Friday night, after dismantling the Westfield Wolverines at Walter J. Hutchison Stadium, the Wilson football team gathered together on the field. Several coaches addressed the team, and as they finished, the players gathered together into a tighter circle, put their hands together and yelled, “Ralph!”
They were referring to Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Section VI finals are held. If Friday’s 27-8 quarterfinal victory over the Wolverines was any indication, they sure were serious.
The second-seeded Lakemen (6-2) dominated defensively, forcing the Wolverines (5-3) into five turnovers and scoring a touchdown
of its own. The unit pitched a shutout, with Westfield’s only score coming off a kickoff return.
The Wilson offense took advantage of the defense’s play, scoring twice off turnovers.
“Our defense played phenomenally,” Wilson coach Bill Atlas said. “They pitched a shutout. I told them before the game that great defenses don’t break. They can bend, as long as they don’t break. We didn’t break tonight.”
The defensive effort was led by senior linebacker Steve Szuba, who had four of the five turnovers with three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
“That was probably the best all-around game we’ve played since I’ve been here,” said Szuba, who missed most of last season with a knee injury. “It was total team focus. We all have the same goal, and that’s to get to the Ralph.”
The Lakemen opened the scoring in the second quarter, scoring on a 7-play drive that started a their 12 after the Wolverines failed to convert a fourth down. Senior running back Chris Reid had the big gain, taking a toss 32 yards down the left sideline.
The run set up junior Tim Walch’s 14-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Nick Bell. Dan Myrto kicked the extra point to give the Lakemen a 7-0 advantage.
Placekicker Jarred Held blasted the ensuing kickoff into the Westfield end zone for a touchback. On the Wolverines’ first play, the snap sailed over quarterback Dylan MacCubbin’s head. Wilson’s Ryan Hecko scooped up the fumble and took it in from 10 yards out for the score, and Myrto’s extra point sailed through the uprights to make the score 14-0.
Szuba picked off his first pass of the day on the following drive on a crossing route that MacCubbin threw right into his chest. He grabbed his second in the third quarter on a very similar play, giving the Lakemen possession at the Westfield 30.
Walch took advantage, hitting Bell in the end zone on the very next play for the connection’s second score. A bad snap erased the PAT, and the Lakemen led 20-0.
Things took a strange turn in the fourth quarter when Wilson’s Brian Kerwin drilled MacCubbin for a sack on first down. The ball popped out, and a Wilson player grabbed the loose ball while falling to the ground. As he went down, he dropped the ball, and the referees blew the whistle as another Wilson player appeared to recover the second fumble.
After a delay, the referees awarded the Wolverines possession and a first-and-10 from the original line of scrimmage, which caused an uproar in the stands.
Atlas said that the early whistle blew the play dead before it should have. By rule, an inadvertent whistle cancels the result of the play and leads to a replay of the down, which is why the officials gave possession to Westfield.
The Lakemen recovered from the call two plays later when Szuba jumped on a fumble caused by a missed handoff. The Wilson offense capped the following drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by senior back Justin Slango and Myrto’s PAT.
Westfield’s Kyle Witmer took Held’s kick 91 yards to pay dirt for his team’s only score with 4:43 left in the game. The Wolverines had a chance to make the game interesting late, but a tipped pass flew high into the air before dropping into Szuba’s arm for his third INT of the night.
“I was so excited when I saw that,” Szuba said. “I was hoping I could take it back.”
WEST SENECA — Chris Rudes scored twice but the No. 4 seed Spartans’ final drive ended with an interception after top-seeded
East took the lead on a two-point conversion to advance.
“We felt like we’d be the toughest team they’d play against,” Spartans head coach Al Cavagnaro said. “The kids put up a tough
fight, but it didn’t end the way we hoped.”
Sam Terrizino led the Spartans on a drive to take the lead, 35-28, late in the fourth quarter on a Chris Rankie one-yard touchdown
run before East drove down the field to score the eventual game-winner the following drive.
Terrizino’s pass was intercepted with just under 1:30 remaining and East iced to game to avoid the upset.
CLARENCE — The visiting Lockport High School junior varsity football Cubs defeated the Clarence JV, 22-16, Thursday night
under the lights, in a thriller.
Scoring touchdowns for Lockport were Tyler Frass, Nick Hamilton and Andrew Bronson.
With the win, the Cubs finished 6-2 on the season under head coach Josh Jablonski.