The Alden Bulldogs, led by bruising tailback Corey Barczykowski, bulldozed their way into the state semifinals for the first time in school history on Saturday.
Barczykowski, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior behemoth, ran for 273 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries as Alden beat Section V (Rochester area) champion East Rochester/Gananda, 35-7 in a Class B Far West Regional played before an estimated 2,000 fans at All-High Stadium
The Bulldogs (11-0), ranked No. 2 in the state, will face Section IV (Binghamton area) champion and top-ranked Maine-Endwell, a 50-14 winner over III-Cazenovia, in the state semifinals at 3 p.m. Saturday at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester.
“He might sleep good tonight,” Alden coach Dick Diminuco said of Barczykowski, who now has a new school-record 2,136 yards on the season. The previous mark was 2,003 yards set by Sean Nowicki in 2002.
Two of Barczykowski’s scores came after intermission as the Bulldogs out-scored the under-sized Bombers (9-2), 21-0. On Alden’s first possession of the second half, Barczykowski scored from 20 yards out on a fourth-and-one play. Early in the fourth quarter, Barczykowski added another touchdown, bursting off left tackle from 29 yards out. Nearly all of Barczykowski’s yards came between the tackles.
“Coach tells me to run north and south, so that’s what I always do,” said Barczykowski, whose two-yard touchdown burst less than four minutes into the game set the tone for the Bulldogs, who racked up 418 yards of total offense in the win. “I’m not much of a speed runner to the outside, but once I get going (up the middle), I’ve got some speed to pull away.”
Junior quarterback Brian Stoldt, who rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs with a two-yard sneak late in the final quarter, added: “Corey ran very hard today like he has all year. He’s physical. He’s tough to bring down. He’s very hard to stop. Our offensive line and tight end Alex Darrow did a great job, too.”
Diminuco also had high praise for his signal caller, who seemed to steady the Bulldogs late in the first half with his calm demeanor. The Bombers tied the game at 7 with 1:54 left in the second quarter when quarterback Zach Hauser hooked up with a wide-open Andrew Fischer for a seven-yard touchdown strike on a fourth-and-goal play. The 11-play, 76-yard scoring drive was aided by a pair of 15-yard penalties on the Bulldogs.
But Stoldt (9 for 12, 120 yards) gathered his offensive teammates and led them on a six-play, 58-second drive that culminated with a perfectly-placed 13-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hopcia (four catches, 35 yards). That ensured not only a halftime lead for Alden, but also momentum and confidence.
“I felt like for the first time all year we started to hang our heads a little bit after they scored,” Stoldt explained. “We started to get a little mad at each other. But I think we knew the big issue was that we had to come back right away. We rallied the troops, got fired up and marched down the field. That was huge.”
The defense also performed well against a balanced East Rochester/Gananda attack, allowing just 111 total yards. Domenic Brotz had a team-high eight tackles, while Phil Zobrest and Barczykowski had one sack apiece.
“What a great group of kids,” Dimunico said. “They work hard, They do the things we ask them to do. I’m really proud of them. I know we didn’t look very good in the first half, but we fought back. We went in at halftime and made a few adjustments. We were just better than them up front.”
Alden’s win was even more sweet considering it had suffered a pair of gut-wrenching defeats in the same round of the state playoffs the last two seasons. Both of those losses came at the hands of eventual state champion Hornell, which moved down to Class C this season. Hornell, which has won 50 consecutive games, beat Cleveland Hill earlier Saturday.