alvarez and BPS board members Sharon M. Belton-Cottman and Terrance Heard for their assistance as well.
McDuffie has been married to his wife Melissa for 20 years and the couple has three children — Isaiah (22, who is playing with the Green Bay Packers), Gabrielle (20, an All-American basketball player at NCCC) and Noah (15, a freshman on the Tigers roster.)
Rochester Region Coach of the Week
East Rochester-Gananda's Brian Touranjoe was named the Rochester Region's ADPRO Sports/Buffalo Bills Coach of the Week after leading East Rochester-Gananda to a 42-0 win over Waterloo.
ER-G blitzed out to a 30-0 lead at the half and held on to a wire-to-wire victory to hit 5-0 on the season.
The Bombers opened the game with a pair of long drives to take an early lead. ER-G returned the opening kickoff to their own 45-yard line, setting up a drive where the Bombers proceeded to drive 55 yards for a touchdown to open the scoring. Chaunsey Gilbert ran for a 10-yard TD to cap the drive and give ER-G a 6-0 lead.
After forcing a punt, East Rochester-Gananda drove 60 yards for another TD. QB Carter Lathrop tossed a 32-yard TD pass to Manny Sepulveda for a 12-0 lead.
Then East Rochester-Gananda scored three TDs in the second quarter to put the game away.
The ground game was potent with Gilbert rushing 15 times for 115 yards and two TDs and Mike Daniels adding 110 yards and a TD.
The Bombers defense was suffocating as they earned the shutout. Cole Ricci made 10 tackles with two tackles for loss to lead the unit. Jeremy Blanchard recorded a sack and a QB pressure, while Brayden Dohse recovered a fumble.
Tournajoe has been on the East Rochester-Gananda coaching staff for 28 seasons. He was an assistant for longtime coach Dennis Greco for 24 seasons before he was named the head coach four seasons ago. He has posted a W-L record of 21-8 in that time frame.
In two of his four seasons at the helm, Tournajoe and the Bombers have advanced to the Section V Class C semifinals. Touranjoe was a part of ER-G's Section V championship team in 2012, as he has helped the Bombers advance to sectional championship games on five occasions.
Each year, Touranjoe and the ER-G booster club sponsor multiple families during the Holiday Season by purchasing, wrapping and giving gifts to families in need in both the East Rochester and Gananda communities. The ER-G staff also will be sponsoring several families to help out for Thanksgiving with the booster club this year.
Also in 2019, the East Rochester-Gananda football team was named a NYSPHSAA scholar-athlete team, with 28 team members qualifying for individual honors.
For the safety and health of the players, Tournajoe's staff follows all the masking protocols for COVID and tries to be outside as much as possible. Both ER and Gananda's districts have also committed the last several years of replacing the team's helmets with upgraded ones that protect better against concussions. ER-G's staff also constantly preaches and practices correct tackling techniques to take your head/neck out of the tackle, which was spearheaded by USA Football's tackling system.
As far as youth football, both of the combined program's schools merged their youth programs several years ago. Tournajoe and his staff supported them with that implementation and use of ER's high school facilities. Also, several players on the varsity team help out by volunteering and assisting in coaching the youth teams.
Tournajoe is a retired East Rochester assistant principal and has been married to his wife, Sharon, for 27 years. They have one daughter, Christine (22 years old).