Sep 19, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Nine straight football meetings between Westhill and Marcellus – and nine straight Warrior victories, usually of the lopsided variety.
But there was nothing one-sided about what took place Friday night in front of a jam-packed crowd in Westhill’s home opener – and both teams could take something out of it.
True, Westhill won, 13-10, moving to 3-0 on the season and running its win streak over Marcellus to 10 by resorting to a new offensive formation made popular in the professional ranks.
But Marcellus felt good, too. Despite the crushing disappointment of seeing a decade-long drought against Westhill continue, it had shut down the Warriors most of the night, something few teams (especially the Mustangs) have pulled off in recent years.
Large throngs traveled from Marcellus to Westhill, making as much noise as the home fans. Both sides sensed that the winner would be the favorite in the Class B West division for the rest of the autumn.
By far, the night’s biggest story was the Marcellus defense. After getting torched for 40 points by Vernon Verona Sherrill the week before, a full week of practice had restored the Mustangs’ attitude – and the sight of blue jerseys made them downright hungry.
Thus, after Tyler Nigolian’s three-yard touchdown run gave Westhill a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, Marcellus closed ranks and shut out the Warriors for a long while.Fueled by that defense, Marcellus twice scored in the second period to go in front.
Will Fiacchi, ignoring his strained back, threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to his favorite recevier, Dan Rudy, and a deep pass to Derek Belvito set up Brendan Carey’s 21-yard field goal just before halftime.
Trailing 10-6 at the break, it was Westhill’s turn to be resilient on the defensive side. It contained running back Ricky Alfreds, and though Fiacchi was 15-for-27 for 229 yards, he couldn’t add to his team’s point total.
Every time Westhill got the ball, it could not move the ball, and this lingered well into the fourth quarter. Stumped, and needing to get something, head coach Gary Griffo restored to a tactic he intended to save for later in the season.
Jeff Law, normally the Warriors’ quarterback, moved to his old post at wide receiver, leaving Dan Ross under center to take direct snaps – a variation of the “Wildcat” formation popularized by the Miami Dolphins and other NFL teams.
The second time he did this, Ross, from the Mustangs’ 16-yard line, ran right, eluded a tackle, and kept going until he dove into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
Still, Marcellus had time to stage its own comeback. Fiacchi couldn’t quite pull it off, though, as Westhll’s Galen Robinson sacked him and, moments later, a pass went through Chaz Hayes’ hands – and Mark McAnaney got the interception. It was Fiacchi’s only interception of the night.
Westhill will go for four in a row this Friday, at Homer, as the Trojans are coming off a 20-13 win over Solvay. Marcellus goes north to face South Jefferson, who has won its last two games, including a 26-14 win over South Jefferson.