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 #9
Lackawanna head coach Adam Tardif was named the Week 9 Buffalo Bills and ADPRO Sports Coach of the Week after the Steelers beat Salamanca 14-0 in the first round of the Section VI Class C playoffs on Oct. 26.
Lackawanna (5-4) will now look to stop Medina from extending a 15-game winning streak with a trip to Highmark Stadium for the Class C sectional final on the line. The Steelers will also be looking for payback against the Mustangs after New York State's No. 1-ranked team in Class C took a 34-16 win over them on Sept. 18.
The fact that the Steelers are going to the Class C semifinals is nothing short of a miracle. The Steelers had to forfeit a game against Clymer/Sherman/Panama on Oct. 15 because they only had 15 eligible players.
- While the Steelers made it into the Class C playoffs winning their last two regular season games, they had to travel to take on an 8-1 Salamanca squad. And once again, the defense stood tall by tallying its second shutout of the season. Lackawanna has now allowed only eight points over the past 10 quarters.
- In the playoff win over Salamanca, the teams were locked in a scoreless tie at the half. But in the third quarter, WR Matt Rodriguez caught a touchdown pass from QB Billy Gechell to give the Steelers a lead, followed by Gechell tossing the 2-point PAT pass to WR Ashlin Alexander-Hall, making it 8-0.
- Salamanca looked to tie the game and drove down to the Steelers' 6-yard line. Then DB Devon Glover made a huge defensive play when he stripped the ball and recovered the fumble to end the drive.
- In the fourth quarter, Alexander-Hall ran 35 yards for a TD, giving the Steelers a 14-0 lead to put things out of reach. Lackawanna is now one step closer to winning its first Section VI championship since 2008.
- Tardif has coached at Lackawanna in various roles for 24 seasons and was named the head coach in 2011.
- He won a Section VI title on the Steelers staff as a defensive coordinator during their 9-1 season in '08. As head coach, Tardif has led the Steelers to one divisional title back in 2017.
- Tardif teaches biology and physics at Lackawanna High School.
In the Community
- Tardif and his staff provide team dinners paid for by the Lackawanna community to their football team. With many of their kids coming from single-parent households, and each Steeler player qualifying for free lunches at Lackawanna, Tardif believes the team meals are a way to bring a family atmosphere to the program. He wants the kids to feel special every week, so it is a way for the Steelers staff to show them that the community values them as contributing members of the Lackawanna community.
- Tardif is also connected to service in Lackawanna through Sam Pinelli, a former football player and graduate of Lackawanna High School. Pinelli worked in Western New York as a professional chef for over 15 years. After developing a friendship with Pinelli, Tardif had a thought in mind that sprouted roughly a decade ago.
- Many football teams had team pasta dinners the week before football games in various school districts throughout WNY. Tardif pitched an idea to Pinelli about cooking for the Steelers and providing team dinners the day before football games instead. Pinelli took the idea and reached out to local restaurants, and since then, Ilio DiPaolo's, The Mulberry, BW's Smokin' Barrels Barbecue, J's White Elephant and Bella Pizza have all stepped up and donated meals for the past ten years to the kids playing Lackawanna football.
- The Steelers coaches also serve the food to the kids each week. Parents have supported and helped out as well. Former and current principals throughout Lackawanna City School District have paid for dinners for the entire team too. Additionally to the meals, former players and community members talk to the team each week. The theme is usually what it means to be a "Steeler" or what was significant to them about attending school at Lackawanna.
Several Steelers have earned honor roll status at Lackawanna High School entering the 2021-22 school year.
Health & Safety
The Steelers coaches are certified in the heads-up tackling program through USA Football. Tardif has also attended the USA Football tackling certification programs for the last three seasons.
Youth Football Connection
- Lackawanna varsity football players give back and help out with their local little league programs. Many of the Steelers' varsity assistants and JV coaches are former little league coaches and players from the Lackawanna Little Loop program. Many on staff have families with players in both the high school and little league programs.
- The Steelers' varsity staff has also set up coaching clinics for the youth coaches in the past.
Adam and his wife, Melanie, have three sons; Aidan (14), Aaron (11) and Asher (6). Adam met Melanie at the University at Buffalo, as he was a football player there and she was a cheerleader. Melanie, who was a high school cheerleading coach, is who Adam credits for inspiring him to become a teacher and coach.
Rochester Region Coach of the Week #9
Red Jacket's Josh Henninger is the Week 9 Buffalo Bills and ADPRO Sports Rochester Region Coach of the Week after he led his team to a 54-6 win over Charles Finney/Northstar in the first round of the Section V playoffs.
Playing in the 8-man ranks, Red Jacket is now 7-0 and will play Pembroke in the sectional semifinals on Nov. 5 at Canandaigua Academy. Red Jacket is trying to go back-to-back after winning its first Section V title in 8-man last spring.
- Red Jacket led 40-0 at the half and never looked back. Kyle DaMore led the offense as he rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns. He also tossed a pair of TD passes.
- Parker Moore also rushed for two scores, while Mason Pollot punched in a TD of his own. Daltyn Hanline caught a TD pass as well and returned a punt to the house.
- Defensively. Matt Allen and Ethan Lenney each had two sacks in the win.
- Henninger has been coaching at Red Jacket for nine seasons and was on staff when the program won Section V Class D titles in 2013 and 2014.
- He was named the head coach in 2015 and has posted a record of 46-12 over his seven seasons, including a 13-game winning streak dating back to the start of the fall II sports season.
- Henninger also had to oversee the program's move to 8-man football, which Red Jacket started during the fall sports II season to close the 2020-21 school year. Red Jacket adapted to the 8-man game quickly, winning the sectional title last spring with an 82-6 win over Pembroke.
- Henninger is highly involved at Red Jacket and in the Manchester-Shortsville Central School District as a fourth grade teacher.
In the Community
- Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Henninger annually hosted a 'Service Bowl' during one of Red Jacket's varsity games, to honor the men and women who have dedicated their time to the U.S. military. During the week of that game, the varsity team picks an area in their district to clean sweep. The program's most recent cleanup took place at the Manchester Gateway Trail.
- Henninger always offers his team to help around the school district when needed, whether cleaning, moving things, etc. This summer, as Red Jacket prepared for its weight room to be fully renovated, Henninger jumped at the idea of having his team help to move all the equipment into storage and get the room cleaned before the installers came in.
Coming out of the 2021 spring football season, Red Jacket had five players from its squad qualifying for NYSPHSAA scholar-athlete honors.
Health & Safety
- Red Jacket football partakes in strength & conditioning programs both in season and in the off-season. Henninger enjoys having his players in the gym lifting weights, going over proper techniques and forms. He has a handful of volunteers and assistants that he carefully manages roles for, working with the players to better their team and individual skills.
- Henninger also goes through a routine concussion protocol training every two years, and his athletes are tested through the IMPACT concussion test every year. He is aware of the impact heat can have on players and knows proper hydration techniques to combat it, so he ensures water gators are on hand at practice, encourages the kids to bring their own water (due to COVID), and communicates thoroughly to families when practices/games need to be adjusted due to inclement weather.
Youth Football Connection
Red Jacket hosts a youth football camp over the summer and usually has a game where it has the youth players come on the field during team warm ups for the varsity, and during that week the team practices with them one day. Their youth program has been a notable squad kids and parents look forward to every summer, helping to build Red Jacket football from its grassroots and allow kids an opportunity to work with Henninger's varsity squad.
Henninger has been married to his wife, Casey, for seven years. The couple has two daughters, Savannah (4) and Kennedy (1).