It's never too early to make a statement during the football season.
West Seneca West did just that Friday night in taking a showdown between ranked Buffalo News large schools.
Matt Myers made plays with his arm and legs, accounting for four touchdowns, while the Indians' defense did more than enough to rock a talented, but young McKinley team as West enjoyed the bus ride home from Black Rock with a 35-13 victory.
"It's the biggest win for us in a long time," West coach Mike Vastola said. "They're a good team. We just played better today."
"We just played phenomenally," said Myers, who completed 10 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown and rushed for scores of 2, 25, and 1 yard. "I'm just so proud of our team, lineman, our defense, receivers. Coaching got us prepared all week for it. It was just a great overall team win."
Leading up to the huge Class A South contest at Riverside High School's Dingboom Field, Vastola said West would find out what kind of team it has once the night was finished.
The Indians (2-0, 2-0) learned they not only have the potential to end their lengthy postseason drought but also have the makings to perhaps do something special should they continue to put in the work and build on each solid performance as the season progresses.
"We learned we can play with anybody," Vastola said. "We challenged them to play a full 48 minutes ... and I think we did that today.
An estimated 1,500 watched the seventh-ranked Indians bolt to a 21-point lead and never look back against a third-ranked McKinley team coming off a statement triumph of its own last week at Western New York power Orchard Park -- the first meeting between the teams. The Macks did that behind a 313-yard rushing effort from junior Kaiyer Fields.
He's a strong, fast, man-among-boys kind of running back and looked the part Friday as one of his best runs of the night didn't even count -- a big gainer in which he broke four tackles behind the line that eneded up being negated due to a penalty.
Though Fields (24 carries, 149 yards) did break off two long tackle-breaking scoring runs in the second half to boost the Macks' spirit, the West defense led by defensive ends Liam Scheuer and Josh Wilson shut down the run for the most part. The Indians limited their foe to 225 yards in total offense, including 182 rushing, and made three interceptions. Excluding sacks, West's defense held the Macks' ball carriers to 10 rushing plays that lost yardage and four that just reached the line of scrimmage.
"He's a heck of a running back," said Scheuer, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, about Fields. "You have to get hats to the ball because he's not going down the first time. We knew they were going to bring it real hard but we had to step to the table and you know fight back. We just came out with a lot of intensity. It was a good game."
"Film study shows a lot and we counted on our ends this week," Vastola said. "Liam and Wilson played one heck of a game."
West's defense limited McKinley to 68 yards in the first half and intercepted two passes en route to taking a 14-0 lead into intermission.
The Indians surged ahead in the latter stages of the first quarter as a quick swing pass from Myers to Juston Johnson turned into a 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown once Johnson (five catches, 134 yards) avoided one tackle and turned on the jets to motor away from the rest of the defense with under 5 minutes left. The lead grew a few minutes later when Myers scored from the 2. Josh Karmazyn's 42-yard interception return set up the score.
The Macks defense did enough after that to prevent West from building on that lead, holding them to 99 first-half yards, and give themselves a chance for a rally.
The Macks' defense put West in a couple tough down and distance situations during its opening drive of the third quarter. Each time Myers – the University at Buffalo commit – made the throws to get his team out of trouble. The first was a perfectly thrown 36-yard pass down the left sideline against one-on-one coverage to Kyle Haettich on third-and-11 from the 9. Later in the drive -- after a sack and loss of 8 yards, Myers hooked up with Johnson on a 13-yard play to set up third-and-5 from the 25. Myers scored on the next play, ducking and breaking a couple of tackles to make it 21-0.
"That was a big drive," Myers said. "We knew we could put them away if we scored one more. It was just an unreal drive and it really saved us."
Fields scored on a 46-yard run to give the McKinley faithful reason to hope 13 seconds later.
Jesse Broad scored on a 5-yard run on West's next drive to make it 28-7. The lead grew to after Mike Glinski's interception set up a short 31-yard scoring drive Myers capped with a 1-yard run with 1:13 left.
Fields scored again with 11 seconds left in the period this time on a 66-yard run to make it 35-13.
That's as close as McKinley (1-1) got, as a young team with just three returning starters from last year showed signs of its youth. The Macks also showed they should have better days.
So too should the Indians.
"We left a lot of plays on the field," said Vastola, as receivers dropped four catchable passes. "Guys will come back ready to work. ... Expectations are high and they're believing in themselves."