Deftly handling matters on both sides of the ball, the Marcellus football has earned a share of the Class B West division regular-season championship.
The Mustangs went to Hannibal Saturday afternoon with the knowledge that Westhill had already beaten Skaneateles the night before, and that Homer was trying to claim its share of first place at Phoenix - which it did with a 33-19 victory.
So Marcellus had to win to get a shot at a playoff home game - and it did, keeping Hannibal off the board until the fourth quarter and breezing to a 34-14 victory over the Warriors.
And as the tie-breaker worked out, Marcellus finished second in B West, ahead of Homer but behind Westhill. Still, that means the Mustangs will host Holland Patent, the third-place team from C East, in Friday's opening round, with the winner to get Cazenovia or Skaneateles in the semifinals.
A big part of this victory was seeing quarterback Kyle Hastings air it out. Hastings had enormous pressure on him when the season began as the successor to Will Fiacchi, the Mustangs' all-time leading passer. And while Marcellus had started 5-1, Hastings had, at times, settled for a supporting role behind the ferocious Mustang defense and its solid ground game.
At Hannibal, though, Hastings did not let anyone get in his way as he threw for four touchdowns, three of them in the first half as Marcellus raced out to a 21-0 lead. Better yet, he made the Warriors pay for all the defensive attention given to top Mustang receiver Chaz Hayes.
In the first quarter, Hastings moved Marcellus to Hannibal's nine-yard line, then found R.J. Linder in the end zone to put his team ahead 6-0. Later in the period, Hastings, from the Warriors' 31, tossed a short pass to Allie Ragovin, then watched Ragovin weave his way in for the TD. Nick Nye's extra point made it 13-0.