Oct 02, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
To say that the West Genesee football team was displeased about the way it gave away its Sept. 21 game against Utica Proctor was a vast understatement.
Burned by the five turnovers that allowed the Raiders to give the Wildcats its first 2007 blemish, the team spent the ensuing week in tough, physical practices, punishing each other for the mistakes it had made.
Then WG went out on Friday night and, in front of the home folks on Senior Night in Camillus, punished someone else.
In a complete reversal from the week before, the Wildcats’ defense forced Fayetteville-Manlius quarterback Buddy Leathley to throw five interceptions, leading to a 26-0 shutout of the highly-touted Hornets.
“When we win, we force turnovers and take care of the ball,” said head coach Steve Bush.
WG did both, and as a result, the much-discussed family battle between Bush and his son, Shane, an F-M senior wide receiver, was overshadowed by what the defense pulled off.
Jeremy Connors, who had two of the interceptions, said he never expected a shutout, but added that his team’s ability to put constant pressure on Leathley through its pass rush led to the turnovers.
That was evident right away. F-M was smartly marching down the field on its opening possession, moving to the Wildcats’ 14-yard line, when a seven-yard loss forced a pass situation. Leathley threw into coverage and Jake Fietkiewicz picked it off at the five-yard line, returning it 30 yards to set up WG’s first scoring drive.
Mixing up his own runs with accurate passing, Tim Moran drove the Wildcats 65 yards. On fourth-down-and-three from the nine-yard line, WG went for it, and Moran faked a handoff to his right, then took off on a bootleg, finding the end zone to put his team up 6-0.
Again, F-M drove into Wildcat territory — and again, WG came up with an interception, as a pass slipped out of Shane Bush’s hands and was nabbed by Ben Waldron.
Early in the second quarter, it was Connors’ turn to pick off Leathley, doing so at midfield. Moran then went to the ground again, taking off on a 25-yard run near the goal line to set up his second running TD, a one-yard plunge that doubled WG’s margin to 12-0.
From there, the game would go into a stalemate, lasting until the fourth quarter. F-M stopped turning the ball over for a while, yet could not move forward as Dave Hildman, Stephen Pooler, Ossama Mere, Dan Kolinski, Luke Cometti and many others kept pressuring Leathley, leading to sacks and hurried throws. Also, they kept F-M’s productive running game in check, never letting runners like Mike Rosenbaum or Louis Pascarella get outside and gain yards.
Early in the fourth quarter, with the score still 12-0, F-M faced a fourth-down-and-eight at the Wildcats’ 38. Leathley tried to throw for a first down — but Fietkiewicz read it and earned his second interception of the night.
From there, Moran was clinical, twice finding Joe Fazio for key passes, then watching Jeremy Jones pick up an 18-yard run. From the Hornets’ 20, Moran was rushed — but he still threw a beautiful pass to Kesler, who caught it at the five and ran home for a clinching TD with 8:02 to play.
WG would not just preserve the shutout, either. Connors would come up with his second interception, setting up Waldron’s 14-yard scoring run that accounted for the final margin.
Moran returned to his normal accurate self, completing 21 of 32 passes for 229 yards. He is just 36 yards short of 1,000 passing yards for the season, but after beating F-M he was quite proud of his entire team’s effort.
“We played a full game, like we knew we could,” said Moran. “The loss (to Utica Proctor) left a bad taste. We wanted to come out tonight and make a statement, and we did.”
The statement delivered, WG, 4-1 overall, now sits tied with Liverpool and Cicero-North Syracuse for first place in the Class AA-1 division and controls its own fate in regards to the league championship.
As Liverpool and CNS meet each other Friday night, the Wildcats will be at Alibrandi Stadium, taking on Christian Brothers Academy at 7 p.m.
Unlike years past, the Brothers are far from imposing this fall, sitting at 2-3 and coming off back-to-back defeats to Liverpool and CNS where it was outscored by a combined 64-7 margin. WG could further that misery, then got after the league title at CNS the following week.