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Wildcats topple Central Square in playoff opener

WG to face Utica Proctor in surprising AA semifinal

West Genesee defenders Matt Nichols (56) and Nick Ferranti (64) sack Central Square quarterback Mitchell Jones in last Friday’s Class AA quarterfinal. The Wildcats beat the Red Hawks 48-20 and will face Utica Proctor in the semifinal round.

West Genesee defenders Matt Nichols (56) and Nick Ferranti (64) sack Central Square quarterback Mitchell Jones in last Friday’s Class AA quarterfinal. The Wildcats beat the Red Hawks 48-20 and will face Utica Proctor in the semifinal round. Dana Northrop

— A rather important figure, missing from much of the West Genesee football team's recent narrative, emerged again, just in time to kick-start the Wildcats' push for a Section III Class AA title.

Matt Naton, fully healed and back on the field, accounted for 361 total yards as WG improved to 8-0 and took out Central Square 48-20 in Friday night's opening round of the AA playoffs at Wildcat Stadium.

Overall, Naton completed 17 of 24 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for another score. Teddy Glesener caught nearly half of Naton's successful attempts, finishing with 133 yards on eight completions, while Sean Howard had 105 yards on four catches and tight end Brett Colvin managed 79 yards on just three catches.

Back on Sept. 30, Naton suffered a head injury at Baldwinsville. A week later, the same thing happened against Utica Proctor as, on both occasions, backup Dan Ginestro had to run the Wildcats' offense in relief.

Then Ginestro played the entire game as WG rallied past Henninger 25-22 on Oct. 15 at Sunnycrest Field to complete an undefeated regular season. Since a top seed was secured before the game against the Black Knights, there was no need for Naton to rush his return.

Six days later, though, all was clear for Naton, easing the concerns of Wildcat fans who wondered if Central Square, playing its first post-season game since 2002, could spring an upset.

It didn't take long for Naton to get WG on the board, as on his team's first possession he moved the Wildcats to the Red Hawks' 13-yard line before finding Glesener in the end zone. Central Square did cut it to 7-6 late in the period when its signal-caller, Mitchell Jones, went 12 yards for the TD.

In the second quarter, sophomore tailback Naesean Howard found the end zone on a 22-yard run, only to have Jones counter with a 30-yard TD scramble and a two-point pass to Dillon Ransom to tie it, 14-14.

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