As part of Friday night’s football festivities at West Genesee, the school welcomed back members of the team that, 10 seasons ago, stunned and delighted the Camillus community by winning the program’s only state championship.
They nearly got to witness a big step in the Wildcats’ climb back to respectability, too, as WG led undefeated Central Square with less than a minute to play before getting caught and taking a tough 14-12 defeat to the Redhawks.
Already with league wins over Rome Free Academy, Corcoran and Henninger in the books, Central Square had a chance to grab sole possession of first-place in the Class AA-1 division because, across town, CBA, without star running back Stevie Scott in the lineup, lost, 49-35, to Fayetteville-Manlius.
Yet the Wildcats had no intention of making that quest easy. In fact, WG scored first, taking barely two minutes to seize a 6-0 lead as it drove to the one-yard line and converted on Brad May’s one-yard plunge.
With a powerful ground attack, Central Square quickly got even, driving to the Wildcats’ eight before Jack Dunn scored, but the conversion was missed, keeping it at 6-6.
And that’s where they stayed for two full periods, the two sides each putting together drives, but not converting them. Then, late in the third quarter, from his own 16, Liam Barry threw deep and found John Northrop, who went the remaining 84 yards for a touchdown.
All the while, WG’s defense had worked hard to keep the Redhawks out of the end zone, surrendering yards but making the key stops. When the Wildcats forced a turnover deep into the fourth quarter, it had a chance to put the game away.
Instead, it was Central Square forcing a turnover and then pushing down the field one last time. Jamie Battaglia, who finished the night with 23 carries for 190 yards, made his final yard count the most as it produced the tying TD with 52.8 seconds left. Electing to go for two, the Redhawks converted when Nick Ransom found the end zone.
In defeat, Barry completed eight of 17 passes for 158 yards. Dan Purcell ran for 83 yards on just seven carries.
Elsewhere, Bishop Ludden, no. 9 in the latest state Class D rankings, improved to 4-0 when it ventured north for the second week in a row and, like it did at Sandy Creek, used plenty of big plays to beat Watertown IHC 40-20.
The first 13 minutes proved decisive as the Gaelic Knights rattled off 27 unanswered points. It took less than two minutes for Ludden to get on the board thanks to Sh’ikem Lee’s 29-yard scoring pass to Joe Connor.
Lee and Connor connected again on a 31-yard scoring strike after Sire Jones recovered a Cavaliers fumble, and Tamir Rowser’s 45-yard TD run, plus a two-point pass from Lee to Terrance Blatche, made it 21-0 going to the second period.
On the first play of that period, Connor took an IHC punt at midfield and raced 50 yards to the end zone. Only now did the Cavaliers get points, but Ludden countered with a long drive that Rowser finished off by scoring from six yards out.
Ahead 34-14 at halftime, the Gaelic Knights quieted down a bit in the second half, but its defense contained IHC, and Connor added one more big play with a second TD on a punt return, this one covering 60 yards, late in the third quarter.
Even more lopsided was the victory by Jordan-Elbridge at Phoenix, the Eagles improving to 2-2 on the season with a 75-0 win over the Firebirds.
Settling matters early, J-E scored four touchdowns in the first quarter and led 30-0 at the end of it. It kept going, the Eagles’ lead growing to 55-0 by halftime.
For the most part, the Eagles tried to hold back during the second half, but did call for a pass play while up 62-0, drawing some criticism from Phoenix coach Paul Sealy after the game.
J-E is on the road again next Friday to face Port Byron-Union Springs as Bishop Ludden hosts Cato-Meridian and West Genesee is home for a third consecutive week to face Rome Free Academy.
Mar 18, 2018