WNY High School Football Week 10: Section VI, Monsignor Martin Playoffs
Alden focused in dominating Class B title game win
By Mike Pidanick
After two near misses, the Alden High School football team looks like it’s on a mission this season. Upstart Springville was next up in the Bulldogs’ path and didn’t back down, but ultimately stood little chance against the mighty Alden team.
Alden was dominant as ever in claiming its third straight Section VI championship. The Bulldogs led from start to finish and cruised to a 42-7 win over Springville in the Class B title game on Saturday afternoon.
“It was a great day for us,” running back Corey Barczykowski said. “We had a great fan base today. Our offense and defense we’re really clicking. Brian Stoldt had four touchdowns. It just seemed like everything was going well.”
That’s been the case for year now in Alden. Upstart Springville, which had won five in a row, proved no match for the powerhouse Bulldogs despite a noble effort.
Barczykowski ran for 175 yards and a touchdown, Stoldt threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more and the Bulldogs bend-but-don’t break defense had its best performance of the postseason.
“Great great win for them,” Alden coach Dick Diminuco said of his kids. “They played hard and I’m proud of them.”
Bulldogs (10-0) will play East Rochester/Gananda (9-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday at All High Stadium in the Far West Regionals. After losing the last two Regional games to eventual state champion Hornell - by a combined 13 points - Alden is ready to turn the tables this season.
“We’re psyched,” Barczykowski said. “Our team just loves football and we want to keep playing.”
Barczykowski left the game late in the third quarter after taking a hit to his right knee. He walked around the sideline with an ice pack on the knee, but with Alden already comfortably ahead, he did not return to the game.
Rest assured, he’ll be in the backfield when the Bulldogs take the field on Saturday.
“I’m fine,” he said after the game. “It’s just a bruise.”
Barczykowski got the scoring started with a 26-yard TD run on Alden’s third play of the game. Stoldt found Alex Darrow for a 7-yard touchdown pass on the Bulldogs’ next drive.
The Griffins took advantage of a short field and reached the Alden 1-yard line early in the second quarter. But Springville went for it on fourth-and-goal and Tyler Conkin was stopped short by an Alden defensive surge led by senior linebacker Dominec Brotz.
Stoldt hit Matt Shields for a 45-yard touchdown and then ran in another from 4-yards out and Alden led 28-0 at halftime.
The junior quarterback scored on a 22-yard run in the third quarter and backup running back Ryan Richards, who made six extra points in the game, ran in the final score from 8 yards away.
A 22-yard touchdown run by Bill Dickinson in the third quarter gave Springville (5-5) its lone points.
Cleveland Hill edges Fredonia to earn 'C' title
By Marquel Slaughter
In Week Five of the regular season, Cleveland Hill lost to Fredonia 15-8, but the Eagles earned a chance to redeem themselves in a rematch in which the stakes were much higher.
They took advantage of that in the Section VI Class C championship game at Ralph Wilson Stadium, holding on for a 22-20 victory on Saturday (Nov. 3), to garner a fifth Class C championship, first since 2007.
“It’s an excellent feeling,” said Cleveland Hill head coach Glen Graham. “I’m so happy for our team, our staff and community right now. I’m very proud of my team. The guys hung tough and they got it done.”
The Golden Eagles were able to hang on after the Hillbillies failed to convert a two-point try with 3:56 remaining. Fredonia junior quarterback Weston Ley capped off an 11-play, 79-yard drive with a 10-yard draw, but senior quarterback Trent Thompson threw an incomplete pass to junior Cody Smith on the two-point conversion attempt.
“They beat us before, so that inspired us to want to come back harder,” said junior running back Brandon Thomas.
What would prove to be the game-winning play in a battle between teams that came into the game with two losses each was a two-point conversion with 8:14 left in the third quarter.
Radlich attempted a screen pass to junior Aaron Jackson as the ball skipped on the turf and into his shoulder, before bouncing into the end zone. Senior receiver Jared Watkins fell onto the loose ball in the endzone before the officials agreed to rule Radlich’s intended pass a lateral, which made the ball a fumble and the recovery by Watkins made the two-point try successful.
Those two points came after an 84-yard touchdown by Thomas, which broke a 14-14 tie. Thomas finished the game with 133 yards rushing after an 11-yard first half.
“I was frustrated,” said Thomas. “We started out slow with the running game. So we all came out and played with heart and I just saw it. The line opened it up, I broke a couple of tackles and it was that from there.”
After Ley’s 52-yard touchdown run put Fredonia on the board first, the Eagles looked to their senior quarterback Jacob Radlich to spark up an offense that, at the time, could not move the ball on the ground. After completing a few screen passes to senior wideout Ny’Juan Rainey and Watkins, it was Watkins that burned the Hillbillies on a 58-yard touchdown reception to make it a 7-6 game.
“We were just trying to back guys off into the secondary a little bit,” said Graham on setting up their ground game by executing through the air first. “At the end of the first half, they were playing with five defensive backs. So they had six in the box and that gave us an opportunity to run the ball a little.”
The highlight of the afternoon gave Fredonia a 14-6 halftime lead. Ley threw a 1-yard out to Jude Gardner, who then tossed the ball to Smith as he ran 20 yards untouched for the score with under four minutes left in the half.
Cleveland Hill would not respond until after intermission, when they put up 16 unanswered points in the third quarter.
The run started immediately into the second half, when Jackson popped off a 75-yard kick return. After dropping the kick at the 25, he picked up the loose ball which was fingertips away from Hillbilly defenders.
Rainey’s reception on the two-point conversion tied the game at 14 apiece.
“I’ve been saying if they kick it to me I’m going to turn it up,” said Jackson, who is Cleve Hill’s utility man, lining up at receiver, defensive back and backup quarterback as well. “That’s what I do — I run kicks back.”
Jackson’s score is what the Eagles needed to match Fredonia’s intensity and take over the final 24 minutes of the game.
“We came in and knew what we had to do,” said senior lineman Ryan Mullin. “In the second half, we came out, set the tone with the kickoff and it’s history from there.”
The win advances Cleveland Hill to the Far West Regional at All-High Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 10 with a noon kickoff.
Sweet Home’s run of football dominance still strong
By Mike Pidanick
Every year is supposed to be one that Sweet Home’s run of football dominance over the rest of Section VI comes to an end. And maybe some year, that will happen.
But the Panthers made sure it won’t be in 2012.
Sweet Home was as impressive as ever on Friday night, rolling to a 28-7 win over previously-undefeated West Seneca East in the Section VI Class A championship on Friday night at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The victory gave Sweet Home six consecutive sectional titles and 60 straight wins over Section VI opponents.
“There’s a lot of people that think we’re going to lose - again,” said senior wide receiver Carter Mann, who had four catches for 52 yards and a touchdowns. “They do every year. But we have to come out, be humble and prove that we’re the best again.
“It’s an absolutely amazing to win here. From last year, to fight all the way though the summer to come all the way back here again and win it again, it’s indescribable.”
In a highly-anticipated battle of unbeatens, the Panthers were the superior team on both sides of the ball. Sweet Home out-gained West Seneca East 441-170.
The Panthers proved equally efficient on offense, gaining 233 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and 208 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Senior running back Khalil Humphrey ran 13 times for 126 yards and two scores and added 55 more yards on a pair of receptions.
“It’s terrific,” Humphrey said. “This is my third time being here, but this time I actually got to play and had a good game. The line was just terrific; all the blocks were just there. It’s all I could have asked for.”
His backfield mate, sophomore Jordan Evert, added 77 yards on 17 carries. Quarterback Mike Torrillo completed 14 of his 22 passes for 208 yards and tossed touchdowns to Mann and Calvin Martin. Six different Panthers had at least one reception.
“We were well-balanced on offense,” Sweet Home coach John Faller said. “We can run, we can pass. We have a lot of ways of getting it done.”
Defensively, Sweet Home had two much team speed for the high-powered Trojans. Standout quarterback Andy Smigiera was held to 71 yards passing and 44 yards rushing. West Seneca East’s lone touchdown came on its first drive of the second half, capped by an eight-yard TD run by Scott Ackerman.
St. Joe’s runs over O’Hara in advancing to MMAA semis
By Michael Straw
It’s not very often that you see a team not attempt a single pass in a game, let alone a playoff tilt. However, that is exactly what St. Joe’s did in its Monsignor Martin quarterfinal contest against Cardinal O’Hara on a blistering-cold Saturday (Nov. 3) afternoon.
There was no need to put the ball in the air. The Marauders ran a total of 26 plays on offense and racked up a team total of 310 yards as they grounded the Hawks 48-6 to earn a trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium and the MMAA semi-finals against Timon-St. Jude on Thursday, Nov. 8.
“We wanted to take care of business right away,” Dennis Gilbert, Marauders head coach, said. “We talked about it [before], we wanted to get in here and get off to a fast start, be physical, and be sharp.”
St. Joe’s didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard as on their second offensive snap of the game senior Ilo Noble took a handoff 36 yards to the endzone to give the Marauders a 7-0 lead just 51 seconds into the game.
After the Hawks were forced to punt on the ensuing possession, Noble found pay dirt once again when he returned the kick 65 yards for a touchdown to give St. Joseph’s a 14-0 lead just four minutes into the game.
“We executed a lot of plays, and we just played hard,” said Noble, who finished the day with just two carries for 42 yards and a touchdown to go along with his punt return score. “All coach tells us to do is stay focused and execute. We came off a tough loss (to Canisius) but we kept our heads up.”
After junior Nigel Davis put the Marauders up 21-0 in the first on a 50-yard touchdown run on third-and-long, the game then turned into the Rod Payne show.
On the very first play of the second quarter, Payne took a toss 12 yards to the endzone to give his team a 28-0 lead. Even after the Hawks drove the ball down field and finally got on the board with a Khari Wright 41-yard run to make it 28-6, Payne continued to dominate.
On the very next Marauders' drive, Payne ran 27 yards to the endzone to up the score to 35-6. Just three minutes later, Payne ran for a 37-yard touchdown to cap off the day for the starters who were pulled at halftime.
“I try to do whatever I can. Whatever my coach wants me to do; I just do what I’m told,” said Payne after his eight carry, 142-yard and three-touchdown performance. “I give all the credit to our line for today. They came out and blocked hard. [We] executed and we got it done."
Gilbert made sure to give as much credit to Payne as possible.
“He’s good in practice every day. He practices on Monday like he plays on Saturday,” he said. “He can never get enough. It obviously goes a long way and tells you what kind of kid he is.”
Sophomore Miles Young finished off the scoring with a 4-yard run late in the fourth quarter to up the score to 48-6. In the second half, the Marauders got a few players who were called up from the junior varsity roster earlier in the week into the game.
Freshman call-up Ryan Conschafter made five tackles in his first action on the varsity squad, while sophomore Johnathan Fronczak forced and recovered two fumbles in the fourth quarter.
“The future’s bright,” Gilbert said. “There’s an old saying, ‘you never want to rebuild, you just want to reload.’ And that’s the name of the game.”
The third-seeded Marauders now head to Ralph Wilson Stadium for a rematch with second-seeded Timon-St. Jude, which beat them during the regular season 17-14. The winner advances back to The Stadium for the league championship on Saturday (Oct. 17).
St. Francis shows passion, resolve in bouncing St. Mary’s in playoffs
By Mike Petro
St. Francis made it abundantly clear Saturday with its performance to open the Monsignor Martin playoffs that the first seven games of this season are all but a memory. It is what can still be accomplished this season that’s taken precedent for a rejuvenated Red Raiders’ squad.
After going without a win in its first seven games, St. Francis is riding high on a three-game unbeaten streak, including running away with a 52-7 win in a MMAA quarterfinal at St. Mary’s, where earlier in the season the Red Raiders surprisingly lost by 26 points.
St. Francis running back Alex Misterman led an impassioned and greatly improved effort from the last time the two met in Week Six, as the senior rumbled for 357 yards and five touchdowns on 21 carries. The powerful back was also successful on all four rushes for two-point conversions. Running behind a young but maturing offensive line, Misterman very seldom could be stopped as he cruised through large holes and would-be tacklers.
“Earlier in the season, we didn’t come out and give it our all,” said Misterman, who on a similarly muddy field the game before this one ran for nearly 200 yards in helping St. Francis beat Timon. “Today, we came out, fired off the ball, did what we had to do and this time, we had a lot of passion. We’re playing for each other and not just ourselves. We’re playing for the name on the front of the jersey.”
St. Francis head coach Jerry Smith said the turnaround is a direct result of how much his players and staff care about one another and the desire they share to salvage the 2012 season. He noted that being able to beat the likes of St. Mary’s, Timon and Cardinal O’Hara by a combined 119-28 over the past three weeks can be attributed to continually working hard despite all of the disappointment, along with benefitting from being completely healthy, which never hurts, as well.
“It’s been a tough road from 0-7 to where we are now — it wasn’t easy living through what we were; it never is when you’re losing, but the kids inside our room and the coaches never gave up on each other,” Smith said. ‘We knew eventually if we care enough about each other we would be OK. We are OK. Quite honestly, the score the past few weeks has been inconsequential; what’s most important is that if you watch us, you’ll see there’s a different atmosphere and belief.”
The defense also saw a complete turn-around from the first time St. Francis played at St. Mary’s. Last time, Lancers’ junior standout Nick Vallone ran for nearly 300 yards and scored four times, but the Red Raiders benefitted on Saturday from some film study and having a better understanding of what makes St. Mary’s run game so successful. St. Francis limited Vallone to 63 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries and held St. Mary’s without a second half first down.
“Today, we had to get back at them. We didn’t play our best throughout this season and we just wanted to show them that we have a lot more. We believed in ourselves this time,” said senior Jarrett Dolegala, who halted the game’s opening drive with an interception and then book-ended the half with big plays, catching a 38-yard touchdown on a ball thrown over top of the defense by senior Brian Melisz on the final play of the second quarter.
“Our coaches got us looking at film and we looked at how they were blocking and their steps and what Vallone’s steps looked like. We really read that well,” Dolegala added.
Defending league champion St. Francis now gets another shot at a team that beat it soundly during the regular season. On a short week, the fifth-seeded Red Raiders will play top-seed Canisius in the MMAA semifinals Thursday, Nov. 8 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Led by one of Western New York’s top backs in junior Qadree Ollison, the Crusaders beat St.Francis 51-18 in Week Five and finished the regular season unbeaten at 9-0.
“What our legacy is now is how we finish the season,” Misterman pointed out. “We want to head to the championship. That’s our ultimate goal and that’s what we’re heading toward. We know how to get there. A lot of the kids on the team like Jarrett and myself are veterans who have played at The Ralph several times and we know what it takes. We’re just pushing everyone.”
By halftime, Misterman had almost 250 yards and ran for scores of 68, 10, nine and two yards. He would add an 83-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, before Devantie Campbell hit paydirt on a short run in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring. The running game went for 412 total yards behind a maturing offensive line.
“The fact that they blew up holes that you can drive trucks through was just phenomenal,” Misterman said. “I just read their blocks and did what I had to do, which was just run down the field and try not to get tackled. My goal was to play for them, because I know they’re playing for me. When they do well, I do well and the team does well.
While impressed with what Misterman accomplished, Smith couldn’t help but take notice of the growth of his offensive line, which consisted mostly of center John Sorgi, tackles Dylan Sager and David Santana and guards Ryan Zulawski and Dylan McDonald. Of the group, only Sorgi, a senior, saw time last year as six regulars from the line graduated.
“With the type of year we had, you can look at it and say we had five new starters on the offensive line and Alex paid the price for it for the first seven games. Well, they finally jelled and that’s what’s going on,” Smith said. “I think everyone can see that our line has been dominating and hopefully that continues. We have a real big test in a short week, which is fine. It’s better than watching everyone else play.”
Defensively, Dolegala added a team-leading 15 tackles to go along with that early-game interception. Safety Mike Miller came up with 10 tackles and nose tackle Adam Valenti made nine stops, three for losses, including a sack. Sager and Nick Weickle also made a pair of tackles for losses.
“The kids took it as a challenge from last game,” Smith said. “No team likes to be beat like they did to us, especially to be run on, because running the ball is more of a sign of manhood. St. Mary’s brought everything they had last time, but today we were just the better team.”
The Lancers may have ended the season with a jarring loss, but it can not take away from their accomplishments playing for the first time as a full league member after the MMAA became one division before the start of last season. St. Mary’s beat St. Francis for the first time since a 16-14 win in 1999 and played right with the three other large schools from the division in losses.
“One game doesn’t make or break your season,” St. Mary’s head coach Dave Hersey said. “It would have been nice to go to The Ralph — I think these guys played hard enough all season and deserved it, but my hats off to Jerry and St. Francis. They came here and really showed up. They’re playing good football and they were hungrier than us and got the job done.”