How many sophomore starters does it take to make it to The Ralph? In Sweet Home’s case, it’s three.
A trio of underclassmen, Brandon Smiley, Jordan Evert and Brad Zaffram, continue to make major contributions to the Panthers undefeated season, including Saturday’s 13-0 win over visiting Grand Island. The Class A semifinal win helped the Panthers earn their eighth straight trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Smiley had two interceptions and a fumble recovery as Sweet Home forced four Viking turnovers. Evert opened the scoring with a 5-yard run in the first quarter. Smiley returned his second interception 40 yards for Sweet Home’s second score in the fourth quarter.
“This is the ninth game so those kids are sophomores in name-only,” said coach John Faller. “Today was Brandon’s day to step up. Jordan Evert has been our leading rusher and Brad Zaffram has been leading the defense all year. Right now it’s like having seniors with two more years of eligibility, which is a great thing for our program.”
Orchard Park 33, Lockport 16: Mitch Wilson rushed for 248 yards on 27 carries to surpass 1,000 yards as the Quakers earned the right to defend their title at The Ralph. The Quakers (8-1) trailed 16-6 at halftime before outscoring the host Lions, 27-0, in the second half.
James Chambers gave Lockport a quick lead when he scored on the third play of the game on an 83-yard run. OP closed within 7-6 on Wilson’s 41-yard run later in the first quarter. Lockport added a safety when Chambers tackled an OP ball carrier in the end zone, and then he scored again on a 9-yard run to end the half.
The second half was all OP as the Quakers focused on tackling better and controlled the time of possession. Ben Holmes (150 yards, 15 carries) scored on the first play of the third quarter on a 77-yard run. He scored his second TD of the game on a 5-yard run. Wilson followed with TD runs of 7 and 20 yards in the fourth quarter. Chris Sanfilippo had 10 tackles while Connor Eddy and Bobby Akinyele recorded seven each.
Fredonia 21, JFK 0: The Hillbillies were dominant on defense as they slowed the Bears (7-2), who came into the game as winners of seven straight. JFK was held to three first downs, 24 yards of offense and were 0 for 8 passing with two interceptions. LB Cody Smith had 14 tackles.
Fredonia forced four turnovers thanks to Tyler DiRusso (interception, fumble recovery), Matt McCarthy (interception) and Nick Nocek (fumble recovery). Offensively, Jude Gardner caught a 45-yard TD pass and Zach Buckley and Weston Lee scored on the ground. Joey Burkowski had 10 tackles for JFK, which was looking to reach The Ralph for the first time since 1986.
St. Francis 29, Timon/St. Jude 7: When Alex Misterman broke off tackle for a 66-yard TD on the first play of the game it was a sign of things to come. It was the first of three TDs for Misterman, who finished with 197 yards on 20 carries.
“He didn’t have a breakout game, but it might have been a breakout game for the team,” said St. Francis coach Jerry Smith. “It’s the momentum carrying over from how well we played against St. Ignatius. We got beat, but we felt like we battled and that was the key. We just keep battling. We’ve been getting great senior leadership the last couple weeks.”
St. Francis QB Brian Melisz had 60 yards passing, including a 32-yarder to Misterman. Jarrett Dolegala led the defense with 10 tackles. Adam Dimillo scored Timon’s TD on a 20-yard run.
St. Francis will play at St. Mary’s next Saturday at 1 p.m. The Lancers won the first meeting, 33-7.
Clarence 48, Kenmore West 0: Junior running back Emaure Williams scored four TDs to break the school’s single season scoring record with 136 points. The old record of 120 points had been held by Kevin Clive since 1998.
Pioneer 12, Burgard 6: Senior running back Kyle Hoffman erupted for 236 yards on 27 carries and scored both of the Panthers’ TDs. Foster Dell had three fumble recoveries.
Cardinal O’Hara 15, Nichols 6: Senior Khari Wright had 162 yards and Zack Glowacki added 108 yards as the Hawks moved to 2-7 on Senior Day. Glowacki had two interceptions, one of which set up his own 15-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter.
RB/QB Anthony DiFrancesco left the game in the first quarter with a leg injury and did not return. He’s got close to 1,200 yards rushing. Cardinal O’Hara will play St. Joe’s next Saturday in the first round of the Monsignor Martin playoffs.