As if an raucous overflow crowd and large pre-game bonfire weren't enough motivation, the Westhill football team found more of it in the days leading up to Friday night's Class B West first-place showdown with Marcellus.
Even though it was no. 6 in the state Class B rankings and had outscored its three victims 135-21, the Warriors, in the minds of at least one online prognosticator, were going to get beat by the Mustangs and its pass-oriented attack.
Westhill answered the best way it could -- with a performance that, in every phase of the game, was downright devastating. The 52-7 winning margin left no question as to which team still ruled the B West roost.
In such a one-sided affair, it's absurd to think one play could turn the whole tide, but here, that was the case.
After good yardage on its opening possession, Marcellus was forced to punt, but had a chance to pin the Warriors deep in its own territory.
Sure enough, the kick bounced inside Westhill's 10-yard line, and Dale Ross picked it up on the five, a dangerous move for most players -- but not Ross.
All Ross did was sprint to his left, beat the first wave of Mustang chasers with his pure speed to reach midfield, then turned back right and escaped every other tackle on a jaw-dropping 95-yard touchdown return that had the Warrior fans going crazy.
Instead of being pinned near its own goal line, Westhill enjoyed a 6-0 lead. Marcellus never recovered from this seismic jolt.
And that was just the beginning of a first-half clinic delivered by the Warriors, which amounted to a 39-0 lead by the time the carnage came to a halt.
Mike DeCarr joined the fun on the Warriors' first offensive possession, using a 37-yard pass to Dan Ross to set up Dale's second TD, a one-yard plunge.