Sep 18, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Those that forecast, before the 2007 season got underway, that the West Genesee football team would be the last remaining undefeated team in the Section III Class AA ranks can raise their hands now.
Chances are, it’s a small group — which makes the reality for Wildcat fans that much sweeter.
For the second week in a row, WG pulled out an exciting, gut-wrenching contest, this time going to Liverpool to top the Warriors 24-21 in a fight to see who would get an early edge in the Class AA-1 division race.
Luke Cometti, a clutch performer better known for his heroics on the lacrosse field, made the difference with his right foot this time around, belting a 25-yard field goal through the uprights with 24 seconds left to break a 21-21 tie.
This was atonement for Cometti, who had seen a 33-yard attempt bounce off the upright, no good, with 7:13 left – and due to circumstances beyond his control, he had a long time to think about it.
Barely a minute after Cometti’s miss, lightning was spotted in the distance, and both teams were sent off the field for 30 minutes, as state rules require. Such an interruption, with the game’s outcome in doubt, can cause even good teams to lose focus.
WG kept it, though, and took full advantage when Liverpool fumbled on the possession following the delay. Aided by a pass interference penalty and a solid ground game, the Wildcats, ignoring the windy conditions, drove inside the Warriors’ 10-yard line and ate up much of the remaining clock, too.
Now Cometti had his second chance. The 25-yard kick wobbled in the wind, but flew through the uprights this time, and WG was still unbeaten.
That breeze — which blew more than 30 miles per hour at times — played a key role in the game, as Liverpool all but abandoned throwing the ball.
For a while, that worked. The Warriors ran 14 consecutive running plays on its opening drive into the wind, capped off by T. J. Davis going nine yards for the touchdown.
Able to throw the ball in that opening period, WG did so, as Tim Moran found his targets, finishing with an 11-yard TD pass to Cometti, also the team’s tight end, to tie it 7-7.
Expecting more runs, the Wildcats’ defense was flustered when, late in the first quarter, Tyler Kamide hooked up with his own tight end, Mike Suatoni, for a 63-yard scoring strike that pushed the Warriors back in front, 14-7.
Now going into the wind in the second quarter, the Wildcats began establishing its own ground game. Ben Waldron picked up big chunks of yardage, and when he scored from 12 yards out, it was tied again, 14-14 — but not for long.
Pushing itself to midfield, Liverpool broke off its own big run when Dom Caruso tore through a big hole in the middle and went 45 yards for his own TD. The Warriors would keep that 21-14 edge going into halftime.
Gaining the wind back in the third quarter, WG didn’t take long to tie it a third time. Just 32 seconds into the period, Waldron tore through the Liverpool defense for his own 45-yard sprint to the end zone. Though Waldron carried the ball just 12 times, he gained 129 yards on the ground.
After Waldron’s second TD, both teams settled down. Moran would continue to impress, going 21-for-33 for 215 yards, a lot of pass attempts given the gusty conditions, but WG could not break the tie.
At the same time, though, Liverpool slowed down, as WG began closing the running lanes that opened up so freely earlier in the night. And as the final act showed, the Wildcats maintained its focus during the weather delay, a key factor in the outcome.
Come this Friday night, WG is back home, ready to greet another massive crowd at Wildcat Stadium as it takes on Utica Proctor at 7 p.m., in a game to be telecast on Time Warner Cable Channel 26.
Proctor is 2-1, coming off a frustrating 20-19 home loss to Cicero-North Syracuse where it missed two extra points and botched the snap on a possible game-winning field goal. In close games, special teams can make a huge difference — something both WG and Proctor can understand.
As if the crowd needs extra inspiration, during halftime laxpower.com will recognize the West Genesee girls lacrosse team as the “Best Team In the Country”, following its season last spring where it went 24-0 and won the state Class A championship.