SYRACUSE Chris Hicks called it war.
Through six lead changes and 11 touchdowns, two exhausted football teams, Henninger and Liverpool, fought for the full 48 minutes on a humid 85-degree Saturday at Sunnycrest Field, but ultimately it was Hicks and Henninger who dealt the final blow.
A game-saving reception, followed by a game-sealing interception, marked the indispensable contributions made by Hicks in the closing minutes of the Black Knights’ 40-35 win over the Warriors in a thrilling season opener.
“I hate to say it’s kind of like you expect that (from Hicks),” Henninger head coach David Kline said. “We knew he’s had talent from the beginning. We’ve known what he can do from when he was a ninth-grader and started for us at defensive end.”
Dominating all three facets of the game, Hicks was an integral part of Henninger’s winning effort. He was one of two senior playmakers, along with tailback Darrell West, to help propel Henninger in the back-and-forth affair.
Hicks hauled in a 25-yard comeback route on a last-chance fourth-down-and-15 with four minutes left. Moments later, with Liverpool driving into Henninger territory, he leaped in front of Liverpool wide receiver Caleb Taylor and snatched Justin Capoto’s pass to clinch victory for Henninger.
As if that wasn’t enough, Hicks added a blocked extra point and a 93-yard kick return for another touchdown.
But early in the game, Henninger leaned on its other steady, fourth-year stud in West. He punched home the first score of the game 4:18 into regulation, and on the Black Knights’ next possession, he picked up right where he left off.
Taking a handoff, West slipped through a small hole on the right side and planted his left foot in front of a Liverpool linebacker before bouncing out right and scampering up the sideline for 37 yards. A short pass to Hicks on the left side set up West for his second score of the opening frame.