Sep 05, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Even within its own ranks, the Liverpool football team might have wondered whether last season’s successful resurrection was something that could not sustain itself in 2007.
But there’s a lot less doubt now.
After a shaky and nervous start last Friday at Corcoran, the Warriors asserted itself on both sides of the ball by the second half and beat the Cougars 24-12.
Head coach Dave Mancuso said his team came out slow, only to use an airtight defense to settle into the game — something the Warriors’ new quarterback needed.
Making his first varsity start under center, junior Tyler Kamide played it safe early, content to hand it off and not try anything too creative.
He could afford to do so, since Liverpool’s defense, again under the tutelage of Nick Spataro, pursued well and never let Corcoran earn the big plays that can prove so deflating.
Despite this, Liverpool trailed 6-0 for much of a penalty-filled first half, and given how shaky its punting game was, it was fortunate not to be down by more.
Those points came when Corcoran’s Laquan Rouse allowed a punt to bounce to his own 18-yard line, then picked it up and ran past the Warriors’ coverage down the left sideline, 82 yards for a touchdown.
Also, the Warriors allowed a 35-yard punt return by Brandon Milliken, and saw another punt snap dropped. Thanks to the defense, though, Corcoran could not turn either opportunity into points, and it stayed 6-0.
Finally, Kamide got comfortable enough to strike late in the second quarter. From Corcoran’s 34, the junior threw a perfect spiral down the middle to T.J. Davis, who caught it in full stride and dashed to the end zone. Anthony Salamone’s extra point put Liverpool in front 7-6.
Just before halftime came the game’s most crucial play. After Zach Crotty stripped Rouse and Dom Caruso recovered, the Warriors drove to midfield, where Kamide attempted a swing pass to the sideline. Corcoran’s Brian Warren read it, stepped in front — and dropped the ball.
Had Warren caught it, it was likely to be a Cougar touchdown. Instead, the Warriors clung to that 7-6 edge, and every Warrior partisan knew that was a stroke of good fortune.
“That was the worst half I’d seen us play while I’ve been here and we were up by one point,” said Mancuso. “But we still played great defense, and that was the key.”
Liverpool took the second-half kickoff, eliminated the mistakes that had plagued them throughout the early stages, and started to dominate.
Running with power, Caruso, Paul Stanzione and Ricky Azzoto picked up large chunks of yards as the offensive line of Pat Single, Rich Neale, Dan Wentworth, Sean Kierwa and Rich Magnanti pushed Corcoran’s front line around.
When necessary, Kamide threw it, too, as he connected with tight end Mike Suatoni on a 43-yard completion to set up Caruso’s eight-yard TD run that made it 14-6.
On its next possession, the Warriors went 60 yards to build the lead to 21-6, culminating when Kamide, from the Cougars’ nine-yard line, executed a perfect bootleg and raced to the corner of the end zone. For the game, Kamide completed nine of 13 passes for 93 yards, and earned 65 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Another solid drive in the fourth quarter (Kamide got a 28-yard run off another bootleg) led to Salamone’s 21-yard field goal. From there, the Warriors’ defense sealed the matter, forcing Corcoran into mistakes as Crotty earned two interceptions to go along with his forced fumble. Caruso, Davis, Suatoni and Desmond Bradley all had standout games on the defensive side.
Expect more physical play Saturday night, at the Carrier Dome, when Liverpool confronts long-time rival Baldwinsville at 7:30. After an 0-7 regular season last fall, the Bees assured that won’t happen again by beating Nottingham 13-6 in its season opener.