by Jeff Cole
In the two previous alumni football games that featured Ellicottville and West Valley central schools, the teams combined for 34 points, all of which were scored by Ellicottville players.
Though West Valley may have laid goose eggs in the 30-and-older-full-contact games, which ended up 13-0 in 2010 and 21-0 last year, both teams still came out winners for having raised more than $3,000 so far for youth football teams in their respective districts.
But, this year’s matchup brings about some changes, as the graduates from Ellicottville Central School will be able to financially aid different groups of gridiron performers and will also face a new opponent: the Salamanca City School District. The teams will take the field at 6:30 p.m. June 9 at the ECS football field. Admission to the game is $5 per person, $3 per student and is free for ages 10 and under.
Timothy Grinols, a 1992 ECS graduate who organized the game and will coach and play for his alma mater’s squad, advised spectators to come prepared to make their own seating arrangements.
“We expect a large crowd, so we recommend that they (spectators) bring their lawn chairs and blankets or whatever because there probably won’t be many seats in the stands left. With Salamanca being so close, I mean it’s been blown up on Facebook. Of course, you never know if they’re actually going to show, but there are a lot of people who have been saying that they are coming to the event,” he said.
Upon learning two-and-a-half months ago that West Valley was unable to play in this year’s game due to reasons he is uncertain of, Grinols contacted Seth Hostuttler, a 2000 Salamanca City School District graduate, who promptly compiled a team to square off against ECS.
“We’re definitely excited to do it,” Hostuttler said of his team playing in the game.
The alumni game was the brainchild of two local midget football team coaches: West Valley’s John Nelson and Ellicottville’s Rance Wilson, who started it as a fundraiser for their schools’ youth football programs. In the past, all proceeds have benefitted pee-wee and midget programs in West Valley and Ellicottville, though that isn’t the case this year, as the money raised from ticket sales, concession stand sales and programs featuring pictures of sponsors’ business cards and photographs of the players will be pooled and split in two, with each school receiving half.
Grinols said that the money given by sponsors will benefit pee-wee and midget programs and that Ellicottville’s half of the proceeds raised from the game will go towards purchasing new football equipment for junior varsity and varsity football teams. Of the half received by Salamanca, Hostuttler said the money will be divided into thirds amongst Salamanca’s two youth football teams and its high school team.
In addition to being a fundraiser, Grinols said the event is also “another way to get us old guys back into the pads and hit.” He noted that, initially, people weren’t sure what they were going to see in the game.
“They weren’t sure if they were going to see guys kind of leaning on each other or what. When they left the games, they were very shocked at how hard we were playing and how in good shape everybody got themselves and how hard everybody was hitting,” he said.
Though ECS shut out West Valley in its two previous alumni football games, Grinols said holding Salamanca to zero points is going to be tough. Hostuttler said that his team “hasn’t done this in a while,” but he maintained confidence in his players.
“Good luck to both teams,” he said. “Salamanca’s coming to play.”