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The seeds for the most dominant big-game performance in Western New York high school football history were sown this week on an Elma practice field.

Iroquois tailback Steve Mamak, who had rushed for 1,495 yards and 14 touchdowns this season, was going to see limited duty in the Far West Regionals due to an ankle problem. The Chiefs needed to find a replacement. Fast.

There were several candidates but senior Andy Wolffe -- all 5-feet-7 and 140 pounds of him -- started running through holes into daylight early in the week and never stopped on game day.

In a mind-boggling display, Wolffe rushed for 271 yards and scored a state playoff-record seven touchdowns Saturday night as the Chiefs smashed Eastridge, 67-48, in the Class A regional in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

A crowd of about 2,000 saw Wolffe amass 445 all-purpose yards. The breakdown: 20 carries for 271 yards, two kickoff returns for 75, an interception return for 50 and two punt returns for 49.

"It really was amazing," said Iroquois coach Frank Payne. "Andy stepped up big-time. He started breaking big runs in practice and I said, 'We might have something here.' "

Wolffe's touchdown runs, in order, went for 22, 57, 59, 11, 32 and 24 yards. For good measure, he scored the last of Iroquois' 10 TDs by fielding a line-drive punt on the dead run and returning it 34 yards down the left sideline with 9:12 remaining.

And get this: Wolffe is largely used as a flanker and had just nine carries all season.

"I had no idea I would be getting it," Wolffe said. "We had so many good backups.

"It was amazing."

Iroquois (9-2) advanced to Friday's state semifinals against Maine-Endwell (11-0) of Section IV at 7:30 p.m. in Syracuse's Carrier Dome by surviving the highest-scoring game ever played in The Ralph. The teams combined for 919 total yards (including a Regional-record 539 by Eastridge), and Iroquois also obliterated the stadium's team scoring mark of 51 set by Starpoint in the 1984 Section VI finals.

Wolffe went the distance virtually untouched on every score as the Chiefs' bruising offensive line of Chris Hutka, Dan Zagst, Luke Jesonowski, Brian Craig and 295-pound tackle Mike Pawelek opened gaping holes.

"It was the offensive line all the way," Wolffe said. "I guess I'm just a small, quick person."

Wolffe was stopped at the Eastridge 10-yard line on his interception return. Had he scored, he would have equaled the all-time Western New York touchdown record of eight -- last set by Lafayette's Homer Geoffrion in 1929.

"He's elusive and he's a little rabbit out there," Payne said. "It was overwhelming to watch. . . . It was a coach's dream to see the line block like they did and the kid run like he did. You can't simulate that ever. It was unbelievable."

The Chiefs played this game, of course, with the motivation of getting to the state final four. But it had much deeper meaning because Mark O'Brien, a 2001 Iroquois graduate, lost his right arm and leg in a rocket explosion Monday in Iraq. O'Brien was a former football and lacrosse player at the school. A red Iroquois jersey with the No. 23 worn by O'Brien was hung behind the Chiefs' bench facing the stands in tribute to him.

"He's an ultimate warrior, a true Marine," Payne said. "When he was a receiver for us, he'd come across the middle and get his head taken off by a safety and would get back up and do it again. We told the kids this week to remember it's a lot worse in other places."

Iroquois trailed, 14-13, early in the second quarter but took charge by scoring 27 points in a 10-minute span to lead at halftime, 40-20.

Eastridge pulled within 40-34 midway through the third quarter, but Wolffe ended the comeback on his 24-yard burst down the left sideline. That made it 46-34 and started a 27-point Iroquois avalanche in the next 5 1/2 minutes.

Wolffe now has more work to do next week. Or does he? Mamak might be ready to play.

"Mamak is a workhorse all year long and nobody can take over his spot," said a grinning Payne. "But I think Andy will get some carries also."

Said Wolffe: "This is something to remember, the best feeling ever."

State football tournament records
Most touchdowns rushing
7 -- Andy Wolffe, Iroquois (VI) 2004
5 -- Mark Rundell, Springville (VI) 1996
5 -- Sam Maldonado, Harrison (I) 1999
5 -- Mike Hart, Onondaga (III) 2001
5 -- Lee Bates, Shenendahowa (II) 2002
Most touchdowns total
7 -- Andy Wolffe, Iroquois (VI) 2004
6 -- Mike Hart, Onondaga (III) 2001
5 -- Keith Downing, Fairport (V) 1992
5 -- Mark Rundell, Springville (VI) 1996
5 -- Sam Maldonado, Harrison (I) 1999
5 -- Matt Berstein, Edgemont (I) 2000
Section in parentheses


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