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 #8
St. Francis head coach Jerry Smith is the Week 8 Buffalo Bills and ADPRO Sports Buffalo Region Coach of the Week after his Red Raiders secured a 22-15 upset win in overtime against rival Canisius. Heading into the matchup, the Crusaders were the No. 4-ranked team in New York State's Class AA.
The Red Raiders, who sit at 5-3 overall, now head into the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association large school playoffs with a bye as the top seed after a 2-0 finish in league play.
- The Red Raiders 'D' really bowed up in the action, as it held a Canisius squad that was averaging 38 points per game through six games scoreless until the 6:41 mark in the fourth quarter. St. Francis held a 12-0 lead into the final frame behind RB Ricardo Kidd, as he rushed for two touchdowns.
- But the Crusaders went down swinging. As St. Francis led 12-7 ate, the Red Raiders looked to run the clock out by bringing it down to less than a minute on the board. The Red Raiders' ensuing punt went off the hinges, though, with Canisius blocking it, which led to a TD and 2-point conversion, giving the Crusaders a 15-12 advantage with 31 seconds left in regulation.
- In the half-a-minute drill, St. Francis QB Steve Otremba Jr. took advantage of Crusader penalties and was able to work the offense downfield on the last possession of the fourth quarter, setting up kicker Luke Nowak to boot a 38-yard field goal to knot things at 15 as time expired.
- After the Red Raiders got on the board in OT, as Otremba linked with freshman Eryan Lawrence for a 20-yard TD, St. Francis ended the game by forcing Canisius to a turnover on downs. The game result marked the Crusaders' first loss to a fellow MMHSAA team since St. Francis defeated them Oct. 25, 2019.
- Red Raiders RB Ricardo Kidd buoyed the Red Raiders offense, totaling 101 rushing yards and those two TDs. But the defensive showing for Nate Henrich (8 tackles), Dylan Walker, Hayden Marling and Gavin Calkins (7 tackles each) also stood out, as the high-flying Crusaders were limited to 216 yards of offense.
- DE Jimmy Scott also played a major role, as the Pitt football commit totaled five tackles and had a game-altering sack on Canisius' OT possession.
- Smith graduated from Bishop Turner High School in 1977. He was a two-year starter at QB and was also on the wrestling, hockey and track & field teams. After graduating from Bishop Turner, Smith went to ECC for two years. He volunteered as a coach at Turner, helping with the JV team.
- In fact, at the tender age of 18, Smith was named the head wrestling coach at Turner.
- After ECC, Smith went to William Penn College in Iowa. He played WR for the Statesmen but a shoulder injury ended his playing career. He then came home and earned his degree from Canisius College.
- Smith was hired as an assistant coach at St. Francis in 1981. In August of 1984, he was hired by the school as a college prep and accounting teacher.
- Smith has been the St. Francis head coach dating back to 1988. In that time frame, he has amassed 16 league championships and the most wins in MMHSAA history (176), which also ranks second behind Canisius legend Johnny Barnes' 287 for all-time wins for a Catholic school coach in the Buffalo Region. Over that span, Smith has also become MMHSAA football's chairperson.
In the Community
- Smith and the Red Raiders staff work with Cross Training Athletics, which states it's vision as "to encourage and equip the hearts of coaches and athletes to be leaders and character for others," as well as its mission "to serve, encourage and train coaches and athletes through character training, camps, competition and coaching mentoring."
- Smith also volunteers his time working with people coming from underprivileged backgrounds and those in the physically handicapped communities.
In recent years, several Red Raiders have been merrited as All-Western New York scholar athletes, with others earning honorable mention status from Section VI.
Health & Safety
- Smith has continued to evolve when it comes to the latest health and safety trends for his football program. Some of those include the 'see all' tackling system and a year-round training program for his players.
- As for the tackling techniques that Frannies has adopted over the years. one of Smith's former players — former Alden head coach Rob Currin — was instrumental in bringing it to the program as he now works with USA Football.
- The Red Raiders also take part in national USA high school coaching clinic procedures as well, including the use of tackling rings and rugby tackling.
Youth Football Connection
Over the past four years, Frannies has played host to several local youth football league championships. Also, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith and the Red Raiders hosted a youth football camp annually.
- Smith has been married to his wife, Cheryl, for 38 years. They have three children; Christopher (OL coach at the College of Holy Cross), Lauren (phys. ed. teacher in Florida) and Joe (English teacher in New York City).
- The veteran head coach also has two grandchildren — Calvin and Nellie.
Rochester Region Coach of the Week
Pittsford head coach Keith Molinich is the Week 8 Buffalo Bills and ADPRO Sports Rochester Region Coach of the Week after his Panthers downed two-time defending Section V Class AA champion McQuaid, 31-21. Entering this tilt at 7-0, the Knights were NYS's No. 2 squad in AA.
The Panthers are now 6-2 and head into Section V's AA playoffs as the No. 3-seed, as they'll host No. 6 Rush Henrietta on Friday in the quarterfinal round.
- Pittsford was able to come back in the win, shaking off a 14-0 first quarter deficit. It was a trio of Panther stars who sparked the bounce-back effort, as QB Caleb Lewis (19-25 passing, 254 passing yards, 3 TDs), WR Jackson Green (8 receptions, 130 receiving yards, 3 TDs) and RB Nick Senko (118 rushing yards) all lifted Pittsford to a 31-7 run in the final three quarters of play.
- In the second half, Lewis broke a school-record for single-season passing yards, tallying over 1,500 yards this fall. Senko has also been strong this season with 822 rushing yards through eight games.
- The upset snapped a 15-game winning streak for McQuaid. It was the Knights' first loss in Section V since Nov. 3, 2018 and Pittsford's first win over McQuaid since 2017.
- Molinich has coached at Pittsford for almost 30 years. He was on staff for 13 years as an assistant on both the JV and varsity levels. Then Molinich was named the varsity head coach in 2007.
- Pittsford has won five division titles under Molinich and have been to the Section V championship game seven times.
- Molinich played high school football at Pittsford as well, graduating in 1988. He played FB on the Ithaca College team that finished 12-1 and won the Division III national title in 1991.
- Molinich, a guidance counselor at Mendon High School, has compiled a career record of 92-40.
In the Community
Molinich has been very involved in the community through his work with Camp Good Days & Special Times — a non-profit organization that works directly with children and families who have been adversely impacted by cancer or sickle-cell anemia. Not only has Molinich volunteered as a counselor at the organization's Keuka Lake-based summer camp, Pittsford football has been involved with the 'Teddi Bowl' benefit game that CGD has been a beneficiary of.
The Panthers are coming off a fall sports II season in which they were named a NYSPHSAA scholar-athlete team, as 22 players earned individual honors.
Health & Safety
Outside of a yearly strength & conditioning training program, Pittsford football also administers USA Football techniques to prevent concussions and other head/neck injuries.
Youth Football Connection
Although Molinich has been known for his duties as the Panthers varsity coach, he has also coached youth football in Pittsford as well.
Keith has been married to his wife, Erin, for 29 years and they have three sons who have all played FB/TE for the University at Buffalo football team — Glynn, Jake and Wyatt. Jake and Wyatt are currently on the Bulls roster this season.