Westhill's Ross sets state rushing record

All that the Westhill football team has done for the last 12 months has boiled down to a single game.

Just as in 2006, the Warriors and Cazenovia Lakers both carry 9-0 records and awesome reputations into what could be an epic Section III Class B championship clash Saturday at 5 p.m. at Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium.

Ever since last year's final, where the Lakers drubbed the Warriors 32-7 in the Carrier Dome, Westhill has devoted most of its waking time to being ready if, as many had anticipated, the two powers would collide again.

And Westhill goes into this final with the hungry aura of a challenger, even though it has outscored nine opponents by a combined margin of 452-56.

Most of all, the Warriors enter this game with Dale Ross, who is coming off the most spectacular night any running back has ever enjoyed in the recorded history of New York State high school football.

In the course of Westhill's 55-14 victory over Marcellus in last Friday's Class B semifinal at Corcoran High School, Ross carried the ball 30 times for 569 yards and scored all eight of his team's touchdowns.

Those 569 yards shattered the single-game state record of 467 yards set by North Babylon's Jason Gwaltney in 2003. Ironically, Westhill great Marcus Welch held the single-game Section III record (445 yards, done in a 1993 game) before Ross sped past that mark.

The stage for this jaw-dropping performance was first set a month earlier, when Westhill ripped Marcellus 52-7 in a Sept. 21 Class B West division showdown.

Burning to avenge that result, the Mustangs arrived at Corcoran and played with a lot of purpose in the early going, giving Westhill one of its first genuine scares of the season.

After Ross scored on a 39-yard run in the first quarter, Marcellus answered with a 62-yard march, using sophomore quarterback Will Fiacchi's short passes to negate the Warriors' pass rush. Fiacchi's 12-yard TD pass to Jeff Watson tied the game 7-7.

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