Rich Harris, Kenmore West head football coach, has been named the Buffalo Bills & National Guard HS Football Coach of the Week #8 after his Blue Devils survived a first-round scare and beat Lancaster 29-28 in overtime last weekend.
Senior Martin Bailey rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 43 carries to lead the Blue Devils. He also scored the game-winning two-point conversion in overtime.
"We heard all year long that people put all the respect into the South Division," Harris said. "Our kids felt that our Division didn't get any respect for having some good football teams."
Kenmore West led 21-7 after Bailey scored a touchdown, but Lancaster's Ryan Radke returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to pull the Redskins within 21-14.
After forcing a punt, the Redskins marched to the tying score.
"Radke did a great job," Harris said. "He took them down the field and scored. It was just an outstanding job by him."
The teams were tied at 21-21 at the end of regulation. Lancaster got the ball first in overtime, and scored three plays later on a 3-yard run by Radke. Conor Clarke kicked the PAT to give the Redskins a 28-21 lead, their first of the day.
Kenmore West then took possession and scored in two plays on a 7-yard run by Bailey.
Harris hesitated before deciding to go for two points rather than kick the PAT for the tie.
"We were hemming and hawing on the sidelines," Harris said. "The kids wanted to go for two. I called time and we decided to go for two. The line blew them off the ball and Martin ran in."
Bailey ran for touchdowns of one, three, two and seven yards in addition to his two-point conversion run. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry in the win.
"He never broke off a big run," Harris said. "He just pounded it all day long."
Harris has coached at Kenmore West for 27 seasons, the last 11 as the head varsity coach. His record is now 37-50 with four playoff seasons on his resume.
The Blue Devils tied for the AA North in 2010. They won the Division title outright this fall as they forged a record of 6-1 overall, 5-0 in league play.
"The kids have stayed focused all year," Harris said. "They wanted to win the league and we want to advance."
Harris played high school football at Kenmore West, graduating in 1980. He was twice named an all-league offensive lineman.
Harris also played Division III football at the University at Buffalo from 1982 until 1984.
He was a 3-year starter at offensive tackle and guard and was twice named an All-Conference offensive lineman.
"We had a lot of great coaches at UB then," Harris said. "Everybody who is anybody in Western New York came through UB in those years and coached."
Harris played on the same teams as Depew assistant Brian Wilson and Williamsville head coach Mike Mammoliti.
"Bill Dando, Charlie Donner and Joe Shifflet all coached there at that time," he said. "There were a lot of great coaches there. It's kind of neat to look back on how many great coaches were there."
Kenmore West will now host Jamestown in the Class AA semifinals this weekend.
Harris says that his players have been looking forward to this game since they were eliminated in the Class AA semifinals by Clarence in 2010.
"We lost to Clarence in the semifinals," he said, "and we've felt we have had some unfinished business ever since. We had a lot of players coming back and they all worked very hard over the winter and in the spring. They want to win a championship."
Each week during the 11-week high school football season a committee appointed by the Buffalo Bills will select a high school football head coach as the Buffalo Bills & National Guard Coach of the Week. Each honoree will receive a $2,000 donation to their high school football program from the Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation and New York National Guard. The eleven finalists are also eligible for the Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Coach of the Year Award where an additional $2,000 grant for their high school's football program will be given.
As a result of Harris being named the week eight Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Coach of the Week winner, the Blue Devils football program will be given the $2,000 awarded by the Bills and the New York National Guard.
Bills & National Guard Coach of the Week Winners:
Week 1: Steve McDuffie, Bennett Tigers
Week 2: John Faller, Sweet Home Panthers
Week 3: Dennis Gilbert, St. Joe's Marauders
Week 4: Jason Marsh, Salamanca Warriors
Week 5: Dick Diminuco, Alden Bulldogs
Week 6: Rick Tomm, North Tonawanda Lumberjacks
Week 7: Kraig Kurzanski, Williamsville South Billies
Week 8: Rich Harris, Kenmore West Blue Devils