Sep 30, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
This, at last, was supposed to be the year that the Westhill football team, reigning kings of Class B West the last two years, got surpassed.
Marcellus had provided the proper prelude, starting 3-0. It had a highly-touted quarterback in Will Fiacchi, an explosive offense, an improved defense, and a chance in front of a loud, massive Homecoming crowd last Friday night to take charge of the league race.
And by the time it was done, absolutely nothing had changed. Westhill still ruled.
Playing a near-perfect first half on both sides of the ball, the Warriors plunged the Mustangs into a 26-0 hole and made sure the hosts never got out of it, eventually winning 39-20 to improve to 2-0 in league play.
What was already an intense rivalry between the two schools got hotter in 2007. Westhill beat Marcellus twice — once in the regular season, the other time in the Section III Class B semifinals — and scored 107 points as running back Dale Ross set all kinds of records.
In the minds of Mustang fans, the Warriors had gone too far, running up fat point totals when it wasn’t necessary. Westhill fans objected to the objections, and the exchange continued right up to the time they met again.
Dale Ross was no longer around for Westhill — but Mike DeCarr was. Without its star senior quarterback the first two weeks of the season, the Warriors got pummeled, Bishop Kearney and Oneida handling them by a combined 85-24.
When DeCarr’s separated left (non-throwing) shoulder healed enough and he returned on Sept. 19, Westhill bashed Homer 51-13, DeCarr connecting with Dan Ross on four touchdown passes. That was an ominous warning to Marcellus, who had accumulated 118 points of its own in wins over Holland Patent, VVS and Phoenix.
The Mustangs badly wanted payback for the ’07 routs. Clad in all-black jerseys, with much of the student body in attendance loudly cheering them on, Marcellus took the opening kickoff, ready to assume command in Class B West.
Within three plays, that dream got deflated. On his first pass of the night, Fiacchi threw too far — and Ross made a sliding interception at his own 33-yard line.
Then the offense took over. DeCarr deftly moved his team 67 yards, much of it gained by halfback Sam Penizotto, whose 28-yard run set up his own six-yard TD plunge that opened the scoring.
After a defensive stand, the Warriors struck again on its next possession. Penizotto did most of the early work, but from the Mustangs’ 24, DeCarr went for the end zone. Despite great coverage, Ross hauled it in for six points, doubling Westhill’s edge to 12-0.
As if to further symbolize the Mustangs’ frustrations, even when Fiacchi broke loose on a 25-yard run late in the first quarter, he fumbled, and Jeff Law recovered to give the Warriors the ball again.
A second Mustang turnover — and once again, Westhill scored off it, taking more than five minutes to march to the goal line. Penizotto bowled in on a one-yard run on fourth-and-goal early in the second quarter, and R.J. Chester’s extra point made it 19-0.
Whatever Marcellus tried, it wasn’t working. Either running back Ricky Alfreds got stuffed at the line of scrimmage, or Fiacchi didn’t get enough time to throw, often hurrying his passes in the face of a fierce Warrior pass rush.
Matt Trendowski, Jim Wilkins and Ben Johnson all recorded sacks in the first half. Johnson’s fourth-down sack came at the Warriors’ 17, after Fiacchi had seen Joe Cornish drop a possible TD pass dropped in the end zone.
From there, the Warriors went 83 yards, much of it on DeCarr’s 34-yard pass to massive tight end Tom Fisher. The final connection went to Ross, from nine yards out, and the first-half rout was complete.
Wounded in so many ways, Marcellus would put up a brave second-half fight. Fiacchi found his rhythm and threw a pair of TD passes — one going 48 yards to Scott Cotter, the other going 26 yards to Derek Belvito, that made it 26-14 early in the fourth quarter, time enough to make up the rest of the deficit.
But the Warriors always had an answer. DeCarr moved his team to the Mustangs’ 37, then went deep one more time. And Ross, left in single coverage, caught it in mid-stride for his third TD of the night, a decisive blow.
Each side would score once more, but the verdict had been rendered. DeCarr finished with 246 yards through the air, and he has connected with Ross on seven touchdown passes in two weeks of work.
Fiacchi, in defeat, was 14-for-29 for 259 yards, which could not make up for the struggles of the running game as Alfreds had just 44 yards on 11 carries. C.J. Nye again led the Mustangs’ defense with 14 1/2 tackles.
The Mustangs will try to recover Friday at 7 p.m. when it visits Homer, a team coming off its first win of the season over Solvay 27-26. Both teams have 1-1 league marks.
As that is going on, Westhill strives for a third league win in a row at Skaneateles, a team that also broke into the win column last week by topping Phoenix 41-28. And the question lingers — when will DeCarr, a highly-touted baseball prospect, have shoulder surgery? The timing of that operation might dictate the entire fate of the football Warriors.