First time for everything: McKinley vs. South Park

Sports

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — There’s a first time for everything, and for the first time in the 40 year history of Section VI, the Class A title game will feature two Buffalo Public Schools.

“I think it says a lot about the Buffalo Public Schools Athletic Department, and how far we’ve come in the past 10 years,” South Park head coach Timothy Delaney said. “When you add them all up, this is the ninth and tenth appearance for a city program at the Sectional level in the past 10 years.”

“Somebody’s going to win, and it’ll be our third Sectional title as a district. Hopefully whoever’s able to pull it out will go a little bit further and possibly make a run into the State Finals,” Coach Delaney said.

“It’s very exciting, it’s huge for the city of Buffalo,” McKinley head coach Brian Davis said. “Just having two city schools here for the first time, we’re making history.”

While the coaches of both teams understand the impact this meeting has for the Buffalo Public School system, the importance is not lost on the student athletes, either.

“It’s exciting. For us having a chance to do it and make history, that’s what makes it exciting for us to make it happen,” McKinley receiver Henry Hunter said.

“It’s good, because people are starting to take notice that Buffalo Public Schools are starting to do better, and both of our programs are starting to do better,” South Park receiver Andre Augustiniak said.

“It’s very exciting, everybody’s been talking about the game,” South Park running back Keith Jackson said. “It’s a hype game, we’re just ready to play in it.”

The McKinley Macks have been a Cinderella story all season long. After being picked to finish seventh in A1 at the beginning of the year, the Macks used that as motivation to finish with an undefeated regular season. On Friday, McKinley added to their success by becoming the first team in school history to advance to the Section VI Championship game.

“We’re just staying focused, our eyes on the prize,” Coach Davis said. “We know that this is just a stepping stone to where we want to go. We have greater aspirations to go further throughout the state playoffs, and we know that this is just an opportunity and an obstacle that we have to climb over to get to where we want to go.”

“We’re mostly figuring out what our potential is, can we keep pushing and keep fighting,” McKinley running back Takeo Funderburk said.

“Mostly our hard work and dedication has pushed us through, being together and working together,” Hunter said.

The Sparks, on the other hand, have been in this position before.

“It’s our fourth time in the past six years to play here. No matter what, it’s always exciting to play where the Bills play, and play for a Sectional Title,” Coach Delaney said. “This past week, that was the message, to be able to get back here and be able to play for a Sectional Championship. The kids were really excited Friday night when we were able to beat Grand Island and get here.”

While South Park has seen success in recent years, including a 2015 Class A State Title, the 2019 season has been an absolute domination for the Sparks. In their 9-0 season, South Park has averaged 41 points a game, while only allowing nine.

“Our offense, wide receivers, running backs, most teams only have the team and then one serious player, but we’ve got multiple players just like that,” Jackson said. “It’s hard to contain all of us.”

“Our whole team commits to play. It’s hard to beat us when we all take it serious,” Augustiniak said.

The undefeated Sparks and undefeated Macks meet in the Class A Final at New Era Field on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3:15 pm. With your high school coverage, Mary Margaret Johnson, News 4 Sports.

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