Dean Santorio, Grand Island head football coach was named the Buffalo Bills Coach of the Week after the Vikings 23-20 win over Williamsville South last weekend. Despite a heavy rainfall and a muddy field, Nate Benoit kicked a 42-yard FG with :08 left for the winning margin.
"Both teams played exceptionally well," Santorio said. "You couldn't ask for any more from either team. Kraig Kurzanski has done a tremendous job over at Williamsville South."
Despite finishing the season with a 4-3 record, Grand Island was the one team that many feared playing in the first round of the playoffs. The Vikings had won four straight after starting 0-3.
"People have respect for our program," Santorio said. "We lost to three very good programs. We lost to three programs in the Top 7 of Western New York. We played very well in two of those three games."
Santorio says he never lost faith in his players, despite the 0-3 start. "We told our kids that we still believed in them," he said. "We just seemed to let down a bit when things went poorly. I think we understand now that we can't get frustrated and down when a thing or two goes wrong."
Friday night, Williamsville South took a 20-13 lead in the 4th quarter. "Early in the year, that was a situtation that we might not have come back from," Santorio said. "I think our kids showed a lot of maturity in not getting down and fighting back like they did."
Santorio played football at Grand Island under legendary coach Gene Masters, one of four coaches with 200 career wins. "Coach Masters was definitely one of a kind," Santorio said. "He got the most out of his kids, regardless of their talent level. He was old school and expected the best of the players that he had."
Santorio was named a first-team All-WNY quarterback in 1985. He passed for over 1,100 yards in 1984 and 1,300 in 1985. After graduating from Grand Island, Santorio played college football at Westminster College, an NAIA Division II school at the time. He won national NAIA championships in 1988 and 1989 with Westminster.
Santorio has taught Phys Ed at Grand Island High School for the last 17 years and is thrilled with the $1,000 award that comes with the Coach of the Week award. "It always goes back to the kids," he said. "We'll get some equipment that we need or possibly use it for the banquet."
This is the 13th 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 receive a certificate signed by the Dick Jauron, Buffalo Bills head coach, Russ Brandon Buffalo Bills general manager/chief operating officer and Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner. They also receive a Buffalo Bills Coach of the Week cap and $1,000 donation to their school's football program from the Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation. Recognition of the winning coach will also 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 $1,000 donation to the school's football program.
2009 Bills HS Football Coach of the Week Winners:
Week 1 - Kraig Kurzanski Williamsville South Billies
Week 2 - Jason Kolb Burgard Bulldogs
Week 3 - Chuck Tilley Eden Raiders
Week 4 - Jay Sirianni Southwestern Trojans
Week 5 - Len Jankiewicz Lancaster Trojans
Week 6 - Scott Zipp Cheektowaga Warriors
Week 7 - John Faller Sweet Home Panthers
Week 8 - Dean Santorio Grand Island Vikings