Sep 16, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Name a negative situation, self-inflicted or otherwise, and the Liverpool football team has likely dealt with it in the brief span of the 2008 season.
To start with, the Warriors could not play home games on its condemned Astroturf field, so it needed to outsource those games to two different locales, neither of which were too close to the Liverpool campus.
Then came a 31-12 season-opening win at Baldwinsville that (1) got smeared by a third-quarter brawl and (2) may end up as a loss because Liverpool used a transfer student without knowing that, at age 19, he was too old for high-school competition.
Despite all this, the Warriors went to one of those temporary home fields at Central Square last Friday night and found a way to rally from behind and beat Corcoran 23-22, the decisive points coming on Jimmy Wright’s 27-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
As a result of the B’ville debacle, head coach Dave Mancuso had two decisions to make. First, after reviewing all the tapes of the fight, he suspended three players — Corey Bundrage, Justin Albro and Ken Howard — that would all sit out against Corcoran.
Then, when the news of the ineligible transfer broke, Mancuso took full blame for the matter, saying that, even though the Liverpool varsity roster is large, he should have done a more thorough job looking through the paperwork.
Of course, there was the small matter of getting ready for Corcoran. The Cougars had beaten Utica Proctor 20-7 in its Sept. 5 opener without playing all that well. Liverpool knew that Corcoran would be vastly improved for its second game, and the guess wasn’t wrong.
A wild first quarter saw both teams find the end zone twice. Corcoran hit first, driving to Liverpool’s 19-yard line before Travon Burke found a hole and darted to the end zone to put the Cougars up 6-0.
Liverpool came right back, going in front 7-6 as junior running back Greg Bell carried most of the time and scored from one yard out. The next time the Warriors got the ball, Bell did more damage, and used a five-yard TD run to make it 14-6.
For the rest of the first half, the Warriors’ defense, short-handed without Bundrage, Albro and Howard, had to endure the punishing ground game of Corcoran back Henry Bradley.
Most of Bradley’s 141 yards, done on 28 carries, came in the first half. He scored late in the opening period on a three-yard run and added a two-point conversion to tie it 14-14, then scored a second time on a one-yard plunge in the second quarter, again adding the conversion.
Liverpool trailed, 22-14, at halftime, but did not panic. Instead, it turned up the defensive heat, stuffing Bradley and forcing Corcoran to throw. The Cougars did not complete a pass all night, earned just one first down and committed a pair of key turnovers after the break.
This much-improved defense allowed Liverpool to stay on offense for much of the last two periods. Behind the blocks of Dan Wentworth, Aaron Labulis, Alex Mashayeskhski, Brian Greene and James Schumacher, Bell carried the ball 30 times for 189 yards, and got his third TD on a 17-yard run in the third quarter.
Unable to make the two-point conversion, and still down 22-20 early in the fourth quarter, Liverpool used Bell’s runs to reach the Cougars’ 10-yard line.
When the drive stalled, Wright took over. He had never made a varsity field goal before, but the junior drilled the kick well past the uprights and, with 10:22 left, Liverpool had the lead once more.
For the rest of the game, Corcoran could not get moving, and with Bell continuing to run well, Liverpool closed things out. And though quarterback Tyler Kamide struggled (he completed just three of nine passes for 43 yards, he still had a big week as he verbally committed to go to the United States Military Academy at West Point and will play lacrosse for the Army Black Knights.
So the Warriors have all kinds of confidence going into one of the season’s most anticipated games this Friday — a visit to Camillus to face defending state Class AA champion West Genesee at 6 p.m.
Twice in 2007, the Wildcats beat Liverpool — once in the regular season on a last-second Luke Cometti field goal, the second time in the Class AA semifinals. That, plus the fact that Mancuso was once WG’s head coach and that Bundrage, Albro and Howard will be back in the lineup, only adds to the flavor of a game that could shape the AA-1 division race.