Fairport, Penfield, Pittsford and Thomas Top Class A


- In a change from tradition, SportsFive will not be publishing individual preseason reports for each of the teams in the section this year. Instead, we will be focusing our efforts on a larger scale. To that end we have written articles based on the three classes and those teams and players that are returning to each class.Fairport_2012  We contacted each of the head coaches for each team and asked them to submit their thoughts on their team and the classes in general. Each head coach was asked to rank their toughest opponents, top players, and the top teams in each of the three classes.

Class A (with 1050 or more students) has ten teams playing this season. The largest school in Section Five is Fairport with 1,619 students. The smallest team is Hilton with 1,050. There are three combined schools, Greece Arcadia/Olympia, Pittsford (Sutherland and Mendon) and Greece Athena/Odyssey. Rounding out the class are Rush-Henrietta, Webster Schroeder, Penfield, Gates Chili and Webster Thomas.

With thirty-six head coaches responding to the Class A portion of the poll, Fairport takes the top coaches' list with thirty-five ranking them one of the top three programs in Class A. Pittsford and Penfield also came away with significant votes (twenty-eight each). Only two other programs received any votes (Webster Thomas and Hilton).

The Red Raiders return from their undefeated Section Five season as the team to beat. They finished 19-0 in Section Five with their 16-10 win over Penfield in the Class A Championship. The Red Raiders were eventually defeated in the State Semi-Finals with an 11-9 loss to Ithaca.

Fairport looks poised to be a powerhouse once again. The Red Raiders return the most players in the class scoring over ten points in the last season. They have the largest roster in the section with thirty-nine players dressing in Raider Red. Five are seniors and one is a junior. Leading the charge is senior midfielder Jay Vakiener (Binghamton). Vakiener finished last season with 18g-18a. He scored in sixteen of Fairport's twenty-one games, scoring four points in four games (Schroeder, Thomas, Aquinas and Penfield). Junior Dan McAvoy returns after a putting up twenty-five points last season. John SchrembriDefensively, the Red Raiders are even stronger. Senior defenseman Joe Arcarese, who has signed with Siena for next season, returns with second team All League honors. Joining Arcarese are two defenseman with All Tournament honors, senior Marc Sweeney and sophomore Allen Thibodeau. Thibodeau had a breakout season last year as a freshman. With a strong defensive team he didn't have a starting position, but Thibodeau was impressive every time he was on the field.

Penfield ended their season with a loss in the finals to Fairport and they very much want another big game with the Red Raiders. They finished their season with a record of 14-5. The Patriots lost twenty seniors to graduation but still return one of the most impressive rosters in the class. Penfield has two players who were named to the All Section Five list. Defenseman Charlie Cummins (Tampa) earned a second team All Section spot. He is a four year starter and will anchor the Patriots defense. Joining Cummins will be senior Nick Kimmins (Hartford). The most impressive player to return to the Patriots line-up may be one of the most impressive players in all of Section Five. Senior Connor Russell (Albany) will return for his final year after receiving All American honors as a junior. Russell, a face-off specialist, finished 2012 with a 75.4% face off winning percentage. He was over eighty percent on non-technical face-offs. He had 15 points (8g-7a) and a team leading 158 ground balls. Strong defense and special teams are just a part of the Patriots skill set this year. Senior attackman Andrew Schoeneck (Bellarmine) led his team in goals last season with forty-six. He is the leading returning points scorer in Class A with sixty-three total points. Last year he had the thirteenth highest point total in the Section. He received first team All League honors and was named to the All Tournament team.

Pittsford came into the Class A tournament seeded third and finished as seeded with an 11-6 loss to Penfield. The Panthers return the only other Class A All Section player in senior Albie DiPasquale. Andrew WhippleDiPasquale finished with a team leading thirty-two assists and was fifteenth in Section Five in total points with sixty-one. He is one of three returning Panthers who scored over ten points last year. The Pittsford attack will be strong with the combination of DiPasquale and junior Stephen Quinzi. Quinzi had thirty-two points (23g-9a) in 2012. In the midfield the Panthers will have seniors Cameron Pincus and Steven Ricci. Pincus finished second in ground balls with forty-five and Ricci earned All Tournament honors. Both Pincus (Boston University) and Ricci (Nazareth) have made plans to continue playing in college next season. Defenseman Nick Panara will also continue playing next fall at Fairfield.

Overall, Class A returns thirty-nine players who produced at least ten points. As noted earlier, Fairport has the highest number of players (six) for a total of 113 returning points. The highest point total belongs to Hilton with 172 spread between five players. Senior attackman Derek Richards (Mercyhurst) led his team in assists and total points with 21g-39a (60 points). He had the sixteenth highest point total in the section and the third highest returning in Class A. The Cadets also have the fifth highest Class A scorer in senior attackman Dante Giordano (42 points). The combination of Richards and Giordano will be a challenge for many of their opponents. Face off midfielder Harald Juergens is back for the Cadets with a 63.8% face off record and a team leading 128 ground balls.

Webster Thomas returns the second highest point total with 130 points spread across four players. The sixth and seventh returning Class A point scorers are seniors Jake Giudice and John Hill. Hill and Giudice scored forty-one points each and will be a big part of their scoring offense this season.

There are plenty of other players in Class A that should be noted. The fourth leading points scorer returning to Class A is senior Anthony Merola from Greece Athena/Odyssey. Merola had forty-five points and 124 over his three year career thus far. Rush-Henrietta will look to Nick Binnert and Chauncey Scissum for strong senior leadership. Binnert finished with a team leading thirty-seven points and Scissum finished with thirty-one points. Senior Phil Ruf is the leading point scorer from Gates Chili with seventeen points (15g-2a). Senior attackman Matt Martin is also looking to improve from last season and hopes to be a leader for the Spartans. At Webster Schroeder, Kenny Nelson finished with a team leading twenty-nine goals and thirty-four points. Sophomore goalie Willie Klan, who made a verbal commitment to Ohio State last fall, finished last season just below 50% but will look to come into his own in his second year as starting goalie for the Warriors.