Already, the Westhill football team knew it was in for a rough transition, with record-setting running back Dale Ross took his vast skills to Morrisville State College.
What the Warriors did not expect, prior to Sunday's season opener with Bishop Kearney in the Kickoff Classic at the Carrier Dome, was seeing its senior quarterback go to the sidelines in the last week of pre-season practice.
Thus, the Warriors were far from full strength when Kearney, a Section V power from the Rochester area, took charge in the game's late stages with a surge of points that led to 35-17 defeat.
Due to injury, DeCarr had his left (non-throwing) shoulder in a sling and could only watch from the sidelines as junior Dan Ross, normally a wide receiver, took a majority of the snaps on this night.
For a while, that seemed to work. Except for the occasional pass, the Warriors stayed conservative, running both Ross and Sam Penizotto to control the clock and keep it out of the reach of a potent Kearney offense.
When the Kings did have the ball, it drove twice deep into Westhill territory in the first quarter, only to see the Warriors' defense make some key stops, including a Ross interception at the five-yard line.
A Kearney fumble early in the second quarter gave the Warriors its first serious scoring chance. It stalled, but Carter Cywilko came in and drilled a 39-yard field goal through the uprights, putting Westhill in front 3-0.
So it remained as Kearney took possession at its own 40-yard line in the last minute of the half. The Kings drove inside the 20, then struck a huge blow.
From the Westhill 17, Jake Meek threw a swing pass to Quentin Gause, who broke two tackles and dove into the end zone with just one second left before halftime. Just like that, Kearney had a 7-3 lead, and would not get caught.