The loss of senior quarterback Anthony Buono meant that senior running back Rodney Turner would be a marked man in Depew’s backfield during Friday night’s Class B South showdown at Springville.
It mattered not that the Griffins’ defense knew he was going to get the ball most of the time.
The 5-foot-8, 182-pound Turner and his massive offensive line carried the Wildcats early while reserve signal-caller Dylan Sekuterski got acclimated to his new surroundings as starter. Turner and his leading men then carried Depew late as the Wildcats repelled a Springville rally to take a 28-15 decision before an estimated 800 at Pop Warner Field.
In a physical and penalty-filled contest, News No. 2 small school Depew came out on top against last year’s Section VI Class B runner-up thanks to some fine work up front from linemen Mike Lamb, Dylan Grant, Josh Sugg, Austin Kozuch and Steve Kasprzak and tight end Nick Yelich.
They opened the holes for Turner, who rushed for a tough 153 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns. Sekuterski, a junior, rushed for TDs of 1 and 4 yards as the Wildcats improved to 3-0.
“Our offense is going to move as long as we’ve got the guys up front that we have and they do their parts,” Turner said. “Our line did pretty good today. I just had to bounce the ball, know what I could do and just take it in my hands at certain times.”
The Wildcats were at their best after Springville had pulled within 21-15 with 10:39 left on a 35-yard TD run by Nathan Wolcott and then a 1-yard keeper by backup quarterback Ethan Benz, who took the place of Devin White-Kearns after the junior suffered a knee injury while being sacked on the final play of the first half. Depew marched 61 yards on five plays with Turner rushing for 57 of those yards, including the final 4 to make it 28-15 with 7:44 left.
“We stood together, the line pushed, Rodney had some holes and we just moved the ball good,” said senior Derrick Sekuterski, Dylan’s older brother, who finished with 11 tackles and two sacks and a reception for 34 yards.
“I think we made some mistakes at the beginning of the game. I think our mistakes were self-inflicted,” Springville coach John Sopko said. “Great group of kids. I’m proud of their effort.”
Depew took advantage of mistakes by the Griffins on offense during the first half and turned the short field into three scores en route to a 21-0 halftime lead. A good number of those mistakes were forced by the Wildcats, who limited Springville to just 53 yards in the first half (101 for the game) – all of those yards coming on the final drive that stalled at the Depew 12.
After an interception by Springville’s Andrew Suffoletto ended the Wildcats’ first drive, they scored the next three times they had the ball.
Turner rushed for 46 of Depew’s 47 total yards on its first scoring drive late in the first quarter. A 25-yard run down the right side in which Nathan Wolcott seemingly made a TD-saving tackle was the key gain during the five-play drive capped by Sekuterski’s 1-yard keeper with 2:16 left.
Turner scored from the 1 on Depew’s next possession with 5:42 left in the half. Dylan Sekuterski then shouldered some of the load on the next scoring drive, hooking up with Derrick on a 34-yard completion on first down to the Springville 10. Four plays later, Dylan scored on a 4-yard bootleg around right end after a fake pitch to Turner.
“I saw a corner he could beat, just dropped back and just tried to just get the ball to him,” said Dylan on the completion to Derrick. “We had a great team win. We lost our composure for a little bit. … We wound up coming back together and finishing strong.”
While Sekuterski’s final stat line wasn’t too impressive (3 for 6, 53 yards passing; two rushing TDs), coach Brian Wilson was more than pleased with the quarterback’s effort, as were his teammates.
“He did amazing. He came in and stepped up,” Turner said. “He had big shoes to fill and he did good.”
Yelich also had 11 tackles, while Turner added seven as Depew hopes to carry the momentum into next week’s clash with defending Section VI Class B champion Alden (3-0).
“We’re going to be ready,” Turner said. “We want to come out on top. In order to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.”