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Open Mike Column: Renewal of Hamburg and Timon lax rivalry sets up premier WNY match-up

Last year, Nick Wilcox (right) and Hamburg defeated Brother Rice of Detroit, which was nationally ranked at the time. Timon has gotten on the national scene this year with a win over a ranked team from Florida.
Jerry Severino completely understands why it’s a controversial match-up.

When his Hamburg Bulldogs host Bishop Timon-St. Jude in boys lacrosse Friday, April 26 on Howe Field, it will pit public and private schools against one another.

That subject alone frequently makes for a major conversation in Western New York where the two do not compete for the same postseason championships and in some sports, rarely get together for regular season games.

There’s a lot at stake here, as well, as two Southtowns' rivals meet in what could determine in many peoples' minds the top team in the sport in Western New York.

The eighth-year Hamburg head coach admits he’s got slight reservations about the teams meeting, but it’s a game Severino realizes should no longer be avoided by either side. It will be the first time the teams meet since 2006, Severino’s first season as Hamburg’s head coach after assisting in the Orchard Park program.

Severino said he felt the need to meet again to provide a challenge for two of the best teams in Western New York. Prioritizing the good of the region’s lacrosse was also a strong pull in making the decision for both sides.

“I’m hoping that we’re one of the best teams in Western New York,” Severino said. “I think this game should help decide it.”

As two of Western New York’s top programs, it’s a game that should be highly anticipated by not only the two sides but across the region by those who follow high school lacrosse.

“It’s going to be a great game,” Timon coach Mike Burke noted when speaking earlier in the season with the Metro Source.

While Orchard Park has enjoyed the most longevity as a WNY boys lacrosse power, Hamburg and Timon may be the teams turning the most heads over the past several seasons.

Hamburg has won five of the past six titles in Section VI Class B, while Timon is stronger than ever, having earned a Catholic State title last season after winning a third straight Monsignor Martin championship.

The Bulldogs received increased notoriety last year after scoring one of the program’s biggest wins by beating nationally-ranked Brother Rice from Michigan. This year, it’s the Tigers that have already made similar noise by beating a nationally-ranked St. Andrew's from Florida over spring break.

Excuse Timon if it’s also a little preoccupied playing as difficult of a schedule of any team in the area, which also includes powers Ithaca, Brother Rice, Culver Academy and Hill Academy, along with playing in the North American Lacrosse Invitational.

Hamburg’s isn’t too shabby either. The Bulldogs have already played two very competitive games in Virginia during spring break and meet Section V powers Canandaigua and Penn Yan.

As if the game isn’t attractive enough already, the teams also feature two of the most exciting players in Western New York and quite possibly the state with Hamburg senior Max Maxwell and Timon junior Adam DiMillo. Maxwell was an early commit to Division I UMBC, while DiMillo did the same with national power Maryland.

Hamburg’s defense can stand up to most any attack, anchored by seniors Christian Hollfelder, Adam Gawlak and Evan Kuss. Additional big contributors to the offense are snipers like Austin Bishop and Luke Shafer and another middie that’s played on a national level in Nick Wilcox.

Timon’s offense is as prolific as it comes at this level, also with senior Josh Recor, junior Connor Fields and sophomore Layne Collins, while leading the backline as a senior goalie is Monsignor Martin Defensive Player of the Year Jackson Brown.

That’s a lot of talent on one field. To say there is something to prove for both sides, might be an understatement.

What seems like such an easy part of scheduling ­— getting two of the top teams together — as it turns out is not always a simple task. Just ask some of the biggest programs in the biggest of sports in WNY — football, which seems to still be trying to figure out a way to make these match-ups work.

“It’s time to play this game,” Severino said. “I just want the kids to decide it on the field.”

These two teams have gotten it right, as they put any differences aside for the greater good of the sport in WNY. And the community is about to be rewarded with the play they’ll see on the field.

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