Oct 30, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Westhill’s undefeated football team is formidable enough without the need to give them much help.
But Vernon Verona Sherrill turned out to be quite generous to the Warriors in Friday night’s Section III Class B semifiinal at West Genesee High School.
Six Red Devils turnovers, leading to 24 points, made the primary difference as Westhill won, 37-7, and advanced to its fourth consecutive Class B title game.
The Warriors will face Marcellus, playing in its first-ever sectional final, next Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Carrier Dome. The Mustangs shut out Solvay 24-0 in the other semifinal in Camillus.
All season long, the Westhill defense had proved dominant against any kind of opponent, giving up just 65 total points on its way to eight consecutive victories.
However, VVS provided a stern challenge, at least on paper. The Red Devils built a 7-1 mark with an explosive offense that produced 266 points, an average of better than 33 points per game.
Knowing what it needed to do, the Warriors began to assert itself after Mark McAnaney’s punt dropped on the one-yard line following Westhill’s opening possession.
Kevin Wilson forced the first turnover, stepping in front of a Tyler Mautner pass at the 10-yard line and returning it to the Red Devils’ one before Tyler Nigolian scored on the next play.
At first, the Red Devils shook it off, answering with a 55-yard drive where Mautner’s 25-yard pass to Tyler Curtis on the right sideline was the big blow. Colin Way’s two-yard TD run, plus a successful extra point, gave VVS a brief 7-6 advantage.
So it remained until the second quarter. After stopping VVS on its own 30-yard line, Westhill went 70 yards, often extending the drive with third-down passes from Jeff Law to Dan Ross.
However, at the Red Devils’ 25, Westhill changed things up. Ross lined up behind center in a variation of the “Wildcat” formation, and VVS expected a run. Instead, Ross threw to Law on the wing, and the senior quarterback took off with sprinter’s speed up the middle to the end zone. Law then returned the favor with a two-point pass to Ross, and the Warriors, up 14-7, would not trail again.
If the game turned anywhere, it did after Mautner’s 57-yard pass to Curtis midway through the second quarter. On the brink of pulling even again, Curtis instead fumbled on the five-yard line – and Westhill’s Mike Fagan fell on it.
Minutes later, another VVS fumble, this one recovered by Josh Davoli, set up the Warriors’ third TD. From the Red Devils’ 20, Law, seeing an all-out blitz, threw just before he was sacked to the end zone – and Ross beat single coverage for the touchdown, his 12th of the season.
So the Warriors took a 21-7 lead to the break – and it didn’t take long in the third quarter for Westhill to break it open, thanks to more VVS turnovers.
On the second play from scrimmage, Wilson got his second interception at the Red Devils’ 31, and on the very next play Law threw to Ross, who beat one tackle and was gone for another TD and a 28-7 lead.
Another VVS possession, and another turnover, this time a fumble that Jalen Robinson recovered, leading to R.J. Chester’s 30-yard field goal. Law added a one-yard TD run at the start of the fourth quarter to ice it.
For the night, Law went 13-for-19 for 133 yards, 11 of those passes going to Ross for 124 yards.
And now it’s Westhill meeting Marcellus for the Class B championship. Their first meeting this season on Sept. 18 required the Warriors getting a late touchdown to edge past the Mustangs 13-10.
Marcellus has not lost since, a six-game win streak propelled by a high-octane offense featuring quarterback Will Fiacchi and 1,000-yard rusher Ricky Alberts.
The Mustangs are new to all this – but Westhill has been here before, having lost all of the last three Class B title games – to Cazenovia in 2006 and ’07, then to Oneida in 2008. These Westhill players are desperate to change that recent history, especially if it means breaking the collective hearts of one of its biggest rivals.