Mike Waterman made big plays on both sides of the ball Friday night to lead West Seneca East over Williamsville South, 35-14, in a Section VI Class A quarterfinal at District Field in Williamsville.
Waterman, a senior running back and linebacker, rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns, gained another 98 yards on three receptions, and intercepted two passes in the fourth quarter, including one that he returned for a touchdown.
“Big players play in big games, and that’s what he did,” Trojans coach Jim Maurino said. “He’s a leader and he showed the kids the way.”
Waterman credited his linemen for his rushing performance and the game plan for his defensive plays.
“Our senior linemen knew exactly what we were doing all week,” Waterman said. “We practiced all of their plays all week and we weren’t surprised by anything. We knew what was coming.”
West Seneca East (7-1), the News’ No. 7 Large School, did not beat any playoff teams during the regular season, but proved its postseason credentials with a resounding road win in a rematch of last year’s Class A semifinal.
“I felt we had a pretty good team all year,” Maurino said. “Everybody has been asking me since Dick Gallagher’s banquet, ‘What are you going to do now coach?’ And every week I posed that question to the kids. ‘What are you going to do now?’ No one believed this team could come back and have another good season with only one loss.”
West Seneca East will meet the winner of today’s quarterfinal between top-seeded Sweet Home and No. 8 seed Kenmore East next Saturday in the Class A semifinals. Sweet Home defeated West Seneca East in last year’s Class A final.
“Last year we learned a lot and our coaches are going to prepare us well,” Waterman said.
The Trojans made five interceptions in the second half and totaled 246 rushing yards on the night. Tyler Skretny and Devin Lindner also had rushing touchdowns.
Sam Castronova threw a touchdown pass to Kevin Mason and ran for another one for the Billies (4-4), who lost to their former A South division rivals for the third time in two years.
West Seneca East put the game away with two touchdowns in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
Waterman returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown and Justin Simoncelli ran in the two-point conversion to make it a three-touchdown game with 8:42 left to play.
Skretny plunged in from six yards out after Waterman dashed for 42 yards on consecutive counter runs to put the Trojans in front 27-14 just a minute earlier.
Sam Crabtree intercepted a long pass at the goal line and Brandon Day picked one off near midfield as West Seneca East protected its lead during a scoreless third quarter.
Waterman gave West Seneca East a 21-14 lead heading into halftime, gaining 35 yards on a short pass from Lindner, then scoring from six yards out on a counter run with 53 seconds left in the quarter.
Castronova hit Kam Varner on a 23-yard pass to the goal line and dived in for a touchdown two plays later to tie the game at 14 with 3:14 remaining in the half.
The Trojans took a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter when Waterman picked up 45 yards on a reception and then found the end zone on a 35-yard run.
Lindner scored on a quarterback sneak to tie the game at 7 early in the second quarter.
Williamsville South opened the scoring five minutes into the game on Mason’s 54-yard catch and run.