(Photo by Harry Scull Jr. @hsjrphoto/Buffalo News)
Kraig Kurzanski ’84 is coming home.
Kurzanski, a member of the Canisius High School Athletic Hall of Fame who has been one of Western New York’s most successful high school football coaches over the last three decades, has been named the Crusaders’ head football coach, Canisius Director of Athletics James Mauro announced Tuesday morning.
“First, I’d like to thank Bryan Gorman for his work this past season as our interim varsity football coach,” Mauro said. “He took over under some challenging circumstances and served our players well.
“Kraig’s outstanding background and record in coaching stands on its own. But, just as importantly, Kraig is so well respected and a man of tremendous character that I know will serve the young men at our school very well.”
Kurzanski returns to Canisius with an overall coaching record of 157-97-2 over 28 seasons, including an 88-49 mark the last 15 years at Williamsville South. The South Buffalo native’s 157 career victories make him one of the winningest active coaches in Western New York; he is also among the statewide leaders in active coaching wins.
“It is with great honor and pride that I have been granted the privilege to lead the football program at Canisius High School,” Kurzanski said. “Canisius changed my life. As a member of the Class of 1984, Canisius afforded me the best education in Western New York. I am home again.”
“I would like to thank Father Ciancimino, Ms. Andrea Tyrpak-Endres and Mr. Jim Mauro for entrusting me to lead the young men of the Canisius High School football team.”
Kurzanski coached previously at Canisius from 2001 to 2003, including one Monsignor Martin Association Large School championship game berth. During that tenure he held several roles at CHS, including assistant Dean of Students.
“I believe I have the most unique perspective of Canisius High School,” Kurzanski said. “I have been student, teacher, assistant Dean of Students, coach and advisor at CHS. I left in 2004. I have been afforded the opportunity to come back again, 17 years later. It is with great reverence that I accept my position at CHS.”
Kurzanski was inducted into the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002 for his achievements in both football – in which he earned All-Western New York first-team honors at center in 1983 – and baseball.
He played college football for two years each at Johns Hopkins University and St. Lawrence University; he earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from St. Lawrence in 1989 before obtaining his master’s in education in earth sciences from Buffalo State in 1993.
Kurzanski is in his 18th year teaching science in the Williamsville Central School District; he will retire from teaching at the end of this school year.
At Williamsville South, Kurzanski won five league titles and coached 67 players who went on to play college football, including seven in Division I. Two of those players were 2011 Connolly Cup winner Joe Licata and 2015 Trench Trophy winner Jake Fuzak (both who went on to the University at Buffalo). Kurzanski coached three All-Western New York first-teamers in 2021.
He has been named Coach of the Year seven times in his career and he has earned the Buffalo Bills Coach of the Week Award four times.
Kurzanski’s coaching career began with a 52-28-2 record over nine seasons at Oakfield-Alabama of Section V (Rochester area). Prior to Kurzanski’s arrival, O-A had four straight losing seasons; his teams won five league titles and made a sectional final.
Following his first stop at Canisius, and one year prior to starting at South, he coached the 2006 season at St. Mary’s of Lancaster, where he led the Lancers to a 7-2 record and a berth in the Monsignor Martin Small School title game.
Kurzanski has also been a successful baseball coach at Oakfield-Alabama (seven league titles and one sectional championship in eight seasons) and Williamsville South (one state championship game appearance in eight seasons).
Kurzanski’s wife of 32 years, Mary Clare, is the daughter of the late Andrew Meaney Jr. ’43, who is also a member of the Canisius Athletic Hall of Fame; Meaney was inducted in 1997, also for his achievements in football and baseball.
Kraig and Mary Clare are parents to two adult children: Kathryn, 29, is the head field hockey coach at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts; Molly, 27, works in logistics in Albany.
Gorman was named interim head coach in June following the of departure of Rich Robbins. Robbins compiled a 78-29 record over 10 years at Canisius, including three state titles and two undefeated seasons, before he moved to Florida in May. In the 2021 season, the Crusaders went 6-4 and lost to St. Francis in the Monsignor Martin Association championship game.