Alden wrote the final chapter of Springville’s Cinderella story on Saturday.
The Bulldogs’ third Section VI Class B title came at the expense of the determined Griffins, 42-7, before an estimated 3,000 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Alden, ranked No. 2 in the state, was a heavy favorite, but the Griffins’ first appearance in the title game since 1997 came with plenty of story lines, including the recent losses of several loved ones by Springville’s players. Springville (5-5) had won its last five games.
“They were playing great football, they were coming in as a Cinderella team, that great emotion, and we were really concerned about it,” said Alden coach Dick Diminuco. “People talk about the 5-4 record, you don’t get here being a crummy football team.”
Alden’s Corey Barczykowski is as long on talent as he is on last name. The senior running back finished with 175 yards on 22 carries. He enjoyed gaping holes courtesy of an offensive line led by Jason Bunk scoring on just the third play of the game on a 26-yard run.
The Bulldogs received a scare when Barczykowski lay on his own 30-yard line injured with 11 seconds left in the third quarter. He eventually walked off the field and spent the rest of the game with an ice pack around his right knee after absorbing a hit from defensive back Drew Scharra.
“I cut to the outside, I went to get low and he got lower than me and took out my knees as far as I know. I’ll be all right. We were up a lot so there was really no point to coming back [in the game],” said Barczykowski “Our line does a phenomenal job week-in-and-week-out. Our fullback did a great job. [QB] Brian Stoldt played great. Our offense was really clicking today.”
Alden will return to the Far West Regionals, After haunting losses the last two years, the Bulldogs (10-0) will play East Rochester/Gananda (9-1) next Saturday at 3 p.m. at All High Stadium in the regionals. EA/G beat Livonia, 48-34, in its sectional final on Saturday.
Alden put to rest any thoughts of a Springville upset early. The 7-0 lead Barczykowski gave them swelled to 14-0 the next time the Bulldogs touched the ball when Alex Darrow caught a short pass off his shoelaces and scampered in from 9 yards out.
If Springville wasn’t frustrated at that point, they certainly were after their 13-play drive was stopped on the 1-yard line early in the second quarter. Despite a big effort, Tyler Conklin was stopped for no gain after they went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
“The same thing that has happened all year, our offensive line has been very, very good up front,” said Diminuco. “Not to take anything away from their kids, but they’ve been terrific all year and we’ve been able to run the ball, and we even threw it a little today. Brian called a great game, put us in the right place quite a bit so we’re pretty happy.”
Alden added two more scores to take a 28-0 lead into the locker room. Wide receiver Matt Shields laid out to catch a 45-yard touchdown pass from Stoldt. Then Stoldt completed the first half scoring on a 4-yard run.
Alden scored on its first possession of the second half when Stoldt carried from 22 yards out on a bootleg, making it 35-0. Springville ended the shutout bid when Bill Dickinson scored on a 22-yard quarterback keeper.
Alden scored the only points of the fourth quarter after a strip by linebacker Darrow gave the Bulldogs possession on the Springville 13. Ryan Richards scored on an 8-yard run two plays later, then kicked his sixth extra point of the game.
A title would have been Springville’s first since 1996. The Griffins finished with a respectable 244 yards of offense and 15 first downs.
“We were able to move the ball, but when you get down by two scores it changes the psychology of the game,” said Springville coach John Sopko.
“I think if you look at the second half you can see the kind of kids that we have,” he added. “They know they’re playing for themselves, playing for a lot of people, I think their character is showing through. They stayed in the game, we moved the ball, we ended up with a score, and we felt we had an opportunity for two other scores. The underclassmen that we have, they certainly paid attention, there was a lesson learned here today here and they’re all ready to roll for next year.”