SYRACUSE 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.