The Bills announced that John Faller, head football coach at Sweet Home High School, and Curt Fischer, head football coach at Maple Grove High School are the 2008 Bills High School Football Co-Coaches of the Year. Coach Faller and Fischer, along with all the Bills Coaches of the Week winners from the 2008 season, were recognized on the field during pregame ceremonies at the Bills vs. 49er's game on Sunday, November 30, 2008. In addition, both coaches led their Section VI high schools to victory at the state championship games in Syracuse.
At the Carrier Dome on Saturday, November 29th the Sweet Home Panthers (13-0) defeated Section II (Albany area) champion Burnt Hills by a 35-28 score to win the Class A high school football state championship. Coach Faller guided his squad to an undefeated season and the school's first-ever football state championship. Faller said, "I'm so happy for Buffalo and Section VI."
Senior quarterback Casey Kacz received the game's MVP award after throwing for two touchdowns and running for one. Sweet Home senior Will Reese had five catches for 149 yards - including a 76-yard touchdown - and ran six times for another 31 yards. Junior D.J. Nettles had a 91-yard touchdown run and three catches for 63 yards. The Panthers defense pressured Burnt Hills into a fourth down incompletion near the end of the game to seal the victory and gave Section VI a tripleheader sweep on Saturday, marking the first time in the 16-year history of the state tournament that one section had won more than a pair of titles.
Faller was excited for his team when he spoke about how they rallied after a couple of turnovers. "The kids stayed fired up. They weren't going to get beat today, no matter what."
In the Class D HS Football Sate Championship game, Coach Curt Fischer led the Maple Grove Red Dragons (13-0) to an overwhelming victory over Section VII champion Moriah, 55-7.
The Red Dragons junior quarterback Chris Secky was voted the game's MVP award accounting for five touchdowns. Secky threw three long touchdown passes (63, 48, and 62 yards) to senior receiver Joe Caporale who had six catches for 175 yards in the game. Jake Larson and Adam Hover also contributed to the Maple Grove offensive firepower as Larson scored two times and rushed for 63 yards on only seven carries. Larson also had 10 tackles, Matt Fox had nine tackles and a fumble recovery, and Andrew Wascher had six tackles and two fumble recoveries to lead the defense. Branden Fein recovered a punt that he also blocked to cap a tremendous effort in all phases of the game for Maple Grove.
Fischer, whose undefeated Red Dragon squad also won the state championship in 1998, said, "This is unbelievable. We went through 10 years of great football players and we didn't get here. This (title) is for them too."
In the Class C title game on Saturday, Southwestern High School scored three touchdowns in a one-minute, 10-second span in the second quarter as the Trojans won their first crown in a rout of Section I (Westchester County) champion Croton-Harmon, 35-7. Finally, on Sunday, the Orchard Park Quakers completed a Section VI sweep when they won the Class AA state title 21-17 over Section IX (Orange County) champion Monroe-Woodbury. The Quakers rallied from 17-0 to win their first state championship under the guidance of 2007 Bills HS Football Coach of the Year, Gene Tundo. With four state championships in football, Section VI (Buffalo area) set the NY record of football state championships by one Section in a season.
This is the 12th consecutive year of the Buffalo Bills Coach of the Week program. Each week during the 11-week high school football season, a committee appointed by the Buffalo Bills selects a head football coach as Coach of the Week. The honorees will receive a certificate signed by the Buffalo Bills Head Coach Dick Jauron, Buffalo Bills Chief Operating Officer Russ Brandon and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, plus a Buffalo Bills Coach of the Week cap and $1,000 donation to the school's football program from the Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation. Recognition of the winning coach will be shown on the Buffalo Bills official website (www.buffalobills.com). At the end of the season, one of the weekly award winners will be named Coach of the Year and will receive an additional donation to the school's football program.
The Buffalo Bills congratulate all of the Coach of the Week recipients and also congratulate the four Buffalo high school football state championship teams!
2008 Bills HS Coach of the Year Co-Winners:
John Faller, Sweet Home High School and Curt Fischer, Maple Grove High School
2008 Bills HS Coach of the Week Winners:
Week 11-Tony Truilizio (Riverside "Frontiers")
Week 10-John Faller (Sweet Home "Panthers")
Week 9-Frank Payne (Iroquois "Chiefs")
Week 8-Eric Jantzi (North Tonawanda "Lumberjacks")
Week 7-Jim Maurino (West Seneca East "Trojans")
Week 6-Lance Cayea (Alden "Bulldogs")
Week 5-Bruce Lakso (Lackawanna "Steelers")
Week 4-Al Monaco (Bishop Timon St. Jude "Tigers")
Week 3-Curt Fischer (Maple Grove "Red Dragons")
Week 2-Rich Gray (Frontier "Falcons")
Week 1-Kraig Kurzanski (Williamsville South "Billies")