Sep 04, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Malik Burks apparently figured that the 100th season of scholastic football at Baldwinsville needed a proper christening.
So two plays into Friday night’s opener against West Genesee at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium, Burks took a handoff, ran right, then cut back left across the middle of the field and didn’t stop until he was in the end zone 68 yards later.
That was the first of five touchdowns Burks would score on the night, and also proved to be the springboard for the Bees’ 41-26 victory over the Wildcats.
In all, Burks carried the ball 31 times and topped the 300-yard mark – 301, to be precise. The 5-9, 180-pound senior followed the blocks of linemen Jake Margrey, Nick Robinson, Matt Moreland, Ryland Jennings and Curtis Stanard and broke tackles all night, frustrating a new-look Wildcat defense.
Though WG has played in each of the last two Section III Class AA finals, it saw 32 seniors depart from its 2008 squad, which is tough for any program, no matter how good.
Where it showed up on this night was the fact that the Wildcats had several players go both ways, something that would prove important in the late going.
That didn’t happen right away, though. In fact, the first half turned out to be a wild offensive affair where neither team would punt.
A mere 14 seconds after Burks put the Bees up 7-0, WG’s Sirron Wright took the ensuing kickoff and never got touched on an 85-yard sprint to the other end zone.
The 7-7 tie didn’t last long, either, as Burks, on a draw play, ran 30 yards for his second TD of the night, and the Bees had a 14-7 lead.
Wright got a second TD, too, but B’ville, based on long runs from quarterback Niko Manning, went ahead again 21-14 on fullback Ben Paprocki’s three-yard run. And all this before the first quarter was over.
Early on, WG’s new quarterback, Connor Zeman, showed all the poise and confidence of predecessors Tim Moran and Jim Marks, making six consecutive third-down conversions and throwing a gorgeous 30-yard TD pass to Josh Phillips in the second quarter, cutting B’ville’s edge to 21-20.
Burks scored for the third time less than three minutes later, but made an even more important play on defense just before halftime.
WG, down 28-20, drove to the Bees’ two-yard line, where it faced fourth-down-and-goal. Zeman rolled left, then threw – and Burks leaped high to knock the pass down.
It didn’t have an immediate impact, as Wright tore his way to a 65-yard TD run on the first play of the second half to make it 28-26 (the two-point pass fell incomplete).
But from there, the Bees’ defense would not allow anything more, forcing Zeman into three interceptions and recovering two fumbles – a total of five Wildcat turnovers.
Burks offered the decisive touches, including a 46-yard TD run in the third quarter where he started right, then turned around, picked up some blocks and streaked all the way to the goal line. Matt Varga’s interception led to a fifth Burks TD in the fourth quarter, and Burks also recovered a punt fumble, just to make it complete.
B’ville will go to Fayetteville-Manlius next Friday, while WG has its home opener against Liverpool.