Nov 05, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
An unstoppable offense and an ability to deliver the big plays whenever it was necessary has helped deliver the West Genesee football team’s first Section III Class AA championship since 2007.
Keyed by two big returns from Sean Howard and closing it out with 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats defeated Christian Brothers Academy 57-35 in Saturday’s AA final in the Carrier Dome.
“I’m ecstatic right now,” said head coach Joe Corley. “I’m so proud of these guys. After having just four wins the last two years, they kept proving people wrong.”
CBA head coach Joe Casamento said that his team never could find its stride in this, its third consecutive defeat in a sectional final.
“We didn’t have our speed or swagger,” he said. “We just didn’t settle down and play, but they (West Genesee) had a lot to do with it.”
All the pre-game expectations for a points-filled offensive showcase were quickly fulfilled in a first half where WG moved in front by scoring on its first four possessions.
Sean Howard’s 25-yard punt return set up the first scoring chance after WG’s defense forced a three-and-out at the start of the game. From the Brothers’ 14, Matt Naton, on third down, found Brett Colvin in the end zone, and Colvin’s nice catch in coverage gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.
CBA countered with its own diverse running attack on a 13-play, seven-minute march that covered 67 yards and the rest of the first quarter.
Long gains by Mike Vavonese and Anthony Bunn (back from a knee injury) moved the Brothers to the Wildcats’ 10, where on fourth-and-five Cam MacPherson found Evan Adamo on a crossing pattern for the touchdown. The extra point moved CBA ahead 7-6 – but not for long.
The Howard brothers took over, as Naton’s 23-yard strike to Sean Howard on the first play of the second period got the Wildcats into scoring position again, and Naesean Howard ran 28 yards on a sweep near the goal line before Naton hit Sean Howard for a two-yard scoring pass. Naesean Howard ran in for two points, putting WG up 14-7.
Again, the Brothers responded, this time with its aerial attack. MacPherson hit Cody Radziewicz three times for total gains of 62 yards before, from the Wildcats’ 26, the CBA senior quarterback rolled right and hit Adamo open in the secondary for a 26-yard TD pass, pulling his side even 14-14.
Less than two minutes later, Naton responded, following up a 26-yard pass to Glesener by going to him again one play later on a deep throw, the TD covering 40 yards as WG moved back in front. And on its next possession, WG saw Naesean Howard run 56 yards to the Brothers’ one-yard line before scoring one play later, Naton’s two-point pass to Nate Flask making it 28-14.
Then it was the Brothers again finding success through the air, as a 32-yard pass to Kirby DarDar set up MacPherson’s third TD pass, 12 yards to Jack Pfohl, with 29 seconds left in the half. That made it 28-21, where it stood at the half, though WG scrambled in the waning seconds to CBA’s 20-yard line before Evan Stefano, from 37 yards out, missed a field goal wide right.
Sean Howard would deliver the first of his two decisive plays on the opening kickoff of the second half, receiving it on his own 30 and speeding outside before outrunning the CBA pursuers on a 70-yard sprint to the end zone. In a matter of 13 seconds, the lead had grown to 35-21.
Unfazed, CBA moved 52 yards for another score, cutting its deficit to 35-28 when MacPherson threw his fourth TD pass, 20 yards to Adamo. An exchange of fumbles followed, both Naesean Howard and Mike Vavonese losing the ball as Homer Davis and Kesean Sparks got the recoveries, and WG finally punted the ball for the first time late in the period.
From its own 12, CBA put together a long drive that stretched into the fourth quarter, 88 yards and six minutes of time. Vavonese’s 13-yard run on third down put the Brothers at the Wildcats’ five, and on fourth-and-goal at the six, MacPherson found Radziewicz for his fifth TD pass, and the PAT forced a 35-35 tie.
Quiet during the second half to this point, Naton spoke up again with a 38-yard pass to Sean Howard. Then WG nibbled away until Naesean Howard found his way to the goal line on a three-yard run around the corner with 6:01 left. Two offsides penalties by CBA led to a two-point try that Naesean Howard converted, and the lead was eight.
Now needing a touchdown and two points to tie, the Brothers instead made a pivotal mistake when MacPherson rushed a throw over the middle – and Sean Howard, picking it off, returned the interception 38 yards for a score.
Naton found Naesean Howard for a 62-yard TD pass on a successful screen pass with 1:23 left. All told, the Howard brothers combined for six touchdowns
“They are two outstanding athletes that step up and make big plays,” said Corley.
And those big plays led to big offensive numbers. Naesean Howard had 18 carries for 274 yards, while his quarterback, Naton, completed 11 of 14 passes for 265 yards. MacPherson set career marks for passing yards (355) and TD passes (five) in a losing effort.
WG (10-0) will face Section IV champion Binghamton in next Friday night’s Class AA regional final at 8 p.m. at Vestal High School. The winner there gets to the Nov. 19 state semifinal at East Syracuse-Minoa Stadium against Orchard Park or Rush-Henrietta.