One blowout, one nail-biter, two wins

Golden Ea­gles run ram­pant in romp West Seneca East wears down foe

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS - By Rachel Lenzi NEWS SPORTS RE­PORTER By Miguel Ro­driguez NEWS STAFF

Aaron Wahler wasn’t im­me­di­ately sure-handed when it came to hold­ing onto the ball in the early min­utes of the Cleve­land Hill’s 54-6 foot­ball win against Letch­worth/War­saw. But he was sure-footed. Wahler ran for 177 yards and three touch­downs on 16 car­ries for the Golden Ea­gles in a Far West Class C Re­gional on Fri­day at Clarence High School.

Cleve­land Hill (10-1) ad­vances to a Class C state semi­fi­nal for the sec­ond year in a row. The Golden Ea­gles will face ei­ther Hol­land Patent of Sec­tion III or Susquehanna Val­ley of Sec­tion IV at 11 a.m. on Nov. 17 at Union-Endi­cott High School.

“There’s noth­ing dif­fer­ent,” Wahler said when asked the dif­fer­ence be­tween his team last year and his team this year. “We’re just as close as we were. We’ve just got to play hard the whole time. Last year, we got ahead of our­selves with a lead at half­time, but this year, we’ve got to stick through, and hope­fully we can end the sea­son at the [Car­rier] Dome.”

Wahler scored his first touch­down six min­utes into the game on a 45-yard run, then helped the Golden Ea­gles take a 22-6 lead less than two min­utes into the sec­ond half a 39yard run. He scored his third touch­down with 5:07 left on a 12-yard run to give Cleve­land Hill a 46-6 lead.

Yet play­ing in freez­ing rain,

Ea­gles

West Seneca East is a tough, phys­i­cal and de­ter­mined group that wears down foot­ball teams.

While folks in the 716 area code know that all too well, teams down­state will get to see those at­tributes up close and per­sonal for the first time next week­end in Bing­ham­ton.

West Seneca East’s sea­son to re­mem­ber con­tin­ues. It lives for an­other week thanks to a re­lent­less de­fen­sive ef­fort by the Tro­jans, who sti­fled Sec­tion V cham­pion Iron­d­e­quoit, 15-8, in the Class A Far West Re­gional con­test Fri­day night.

A crowd of more than 1,500 braved the el­e­ments on a cold, rainy evening at Clarence High School. They watched West Seneca East’s de­fen­sive line take con­trol and limit an Ea­gles of­fense led by reign­ing All-Greater Rochester Player of the Year Freddy June to just 16 pass­ing yards. They watched the Tro­jans notch four sacks and record two take­aways — with the first set­ting up the win­ning touch­down early in the third quar­ter. They watched as East handed the Ea­gles (10-1) their only loss of the sea­son.

With the vic­tory, West Seneca East (10-1) ad­vances to its first New York State Pub­lic High Schools Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion semi­fi­nal. The Tro­jans face Sec­tion III cham­pion In­dian River next Fri­day at 8 p.m. at Union-Endi­cott High School.

Tro­jans

Wahler had a few bob­bles in the early go­ing, and and his team­mates had a few near mis­cues when it came to han­dling the foot­ball. At one point, Wahler lost a punt that would have set up his team’s third pos­ses­sion.

“Af­ter play­ing in last week’s weather, this week’s weather is noth­ing new,” Wahler said, ref­er­enc­ing Cleve­land Hill’s 32-28 win against South­west­ern in a down­pour at New Era Field. “We’ve been used to this ter­ri­ble On the web: weather all our In their lives, so it’s noth­ing fa­thers’ new to us.”

Cleve­land Hill foot­steps,

coach Glen Gra­ham Clarence boys and his staff soc­cer seeks pre­pared their to re­write team to han­dle a his­tory slick sur­face by prac­tic­ing with a wet ball. “But the wet ball, in this cold con­di­tion, is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent,” Gra­ham said. “We just had to keep go­ing at it and get­ting used to it as best we could. And we were lucky that we only lost the one fum­ble.”

Letch­worth/War­saw scored its only touch­down with 1:46 left in the first quar­ter af­ter Wahler’s muffed punt. The In­di­ans (9-2) re­cov­ered the ball at the Cleve­land Hill 28, and needed three plays to score on a 1-yard run by quar­ter­back Tom Standera (5for-11 pass­ing, 38 yards).

Standera’s touch­down cut Cleve­land Hill’s lead to 8-6 go­ing into the sec­ond quar­ter, but it was the nar­row­est mar­gin of the game. The Golden Ea­gles scored the next six touch­downs and five two-point con­ver­sions, and fin­ished with 467 yards rush­ing on 48 car­ries. Letch­worth/War­saw fin­ished with 40 yards rush­ing on 27 car­ries.

When Wahler wasn’t han­dling the ball, Cleve­land Hill quar­ter­back Javon Thomas pro­vided sound re­in­force­ment. Thomas ran for three touch­downs and 128 yards on 16 car­ries, in­clud­ing a 39-yard touch­down run less than a minute into the fourth quar­ter.

“It’s al­ways im­por­tant to set the tone when you’re play­ing an­other cham­pi­onship-cal­iber team,” Gra­ham said. “We wanted to go af­ter them. There’s no, re­ally, dis­guis­ing what we’re go­ing to do. We’re go­ing to run the ball, so we want to set the tone, and it gives us a lot of en­ergy to our of­fen­sive line and all the re­ceivers.”

As for not be­ing able to hold onto the ball early in the game, Wahler said Cleve­land Hill went back to fun­da­men­tals: hold the ball high and tight and, as Wahler put it, “never let­ting go.”

The Golden Ea­gles main­tained ball pos­ses­sion for 26 min­utes, 13 sec­onds, in­clud­ing a third-quar­ter drive that lasted six min­utes and ended with Thomas’ 4-yard touch­down with 1:09 left de­spite tak­ing four penal­ties and los­ing line­men Tay­lor Durkin and Al­fred Walker to ejec­tions.

Durkin and Walker will not play next week­end in the state semi­fi­nal.

“Tay­lor’s a two-way starter and Al­fred’s a valu­able sub­sti­tute, but it’s just got to be next guy up,” Gra­ham said. “It’s no dif­fer­ent than if a guy sprains an an­kle or hurts a knee. The next kid’s got to go in and do a good job. We had that tonight and we’re just go­ing to have to work on it this week. I told both those guys, they’ve got to work hard in prac­tice to pre­pare the other guys and see if they can, maybe, earn an­other game in Syra­cuse.”

Wahler gave the depth of his pro­gram’s of­fen­sive line a vote of con­fi­dence as the Golden Ea­gles pre­pare for the state semi­fi­nal.

“The peo­ple we have as back­ups, I trust them, that they’re go­ing to work hard all week in prac­tice,” Wahler said. “Go­ing into the game, I have full faith in the whole of­fen­sive line.”

Harry Scull Jr./Buf­falo News

Cleve­land Hill run­ning back Aaron Wahler runs for a touch­down against War­saw-Letch­worth dur­ing the sec­ond half of the Golden Ea­gles’ vic­tory.

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