Friday night’s game between Orchard Park (6-1) and Lancaster (7-0) has become a big one, due to Bennett’s first six games being ruled out after a player was ruled ineligible by Division VI .
The Tigers go from 4-2 overall and 2-0 in Class AA, to 0-6 and 0-2.
The Tigers immediately went from top of class AA to bottom. It lifted legends and Quakers to the top. With the two teams meeting late in the season, the winner would claim the split and secure the No. 1 seed entering the playoffs.
With the stakes raised, the game was competitive and was tied at 14-14 early in the fourth quarter. It would be Lancaster who would escape, beating Orchard Park 16-0 in the last frame to claim a 30-14 victory.
“We’ve made some adjustments to our running game,” Lancaster coach Eric Rupp said. “Orchard Park did a good job of giving us different looks in the box and switching with a lot of moves before the snap. We were able to make some adjustments in the fourth quarter.
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Senior Max Stoldt led the Legends offense with 114 passing yards on 8 of 17 attempts and a touchdown. Senior Micah Harry had 28 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown, and was also Stoldt’s favorite target with four receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, Lancaster forced Orchard Park to commit five turnovers – two interceptions and three fumbles. Seniors Darius Cervi and Sam Judasz had 10 tackles apiece, and senior Mike Sell fired Quakers quarterback Ben Gocella twice.
“Our defensive team did a terrific job.” Rupp said. “They gave Gocella a lot of different looks, they brought a lot of different pressure and we didn’t really allow him to get comfortable.”
A situation beyond their control, coupled with a victory, made the champions of legends.
“It’s great for our kids, obviously they work really hard for it,” Rupp said. “At the same time, it’s an unfortunate situation (with Bennett).”
Lancaster will conclude its regular season next week against longtime rival Depew.
“It’s the best week of the year in Lancaster,” Rupp said. “I am privileged to be part of this game that has been going on for so long.”
Jamestown started its season with losses to Class AA Lancaster and Orchard Park. Both defeats were close and a clear sign that the Red Raiders could still compete with their former division mates, despite now playing in Class A1.
Since those two games, Jamestown has enjoyed a five-game winning streak. His most recent win was a 57-26 win over Niagara Wheatfield. The Red Raiders are averaging 49.8 points over the streak and are holding their opponents to an average of 18.8 points. Before playing the Falcons, Jamestown had shut out its last two opponents.
“We just kept the faith and belief in what we’re doing,” Jamestown coach Tom Langworthy said. “We try to train our players as much as possible and the coaches continue to believe in what we are doing, and the results have seen us in the win column. It is gratifying for me and our coaches that we have been able to train our young team and get ready to play every week and get some wins.
Jamestown’s defense was one of the best in the section. The Red Raiders have three players in the top 25 in total tackles: senior Sean O’Brien (1st, 125 tackles), senior Mason Mcvinney (18th, 71 tackles) and junior Carsen Bane (25th, 64 tackles). For the season, opponents Jamestown are averaging 22.4 points.
“There are some things we can do better,” Langworthy said. “We left a few points on the table and we could have done better to get a few more saves. We will use it for teaching and learning and a way to grow. It will help us stay motivated as we head into the playoffs.
Jamestown’s offense is averaging 41.9 points, and the team’s pace leader is North Dakota State University’s commitment and senior quarterback Trey Drake.
He is fourth in the section in passing yards (1,613), sixth in completions (101) and fifth in passing touchdowns (18). Drake has gone for 58.7% of his passes, averages 9.4 passing yards per attempt and has a QBR of 122.6.
“He’s had a great season for us the last few weeks,” Langworthy said. “He has a dynamite season and has worked thousands of hours behind the scenes to play well under the backstage lights. He has done the job and deserves all the success he has. More importantly, the fact that he plays well helps our team and he knows it.
Earlier this season, Drake jumped into the Jamestown record books by topping the ratings of 2013 Buffalo News Player of the Year Jacob Sisson to become the program’s all-time leader in yards per passing and passing touchdowns. Sisson’s previous marks were 4,839 career passing yards and 49 passing touchdowns. For his career, Drake is currently at 62 career touchdowns and 5,241 passing yards. That makes him the first Red Raider with at least 50 passing touchdowns and 5,000 passing yards.
Salamanca beat Eden/North Collins 48-15 on Friday for their fifth victory of the season. After a seven-win season, it’s the first time the Warriors have had back-to-back five-win seasons since 2012-13.
“We were expecting to put together a game where we perform at a high level,” Salamanca coach Chad Bartoszek said. “We had quarters and halves, but we really wanted to see where we were towards the end of the year. We want to make sure we perform. It was as good as we have been doing this season We have a lot of guns, and we’re tough when we perform like that.
One of those weapons is senior Jesse Stahlman, who leads the team with 114 carries and 706 rushing yards. The Warriors go as far as he goes, literally, but his value isn’t just limited to offense. He leads the team with 62 total tackles, including eight for a loss.
“He’s been everything you can ask for,” Bartoszek said. “He’s really a Salamanca Warrior football player. Since his second (year) he’s been starting both ways, and we’ve had some really good seasons with him as a leader. We rely on him for everything. He deserves recognition. I’d like to see us get some playoff wins so he can get more recognition throughout the section because he really deserves it. He’s had a solid career here, and I hope we we’ll end up strong for him.
The Warriors (5-2) have scored at least 40 points in three of the last four games and have scored 48 points in consecutive games. With Stahlman leading the team in the backfield and on defense, second-year quarterback Maddox Isaac also had a strong season. He has 819 passing yards and 10 touchdowns.
“We have a lot, we really have it,” Bartoszek said. “In Class C high school football, you have to run. When you do things right, you can put points on the board quickly. We have speed and talent in several positions.
• Dalton Giboo rushed 17 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns to lead Pioneer to a 44-0 win over Lake Shore.
• A petition titled “Overturn Division VI’s Unjust Ruling Against Bennett High School Football Team” has been created following the Tigers dropping their first six games of the season due to a ineligible player. As of this writing, the petition has over 1,100 signatures.
• Lackawanna improves to 7-0 after a 40-14 win over Newfane. In the victory, senior Billy Gechel went 11 of 17 for 247 yards and set the program record for most touchdown passes in a game with five and touchdowns in a season with 18. Senior Ashlin Alexander-Hall had had four catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns, and senior Shyheim Smalls had four receptions for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Sunday Lackwanna senior Ikegwuonu had six tackles and two sacks.
• Wilson’s Evan Wolfe had 10 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown in the team’s 27-7 win over Frewsburg.
• Randolph’s Xander Hind needed just eight carries to rack up 236 yards and five touchdowns as the Cardinals beat Cattaraugus/Little Valley 35-8.
• Portville beat Gowanda/Pine Valley 42-14. For the Panthers, Luke Petryszak threw 6 of 13 for 96 yards and a touchdown. He rushed 11 times for 154 yards and a touchdown.
• South Park’s Noah Willoughby, the division’s VI passing yards leader, threw for 247 yards on 13 of 20 passes and four touchdowns in the Sparks’ 32-27 win over Williamsville South.
• Mohamed Khalil entered the end zone twice for Depew as the Wildcats beat JFK 36-12. Khalil had 16 carries and 136 rushing yards.
• In a match between two of the best in class D, CSP won 22-20 against Franklinville/Ellicottville. Tate Catanese threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns on 21 of 33 attempts.
• Another week, another big game for Jermaine Atkins of Kenmore West. Against North Tonawanda, he had 18 carries for 230 yards and three touchdowns in the team’s 51-8 win.
• Williamsville East’s Calvin Kulik scored 14 of 25 in the Flames’ 26-13 win over Hutch Tech for 184 yards and three touchdowns.
• West Seneca West’s Dustin Thompson had 13 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown in a 14-6 win over Sweet Home. The Panthers have lost five straight after starting the season 2-0.
• Caleb Nicholas led Amherst to a 36-22 win over Burgard/Perf. Arts with a record 20 carries, 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Tigers have won three of their last four games.
• Falconer/Cass/Maple Grove defeated Silver Creek/Forestville 42-7. Dalton Caldwell had three carries for 36 yards and three touchdowns.
• Hamburg handed McKinley their first loss of the season with a 22-14 win.
• Maryvale improved to 7-0 after a 35-19 win over Olean.