After a one-year absence, the Westhill football team returned to the Section III playoffs – but it wasn’t anywhere near triumphant.
Cazenovia, the Class B East division champions, turned back the Warriors 48-6 in last Saturday’s opening-round game at Buckley-Volo Field, part of a full weekend for local teams inside and outside the playoff realm.
This was a Westhill side that came into the playoffs at 2-5, far removed from its heyday late in the last decade, when it ruled the Class B West division and reached the sectional final four years in a row, winning it all in 2009.
Wasting little time, the Lakers were on the board less than 90 seconds into the game. Ryan Cook returned a Warrior punt 30 yards to Westhill's 15-yard line, and Jake Wilson found the end zone on the next play, putting his team in front 7-0.
That margin doubled to 14-0 late in the first quarter. Facing a fourth-down-and-three at the Westhill 36, Kevin Hopsicker gave an option pitch to Andrew Vogl, who ran right, picked up the first down, and then cut back to the left, sprinting past the defenders to the goal line for the first of his two TD's.
Briefly, Westhill rose up, cutting it to 14-6 early in the second quarter as Reed Derrenbacker's 34-yard pass to Dan Gratien set up a four-yard scoring pass from Derrenbacker to Chris Brusa.
But a botched squib kick got returned by Carter Franz deep into Warrior territory, and with the short field Cazenovia scored less than two minutes later, Vogl finding the end zone from six yards out.
Hopsicker's only TD pass of the afternoon involved some good fortune. From the Westhill 29 with 4:22 left in the half, Hopsicker sent a jump ball to the end zone, and a Westhill defender tipped it - but Colligan snared it anyway for the six points. It was 28-6 at halftime.