Weekly Feature



2017-11-09 / Sports

West gridders earn program’s first sectional title

Karmazyn pick-six helps clinch 27-24 victory over South Park
JASON NADOLINSKI
Sports Reporter


Josh Karmazyn breaks towards the end zone after snagging an interception that he returned 76 yards for a touchdown that helped seal the 27-24 victory for West Seneca West in the Section VI Class A title game at New Era Field. 
Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Josh Karmazyn breaks towards the end zone after snagging an interception that he returned 76 yards for a touchdown that helped seal the 27-24 victory for West Seneca West in the Section VI Class A title game at New Era Field. Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com West Seneca West’s first appearance at New Era Field in program history proved to be well worth the wait, as the Indians rallied from an 18-6 deficit early in the third quarter of Saturday’s Federation Class A championship game to pull out a 27-24 victory over South Park in a battle of undefeated teams.

The Sparks — and Dayquan Anderson in particular — didn’t exactly make it easy for the Indians. But, in the end, West was able to shake off Anderson’s efforts to start the third quarter and flip the script in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter to send the Sparks reeling and secure the Indians’ first trip to the Far West Regionals.

“It was a great moment and just a great night for our fans, all our kids’ families and all the alumni across the country who have been following our season,” coach Mike Vastola said. “I was just real proud of our kids and staff. It was just a surreal moment and one we probably won’t fully appreciate until it’s long over because we were right back into it preparing for the next round.”

Anderson helped put some distance between South Park and West early in the third quarter, breaking a 6-6 halftime tie with a 22-yard fumble return just 45 seconds into the frame before snagging an interception on the very next play — and nearly returning it to the house — to set up an 8-yard scoring strike on fourth down in which Anderson wrangled the ball away from Juston Johnson to bump the Sparks’ lead up to 18-6.

“South Park is just an opportunistic team, and when we made a few more mistakes than we would’ve liked to, they were happy to take advantage,” Vastola said. “It’s how they made their living this year. We made them earn a lot of what they got, though. When they went up two scores, the feeling was that this isn’t how we normally act and react, but things will still be OK because there was a lot of time on the clock to figure things out and do right by us.”


Running back Bryan Ball, middle, looks for running room against South Park during the Indians’ run to their first-ever Section VI championship in program history. 
Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Running back Bryan Ball, middle, looks for running room against South Park during the Indians’ run to their first-ever Section VI championship in program history. Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Rather than get caught up in falling behind by a couple of scores, the Indians — led by quarterback Matt Myers — responded quickly, with Myers hitting Jesse Broad on a 46-yard strike down to South Park’s 14-yard line. Two plays later, Myers called his own number from four yards out to trim the Sparks’ lead down to 18-13.

After forcing South Park to turn the ball over on its ensuing possession, West constructed a 10-play, 65-yard drive that included a fourth-and-two conversion and was capped by a 4-yard pass from Myers to Kyle Haettich that gave the Indians their second lead of the night, 20-18. Anderson looked to be up to his earlier tricks on the ensuing play, helping South Park open its drive with a big catch down field, but two plays later Josh Karmazyn jumped the route and intercepted Dabeyon Humphrey’s heave and returned it 76 yards for what would prove to be the game-clinching score with 8:10 to play in regulation.

“We knew it would be jump balls from them, and it seemed like they were trying to pick on Josh because he’s shorter,” Vastola said. “Most of their big plays were runs by their quarterback after we lost our rush lanes, so we just had to try to contain them a bit more in the second half. Josh had a nice long hook route that he got the jump on, and Liam Scheuer — working from the opposite side of the field — got out in front and destroyed their last guy left to help Josh finish off that return. Having just taken the lead before that return, that really was the nail in their coffin. It put us thoroughly in charge, which you could tell from their reaction on the kickoff afterwards; they didn’t even have 11 guys on the field for it.

“At that point, we knew it was our game, and that’s the position we’re used to playing in.”

Neither team had any luck scoring again until there were just 18 seconds left on the clock, which is when Anderson hauled in a 3-yard pass. It was too little, too late for the Sparks, however, as West — which had a huge goal-line stand just a couple of minutes earlier that was capped by a defended fourth-down pass by Johnson and Haettich — was able to persevere.

“We knew we were in control and you could just tell by some of their body language that we got to them late in the game,” Vastola said. “That’s one of our goals every game, to make the other team quit. You could tell some of their guys were down for sure.”

South Park’s lack of energy in the closing minutes was a complete reversal from the start of the second half. The Sparks received a boost just before the break when they answered John Speyer’s 1-yard run with an 82-yard kickoff return on the very next play to knot the score at 6-6 with 3:50 to play in the second quarter. The Sparks could’ve had even more momentum heading into the break had a big touchdown not been called back with under two minutes to go in the opening half.

“We weren’t down on ourselves after the kickoff return,” Vastola said. “Our message at the half was that everything was still within our control. We started to work at them bit by bit in the second half, and you could feel the sideline energy shift into more of ‘OK, let’s start playing some football’ the more success we continued to have in the second half. It’s just that against a good defense like South Park’s, it can take a while to get going. And even if you do find something that works, if you don’t execute properly — if you throw the ball high or drop the ball, or if one guys misses a block — you’ll have nothing to show for it. So, it just came down to us executing better.”

Myers finished the game 15-of-23 for 147 yards to go along with a team-high 68 yards on 13 carries. Speyer added 13 yards on five carries, while Bryan Ball chipped in with 10 yards on six carries. Broad led the receiving efforts with 70 yards on five catches, while Haettich added 49 yards on five catches. Johnson added 27 yards on four catches.

Defensively, three of Ball’s 11 total tackles (three solo) went for losses, as did three of Scheuer’s nine total tackles. Scheuer also had three sacks, while Mike Glinski (12 total tackles), Vinny Draper (9 total tackles) and Josh Wilson (6 total tackles) each added a sack as well. Haettich also had a forced fumble for West (10-0), which will travel to Brockport State College Friday to take on Section V champion Wilson Magnet in the Class A Far West Regional at 8 p.m. Tickets will cost $8 at the gate, as there are no presale tickets for this round.

Neither team had won a sectional title prior to this season, so both are sure to put their best effort forward with a first-ever trip to the state semifinals on the line.

“We’ve got a couple games’ worth of film on them, and it looks like they’ve got some good running backs and they’re real big up front,” Vastola said. “We feel confident that we’ve found some things we’d like to exploit, though. Right now it’s all bonus time, so we’re going to make the best of it. We’ve just got to be good at being us and controlling what we can control. We have our identity that we want to live up to, and if we can do that and dictate to them the pace of the game, we should be good.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Return to top