Sep 24, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Staying Section III’s lone undefeated Class AA entry was just one of the benefits that the West Genesee football team picked up from Friday night’s 44-14 victory over Fayetteville-Manlius at a rain-soaked Wildcat Stadium.
Not only did the Wildcats move to 4-0 on the season by scoring 30 unanswered points, it gained sole possession of first place in the Class AA-2 division. And with a blazing star turn, senior Matt Naton clearly established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in Central New York.
“Tonight, we proved to ourselves that we can play with anyone,” said Naton.
Overall, Naton threw for 405 yards on 14-of-19 completions, an average of nearly 30 yards per completion. He constantly burned a Hornets defense that, going into the game, concentrated on containing WG’s star tailback, Naesean Howard.
Naton said that, because the linebackers crept toward the line of scrimmage, he was able to exploit mismatches with his receivers, something that impressed WG head coach Joe Corley.
“Matt is a cool-headed kid that makes plays,” said Corley.
And it didn’t take long for Naton to burn F-M. Just 2:29 into the game, facing third down at his own 42-yard line, Naton drifted to his left, finding time to throw, and waited until Christian Schmidt flashed open beyond the F-M secondary. Naton threw, found Schmidt, and the 58-yard scoring play had the Wildcats ahead 7-0.
Two other times in the early going, WG drove inside the Hornets’ 10-yard line, only to settle for short field goals of 22 and 25 yards from Evan Stefano. This answered F-M’s first march, which went 67 yards, mostly on the ground, and ended in Sean Bright’s five-yard TD run.
Only once did Naton make a mistake, throwing into the flat early in the second quarter and watching F-M’s Ryan Simmons intercept the pass and return it 67 yards to the Wildcats’ three. Bright scored two plays later, and Jimmy Krizman’s extra point put the Hornets ahead 14-13.
Corley said the turnover didn’t faze his players one bit. “They are resilient kids,” said Corley. “They kept their composure and responded.”
Indeed, F-M’s lead lasted all of two plays and 72 seconds. From his own 39, Naton struck for yet another big play, finding Sean Howard in stride over the middle and watching the senior wide receiver go the rest of the way for a 61-yard score that put WG ahead for good.
What hurt the Hornets just as much was a trio of turnovers. Naton had already intercepted a pass, and Sean Pisik had recovered a fumble, when Pisik returned to intercept Wolfgang Shafer’s short throw near the Wildcats’ end zone late in the half.
Again, Naton burned F-M’s secondary for a big play, hitting Teddy Glesener on a 40-yard pass to get WG out of the shadow of its own end zone. Moments later, Naesean Howard took an option toss and streaked 46 yards to the end zone, expanding the Wildcats’ lead to 26-14, where it stood at the half.
All game long, Naton got time to work and pick apart F-M’s defense because the offensive line of Adam Wierbinski, Seamus Shanley, Joe Pedrotti, Matt Nichols and Dave Martin protected him, never letting the Hornets’ pass rush bother him.
Even when Naton did get sacked for the first time early in the third quarter, he responded with a 51-yard pass to tight end Brett Colvin, setting up Naesean Howard’s second TD, on a nine-yard run.
Pisik intercepted Shafer a second time, which led to a 37-yard connection from Naton to Colvin and Sean Howard scoring on a 13-yard run. And Naton used a 15-yard scramble to set up WG’s final touchdown on Naesean Howard’s two-yard plunge early in the fourth quarter.
All told, the Wildcats’ defense forced four turnovers and, in the second half, blanked an F-M team that, prior to this game, had amassed 182 points in three games. This came despite Bright gaining 136 yards on 25 carries.
But the challenges don’t end for WG, as it visits two-time defending Class AA champion Baldwinsville next Friday at 6:30. Following a season-opening loss to CBA, the Bees have reeled off three wins in a row, including a 41-12 romp over Central Square.
“This win (over F-M) was a statement, but it only gets tougher down the road,” said Corley.
The Hornets, now 2-2 on the season (2-1 league), return home next Friday to face Henninger, also 2-2 and 2-1 in league play following a 53-14 romp over Oswego.