SYRACUSE For all the ups and downs, the injuries and bad luck that have struck them, the West Genesee football team is still in a prime position to land a Class AA home playoff game a few weeks from now.
The Wildcats took a large step toward that goal last Friday night, when it went to Corcoran and, showing vast improvement on the defensive side, battled to a 27-7 victory over the Cougars.
Going in, both WG and Corcoran had 1-1 records in the Class AA-2 division, trailing co-leaders CBA and Henninger. And the Cougars' lone league win, on Sept. 21, was a strange game against winless Cicero-North Syracuse where it prevailed by a 2-0 margin.
What that showed, if nothing else, was that Corcoran had a strong defense, something that manifested itself again here through a scoreless first quarter.
WG broke through, though, in the second period when Naesean Howard broke free for a 23-yard touchdown run. Just as important was the way the Wildcats' defense shut down anything that Corcoran tried, a stark contrast to the points given up in previous outings against Central Square and CBA.
So it was 7-0 going to halftime, but WG needed more. Dan Ginestro, still missing his top receiver, Ted Glesener (out with a broken bone in his foot), has found a new target in tight end Will Northrop, and it was Northrop's seven-yard TD catch in the third quarter that expanded his team's lead to 13-0.
Corcoran, without a touchdown for six-plus quarters, finally got one when Quinton Pearson took off on a 68-yard sprint to the end zone that cut the margin to 13-7, but it didn't stay there.
Late in the period, WG drove down to the Cougars' nine-yard line, from where Ginestro found Brett Colvin in the end zone. That same pair also got a two-point conversion, making it 21-7 with one period left.
Again, the Wildcats' defense stepped up, making sure Corcoran didn't rally. Howard returned to clinch the win with a four-yard scoring run.
WG's two remaining regular-season games are at home, starting with Friday's Homecoming match-up with winless (0-5) Cicero-North Syracuse. What happens with the Henninger-CBA first-place showdown on that same night will go a long way toward determining the meaning of the Wildcats' regular-season finale with the Black Knights on Oct. 12.