Wildcats break out late, outscore Auburn

So it just might work out for Joe Corley, Jim Marks and the rest of the West Genesee football team as the next chapter begins.

Dragged into a high-scoring shootout last Friday night in its season opener at Auburn, the Wildcats, perhaps drawing upon its 2007 state Class AA championship experience, showed all the poise down the stretch and produced a 56-35 victory over the Maroons.

A large, boisterous crowd at Holland Stadium bore witness to a rare sight -- the last two state champions confronting each other during the regular season.

As improbable as Auburn's run to that ultimate prize in 2006 was, it soon got company when the Wildcats made the same sprint to the top one year later, propelled there by the sideline leadership of head coach Steve Bush and the cool, brilliant work of quarterback Tim Moran.

When both of them left -- Bush to take an assistant coaching position with the NFL's Miami Dolphins, Moran to graduate -- the Wildcats' task of doing it all over again got a lot taller.

But at the insistence of the remaining players, WG promoted Corley, the popular offensive line coach, to the top job. And Marks, who had watched Moran practice his magic from the sidelines as a junior, now took over, determined to do the same thing.

Marks sure did his part, completing 16 of 22 passes for 330 yards. Much of the time, he threw it to wide receiver Jake Fietkiewicz, who had seven catches for 168 yards and a career-best four touchdowns.

First, though, WG had to withstand Auburn's fast and furious start. Sending the home fans into a frenzy, Ismail Brooks broke loose for a 69-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and Dave Jacobs found Matt Wild on a 15-yard scoring pass to make it 14-0.

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