Oct 25, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Style points disappear once the post-season starts, and every game can mean the end.
As such, the Vernon Verona Sherrill football team did not care at all about looking good in last Saturday’s mud-drenched Section III Class B playoff game against Homer — just that it would prevail and move ahead.
That did get accomplished, though not without some nervous moments, as VVS squandered a 14-point lead before recovering to beat the Trojans 21-14 and advance to this Friday’s Class B semifinal against Westhill, to be played at 5 p.m. at West Genesee High School in Camillus.
By the time VVS and Homer took the field, rain from the previous 24 hours had soaked the Red Devils’ home turf. Theoretically, it gave the Red Devils an advantage, as the Trojans play home games on an artificial surface.
However, this was the first playoff outing for most of VVS’s players, so there was no telling as to how the combination of young nerves and wet weather would affect the way the hosts would play.
Both teams would show early nerves, though, as they slogged through a scoreless first quarter where moving the ball with any consistency proved difficult.
As the weather improved, though, so did the Red Devils, who finally put a scoring drive together in the second quarter that culminated in running back Colin Way going one yard for the touchdown. Cole Barbano added the extra point, and VVS would take a 7-0 advantage to the break.
Already stocked with strong players, the Red Devils displayed a new weapon in the third quarter. From Homer’ 37-yard line, Tyler Mautner threw deep and found Matt Silker, a sophomore just pulled up from the JV ranks, for the TD that doubled the margin to 14-0.
Despite all this, Homer kept plugging away and, eventually, found some vulnerability in the VVS defense that created a comeback.
Logan Hall’s one-yard TD run late in the third period made it 14-6, and in the final period the Trojans got an 18-yard scoring pass from John Sciera to Demitrius Nelson. When Sciera found Zach Hatfield in the end zone for two points, the teams were tied, 14-14.
VVS didn’t panic, though. Mautner led his team on a scoring march midway through the fourth quarter, turning to Dylan Guider (71 yards) and Way (41 yards) to run the ball. With less than five minutes left, Silker returned and, from three yards out, landed what proved to be the winning touchdown.
The Red Devils’ defense kept Homer from answering, and VVS earned a trip to the semifinals, the first time since 2002 that the team has gone this far.
But now comes Westhill, who sits at 8-0 following a 33-6 win over Oneida in the opening round. The Warriors have reached five of the last six sectional finals and, this season, possess a diverse attack. Quarterback Jeff Law has a trio of talented receivers (Dan Ross, Nate Nigolian and Tom Fisher) to throw to, and also hands off To Tyler Nigolian, whose 240 yards keyed the win over Oneida.
Win here, and the Red Devils would advance to its first championship game since 2000 and would meet Marcellus or Solvay in the Nov. 7 final in the Carrier Dome.