Oct 20, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Just in time, West Genesee’s football team found the magic formula of clutch performance that served it so well when it won the Section III Class AA championship a year ago.
After a season full of close, frustrating defeats, the Wildcats stepped up down the stretch in Friday night’s foggy opening-round playoff game at Liverpool, scoring twice in a 41-second span late in the fourth quarter to eliminate the Warriors 36-25.
“The kids kept playing hard,” said head coach Joe Corley. “No one gave up, and we made plays and avoided costly mistakes.”
“We finally put a full game together,” said senior quarterback Dan Ginestro.
And because of that, WG (4-4) gets to return to LHS Stadium next Friday to play the Class AA semifinal against unbeaten (8-0) Christian Brothers Academy, who pulled away late to beat Utica Proctor 56-33 in its opening-round contest. Game time is 5 p.m.
That sense of resilience by the Wildcats, tested by an up-and-down regular season that included losses to Clarence, Fayetteville-Manlius and Henninger by a combined five points, was fully needed against Liverpool, for in many different instances events turned against WG.
Leading 15-7 with less than two minutes left in the first half, the Wildcats squandered that lead, allowing Trevor Monk to kick a 30-yard field goal and, after a bad possession and poor punt, seeing Jeff Edwards catch a 37-yard pass near the goal line and score from the one on the final play of the half.
Then, early in the third quarter, Naesean Howard fumbled at Liverpool’s four-yard line, and the Warriors recovered, promptly marching 96 yards, all on the ground, to stretch out its lead to 25-15 as Anthony Miller scored from three yards out.
Howard atoned with a series of long runs to set up a nine-yard TD sprint late in the third quarter, and he also ran in for two points, making it 25-23 going to the final period.
But it turned for good when Liverpool drove to WG’s 11-yard line, set to put the game away in the middle of the fourth quarter.
Needing just one yard for a key first down, the Warriors never got it as Garrett Waldron made two big tackles to stuff Miller and force a turnover on downs with 6:11 left.
Howard got the decisive march started with a 20-yard run near midfield. WG stalled, though, at its own 45 and faced a fourth-down-and-11 with less than four minutes left.
Rather than punt, the Wildcats went for it – and Ginestro, getting enough protection, found Brett Colvin on a crossing pattern for 21 yards and the game’s biggest first down.
With that new life, WG turned to Howard, who ran 21 yards to Liverpool’s six. With 1:54 to play, Waldron powered in from one yard out, and the Wildcats were back in front, 29-25.
Liverpool still had a chance to win it. On the very next play from scrimmage, though, Justin Capoto’s pass floated through the fog and got picked off, Anthony Armstrong returning it inside the Liverpool 10.
Howard did the rest, scoring the clincher on a one-yard plunge with 1:13 left to cap a night where he gained 281 yards on 32 carries, despite the ill-timed fumble. His counterpart, Edwards, also was strong, carrying the ball 33 times for 239 yards.
This leads the Wildcats back to CBA, whom it lost to Sept. 20 in Camillus. The Brothers’ powerful ground game and quick, aggressive defense caused fits for WG in that first meeting – among other things, Joey Pascarella sacked Ginestro four times.
So with a trip to the sectional finals at the Carrier Dome against Baldwinsville or Fayetteville-Manlius on the line, Corley said his team has to be prepared for the effort that the opponent will provide.
“There is no one that plays as hard as CBA,” said Corley. “You have to be physical with them right from the start.”