Webster volleyball rising, girls wrestling growing and football season is here

Welcome to the Democrat and Chronicle's Varsity Voices high school sports newsletter.

Almost all sports in Section V or the greater Rochester region of the state have begun, with the kickoff of football taking place this weekend. Watch for our coverage of the season openers.

Democrat and Chronicle writers Marquel Slaughter and James Johnson, along with Daily Messenger sports editor Bob Chavez, each week plan to share what's happening in the region from girls golf to boys soccer to 8-man football.

Watch out for Webster

Webster's Zach Zian sets the ball against Rush-Henrietta.
Webster's Zach Zian sets the ball against Rush-Henrietta.

Coach Mike Fusare's Penfield team lost two matches during last season's state title run.

One of those matches were to coach Greg Kennedy's up-and-coming Webster team. Fusare believes Webster's Lakers have a serious shot a contending for this year's Section V Class A title.

Kennedy, who enters his 33rd season coaching, returns three strong seniors in Zach Zian, Griffin Monrad and Evan Lukasiewicz who guided the Lakers to a section semifinals appearance last fall.

"If they're not the team to beat, they're one of them," said Fusare said.

Girls wrestling at Waterloo

The seed in Section V was planted earlier this summer and now, the sport of girls wrestling is taking root.

Waterloo announced on Tuesday that the Board of Education this week unanimously approved the addition of girls wrestling as a varsity sport. It is the second school to add girls wrestling at the varsity level, following Canandaigua Academy’s announcement in June.

“This is an up-and-coming sport and I am very excited to have this opportunity,” Thomas said in a news release. “I am optimistic that we can build this program and create something special.”

Girls wrestling officially was granted the status of “emerging sport” in late July by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. By definition, that means at least four Sections in New York have at minimum four participating schools at the varsity level. NYSPHSAA is forming an official committee to explore the sport’s future.

NYSPHSAA estimated that approximately 300 girls wrestled at the varsity level last season but most of those girls wrestled against boys. Section V had approximately 52 girls wrestling.

Section V Football Class C & Class D

There are 12 teams in Section V Football Class C this season and 10 in Class D, but not every one of those teams have full eight-game schedules.

Some of those teams have seven opponents with a bye week. The gaps in schedules for those teams were caused by shifts made by other teams, after homecoming and other events at their schools were set. Bolivar-Richburg moved into 8-man football from Class D just two days before official practices began.

"We were able to shuffle games around so that no one has two byes," Barker said.

Some teams chose to play seven-game schedules this fall, with the idea of using a bye week before season-openers to ease players into the season. Hornell and Penn Yan/Dundee plan to scrimmage on Sept. 3, while other teams in Class C play games that count in standings.

Teams must play seven games, not including forfeits, in order to qualify for Section V tournaments. The use of a power seeding points system to rank teams by Section V Football is supposed to lessen the impact of seven-game schedules versus eight-game schedules.

"It’s the fairest way to do it, because it's based on strength of schedule," Barker said.

Avon football preview

Note: For previews of more than 30 other Section V football teams, please check out our coverage at this link.

There is a short list of teams in Section V Football that remain championship contenders, even after losing a 1,000-yard rusher, a 1,000-yard passer and other standouts to graduation.

Avon, which has played in the last two Section V Class D championship games, is in that club. Look for the team's 25th season with Andy Englert as coach to be a strong one, despite just four offensive and four defensive starters back on this year's team.

“You just have to find new guys and get guys in the right spot,” Englert said. "The biggest thing, is the preparation in the off-season. You have guys step up into new roles, and you put the best group out there."

The team's "new" quarterback is a senior who has played the position before. Rich Brice was the named the Most Valuable Player of the 2021 spring Class D sectional final won by Avon. Michael Rowland, a receiver, running back and linebacker in his junior year, probably will be around the ball on offense and defense.

"(Rowland) is one of those kids, a great playmaker, hard-nosed, a three-sport athlete who competes all of the time," Englert said.

Avon football at a glance

Head coach: Andy Englert

Classification playoff race: Class D

Fall 2021 record, season ended: 9-2, lost to Oakfield-Alabama/Elba, Class D semifinals.

Last Section V Championship: spring 2021

Avon football schedule for 2022

Week 1: Friday, Sept. 2 vs. Alexander, 7 p.m.

Week 2: Friday, Sept. 9 road York/Pavilion, 7 p.m. at York

Week 3: Friday, Sept. 16 vs. Oakfield-Alabama/Elba, 7 p.m.

Week 4: Friday, Sept. 23 road Caledonia-Mumford/Byron-Bergen, 7 p.m. at Caledonia-Mumford

Week 5: Friday, Sept. 30 at Lyons, 7 p.m.

Week 6: Friday, Oct. 7 vs. Geneseo, 7 p.m.

Week 7: Friday, Oct. 14 vs. Cuba-Rushford/Hinsdale, 7 p.m.

Week 8: Friday, Oct. 21 at Clyde-Savannah, 7 p.m.

Top matchups

The Week 3 game at home against Oakfield-Alabama/Elba should be a clash of small schools titans. It was Oakfield-Alabama/Elba that defeated Avon and went on to reach last season's Class D state semifinals in one of Section V's best games of the season.

Avon then has to take on Caledonia-Mumford/Byron-Bergen the following week. Caledonia-Mumford/Byron-Bergen is out to win the team's first Section V title since 2017 with nine 2021 starters on offense and nine on defense back in its lineup.

Top returning players

QB/LB Rich Brice, OL/DL Nolan Clar, RB/LB Jake Driscoll, WR/DB Darrik Grahm, OL/DL Dakota Hollada, OL/DL Matthew Malley, WR/DB Ryan Masten, WR/RB/LB Michael Rowland, RB/DB Chris Thompson, OL/DL Bryant Vonglis

Until next time, keep up on Section V's sports scene by going to our high school page.

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JAMESJ@Gannett.com

MSLAUGHTER1@Gannett.com

RCHAVEZ@Messengerpostmedia.com

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Webster volleyball rising, girls wrestling growing and football season is here