Oct 14, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Going into October, the Fayetteville-Manlius football team was 0-4, and seemingly bound for a quick and unceremonious exit after making annual visits to the post-season.
Two games later, the situation has changed a bit.
Not having any kind of letdown after its shocking win over defending state champion West Genesee on Oct. 3, the Hornets had a successful Senior Night last Friday, blasting Utica Proctor 41-6.
By doing so, the Hornets, with a 2-2 mark in the Class AA-1 division, has set up a situation where a win this Saturday over Liverpool at Solvay High School’s Earl Hadley Stadium will put them in the Section III Class AA playoffs.
Remarkable as it was, F-M’s 47-37 conquest of West Genesee, at the time 4-0 and atop the state AA rankings, only counted as half the formula the Hornets needed to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Now it had to bring the same kind of intensity and focus to deal with Proctor, who was 0-5 and wanted nothing more than to spoil F-M’s plans.
Understanding the stakes, the Hornets took charge early. Twice in the first quarter, it engineered scoring drives, ending them in contrasting manners.
First, quarterback T.J. Earley went deep and found Mike O’Neil for a 42-yard touchdown reception. Then it got to 14-0 when hard-nosed fullback Matt Fallico scored from seven yards out. Both times, Dan Costa was successful on extra points.
Fallico, who would finish with 76 yards on the ground, earned a second TD on a five-yard run in the second quarter. Proctor would get on the board with Kelly Olney’s five-yard scoring pass to Devin Warmack, but F-M led 21-6 at the break.
To keep and build on that lead, the Hornets gave the ball to Matt Taylor — a lot.
The senior running back did not disappoint, either, using his 26 carries to go for 162 yards behind the blocking of linemen like Kevin Cooper, Karl Thomson and Evan Butcher.
Twice in the second half, Taylor would find the end zone, on a five-yard run in the third quarter and a 27-yard jaunt in the fourth quarter to help put the game away. With the reserves on the field, Pat Sipple got his first TD of the season on a 26-yard run to close out the scoring.
This was exactly what F-M required — a complete effort on both sides of the ball, with the defense, as a whole, vastly improved from the work it had done most of the season.
And that defense will get quite a test at “The Pit” in Solvay when it meets Liverpool. It is imperative for the Hornets to contain Greg Bell, the Warriors’ junior tailback, who has 854 yards in six games, 218 of them coming last week in his team’s 30-7 win over Cicero-North Syracuse.
What the Warriors have at stake will be determined by Friday’s game between CNS and West Genesee. If the Wildcats win, the Warriors are in the playoffs. Should the Northstars spring an upset, the F-M-Liverpool contest becomes an elimination game, with only the winner heading to the playoffs.
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