Perhaps it was fitting that a steady, growing rain fell over Bragman Stadium last Friday night when the West Genesee football team met Liverpool in the Section III Class AA semifinal.
For as the Wildcats' impressive 31-14 victory over the Warriors showed, this program is steadily washing away nearly two decades of neglect and futility and turning into a gridiron power again.
Now all that stands between WG and its first sectional title since 1988 is Cicero-North Syracuse, playing at home on that same Bragman Stadium turf Saturday at 2 p.m.
"Just to see that all our hard work is paying off is great," said senior quarterback Tim Moran. "The program has turned the corner."
Head coach Steve Bush said the success is as much due to the bond the players have off the field than anything they show once play begins.
"There's a great chemistry here and a close group of kids pulling for each other," he said. "They can walk through school with their heads held high."
For Bush, his staff and his players, the main challenge it confronted against Liverpool (coached by one-time WG coach Dave Mancuso) was trying to again beat a team it conquered before. The Wildcats won, 24-21, back on Sept. 14 in a game decided by Luke Cometti's last-minute field goal.
Adding to the dilemma was the way Liverpool started the game. Off a fine kickoff return by T.J. Davis to midfield, the Warriors took nearly five minutes methodically marching to the end zone. Dom Caruso's three-yard touchdown put WG in a quick 7-0 hole.
"We were sluggish at the beginning," said Bush.
From that point forward, though, the Wildcats simply dominated. On its first drive, WG moved to Liverpool's 29-yard line, where Ben Waldron made an electrifying run down the right sideline and battled his way to the end zone, tying the game at 7-7.