ROCHESTER – The Alden football team which put together the most successful season in its history met its match Saturday.
Section IV champion Maine-Endwell defeated the Bulldogs, 49-14, in a Class B state semifinal played before an estimated 800 at Sahlen’s Stadium. It was Alden’s first appearance in the state final four.
The Spartans (12-0) will play for a state title Saturday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
“It kills me to say it, but the better team won today,” said Bulldogs junior quarterback Brian Stoldt. “There’s no doubt about it, they’re a powerhouse and you run into them sometimes.”
Sometimes? Alden has faced some pretty brutal challenges in the state playoffs.
They drew three-time state champion Hornell, currently riding a 51-game winning streak, the last two years in the Far West Regionals. Maine-Endwell hoisted the Class A state trophy last year before dropping down to B.
The Spartans, who are ranked No. 1 in the state, have outscored their 12 opponents this season, 627-113, with their closest game a 28-7 win over Union-Endicott.
They took an Alden team known for its line play and rushed for 398 yards. The Bulldogs, who entered the game ranked No. 2 in the state, managed just 163 yards rushing and 65 of those came on a Corey Barczykowski touchdown run in the fourth quarter after the game had been decided.
“Our strength all season has been our offensive line, and they just beat us up up front,” said Alden coach Dick Diminuco. “I am surprised and disappointed. We struggled up front today and we haven’t done that for the previous 11 games. I guess that’s where you win or lose football games.
“Matt Gallagher, their coach, he was great at the end of the game,” added Diminuco. “He was classy, he could have put more on us, and I’ve become a fan of Maine-Endwell, even though they got the win today.”
Barczykowski finished with 116 on 14 attempts to end the season with 2,252 yards. He ends his career with 4,284 making him the No. 4 all-time leading rusher in Western New York. He’s 11 yards behind 2000 Jamestown graduate Aaron Leeper.
Against the Spartans, Barczykowski’s biggest contribution, arguably, came at defensive back. He finished with 15.5 tackles, including 11.5 in the first half. Alex Darrow added 6.5 tackles and Dominic Brotz was next with 5.0.
“They were physical, they played hard every single play,” said Barczykowski, who’s named his team’s Defensive MVP for the game. “They had a great rushing attack, honestly it was hard to pick up the ball when they were running – you didn’t know where it was going. We came out in the second half and tried to give them more of a game.”
But the first half was too damaging for Alden. Maine-Endwell put together a game’s worth of stats during its 27-0 first half. The Spartans rushed for 250 yards and had 20 first downs. They owned the time of possession: 16:19 to 7:22.
Alden had limited success early in the second half with short passes into the flat. The Bulldogs, however, had no answer for M-E’s ground game. Nick Sorrenti, a 6-foot-1, 240 pounder, finished with 128 yards on 19 attempts. Diminuco described him as “a grown man.” Justin Jacoby added 116 yards on 14 tries and two touchdowns.
Alden’s second score came on a 32-yard scamper by Austin Hopcia with 3:00 left in the game.
“They were a much better football team than we were today,” said Diminuco. “They were tough, physical and came at you with a lot of different weapons. I’ll be shocked if they don’t win next week. They’re one of the better football teams that I’ve seen … and I’m an old man. I wish our kids would have played a little better, but I’m proud of them.”