They had waited since 2011 for the West Genesee football program to have a Section III Class AA playoff game on the turf at Mike Messere Field, and it was not about to get wasted.
The Wildcats took control against Christian Brothers Academy Friday night within the first two minutes and never let up from there, putting together an impressive 38-8 victory over the Brothers.
And it sends WG into next Friday’s sectional semifinal at 7:30 at Bragman Stadium against Liverpool, who needed a touchdown in the final two minutes to rally past Utica Proctor 20-14. The gets Cicero-North Syracuse or Fayetteville-Manlius in the Nov. 3 title game at the Carrier Dome.
Not long ago, CBA had made championship runs an annual habit, but with a young, mostly untested roster, it only won one game in the regular season, yet still qualified for the playoffs.
Any hopes the Brothers had for an upset began to dissipate when it fumbled on its first possession at its own 32-yard line.
Having created a turnover, the Wildcats saw it turn into points when, on the very next play, Tyler Cook threw deep – and found tight end Chandler McAvan, who went to the end zone.
Riley Small converted the extra point, and Small returned later in the first quarter to cap off another WG drive with a 25-yard field goal that made it 10-0 going to the second period.
Mixing runs and passes well, the Wildcats further extended its lead with 7:07 left in the half when Brad May broke free up the middle for a 15-yard touchdown dash.
Not content with that, WG put together another drive as the first-half clock wound down, reaching the Brothers’ three before Cook found Ben Rustay in the end zone with 2.3 seconds to play.
Though May, from five yards out, and Eddie Hebert, from nine yards out, would add touchdown runs in the second half, the bigger story was another superb performance by the Wildcats’ defense.
For the fourth time this season, WG’s first-team unit did not allow any points, the lone CBA score coming on a Jack Szatkowski interception return in the fourth quarter.
McAvan notched seven tackles, six of them solo, while three of Brendan Hammerle’s seven tackles were solo efforts. Chris Schahczenski had six tackles, with Brian Felix adding five tackles.
Five different times, the Wildcats earned sacks, two of them by Areace Appleton as Jack Miller, Trent Sprague and Ahmir Gambino had one sack apiece.
Cook completed nine passes for 113 yards, while May ran for 92 yards on 14 carries as Hebert added 48 yards on 11 carries.
The semifinal with Liverpool is a reunion of sorts, since Warriors head coach Dave Mancuso used to hold the same position with the Wildcats in the early 2000s. Now it’s Liverpool standing in the way of WG’s title dreams.