Kraig Kurzanski, Willamsville South head football coach was named the Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Football Coach of the Week #7 after his team beat Amherst 30-22 last weekend. The Billies trailed 14-7 at the half, but scored the next 23 points and clinched their second consecutive Class A South championship with the win.
"We just needed to rely on our senior leadership," Kurzanski said. "We just needed to get things right in the second half. The kids did a great job."
Williamsville South also had to overcome injuries in the win. Starting WR and DB Cody Stumpf was lost with a knee injury on the third play of the game. Early in the third quarter, QB Trent Ferguson suffered a knee injury and left the game.
"Kids get hurt sometimes," Kurzanski said. "We've been through it before. Last year we got to the quarterfinals and three starters were out. The next guy gets a chance to come in and step up his game. Our kids have always given their greatest effort when they get their chance."
It is not known if either player will be able to play in the playoffs, which start Friday night.
Luke Falzone rushed 20 times for 111 yards and three TDs in the win over Amherst. Tyler Piasecki replaced Ferguson at QB and directed the offense in the second half.
"We turned to the run a little more," Kurzanski said. "We really ran the ball well and Tyler did a nice job running the offense."
Kurzanski was one of Western New York's best linemen when he played high school football at Canisius. He graduated in 1984 after being named a 1st-team All-WNY and 2nd-team All-State as a center.
Kurzanski still looks at the center position as the most important spot on the offense.
"Everything starts with the center," he said. "We put our best lineman in the middle and work out from there. Our center makes the line calls and sets up the blocking for the trap game. You have to have a good center."
After graduating from Canisius, Kurzanski played two seasons at Johns Hopkins University. He started both seasons before transferring to St. Lawrence University.
"I wanted to become a teacher in New York State," he said. "I found out that, with all of my credits, I could get certified in two years at St. Lawrence, so I transferred."
He started for two season at St. Lawrence on teams that finished 6-4 and 7-3.
"I played everywhere from center to right tackle," he said. "I finished my work for a Bachelor of Science degree and then got to do my education core work as a senior to get my education credentials."
Kurzanski landed his first coaching job at South Park High School, where he worked as an assistant for two seasons. He then moved to Oakfield-Alabama where he was an assistant for one season before being named the programs' head coach at the ripe old age of 23.
"I spent nine years there and had a lot of fun," Kurzanski said, "but then my wife and I wanted to move closer to Buffalo."
Kurzanski worked for one season as an assistant coach at North Tonawanda under Eric Jantzi before becoming the head coach at Canisius High School. He stayed at Canisius for three seasons before accepting a teaching job in the Williamsville School District.
While at Williamsville, he served as the head coach at St. Mary's for one season. He was then offered the head coaching job at Williamsville South, a program that had been down for a decade.
Not only has Kurzanski rebuilt the Billies into annual Section VI title contenders, but he has found a home.
"I get to work with 15-to-17 year-old kids from 7:15 in the morning until 7:15 at night," he said. "I love working with young people. It keeps you fresh. It's an awesome responsibility, but I love it."
Kurzanski is grateful that he is able to stay involved with the sport he has loved his entire life.
"This is a great job," he said. "Not once did I wake up and not want to go in to work."
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 Kurzanski being named the week six Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Coach of the Week winner, the Billies 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