When it comes to turnovers, it is better to be on the receiving end as opposed to the giving end of those potential game-changing plays.
Starpoint proved that adage to be true once again and in the process let some of its potential rivals know that last year's Section VI runner-up does not plan on relinquishing its perch atop the Class A North any time soon.
The Spartans forced six turnovers, including five in the first half that led to 20 of their 28 first-half points, as they continued their flawless run within their division by routing host Kenmore West, 49-14, Saturday afternoon. Junior quarterback Aaron Chase threw for three touchdowns and a 189 yards, while Justin Mott made two interceptions and also scored for Starpoint (2-0, 2-0), which finished with four interceptions and recovered two fumbles.
The Spartans turned three turnovers into 20 points in the first quarter and never looked back in handling the Blue Devils (1-1, 0-1), the former Class AA member and 2015 sectional runner-up that dropped down into A North this season, before an estimated 2,000 at Crosby Field.
Josh Brooks had a solid all-around game on both sides of the ball (three receptions, 98 yards, two touchdowns, eight tackles), as his strip, sack and fumble recovery 50 seconds into the contest on a sunny, pleasant day opened the door for Starpoint, the two-time defending Class A North champion, to post its 15th straight division triumph.
"I think the first turnover gave us a lot of momentum and kind of sparked our game," said Brooks, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior end. "We just came out aggressive. We had a good week of practice and prepared for this."
"We practiced" stripping the ball "during the week and we've been talking about it all summer," Spartans coach Al Cavagnaro said. "Today we got the breaks."
Brooks' forced turnover led to Anthony Robinson's 10-yard touchdown run. Sam Mazzara picked off a pass later in the quarter at his 19 and returned it 33 yards to set up the drive that ended with him catching a 15-yard touchdown pass off a nice route and outside throw by Chase. About 90 seconds later, Griffin Mack's 45-yard pick-six made it 20-0 and had Starpoint feeling elated.
While turnovers tend to be deflating, that one didn't totally doom Ken West. It's was the next give away that knocked the wind out of the Blue Devils, signaling it just wasn't going to be their day.
Ken West appeared on the verge of scoring on a first-and-goal from the 3 early in the second quarter. But a run play went awry as Robinson, a senior who was an All-Western New York honorable mention pick at linebacker last year, stripped the ball carrier and recovered the fumble to end the threat.
"I saw he was running the ball, dropped the ball a little bit," said Robinson, who rushed for 155 yards on 19 carries. "I just punched it out and it was right there and fell on it. I wasn't thinking of running it back. Just getting the turnover was the main thing."
"We had the opportunity to switch some of the momentum and ended up turning it over on the 1-yard line," lamented Ken West coach John Haynes. "Can't overcome six turnovers. We made a lot of mental mistakes. I can handle the physical mistakes but mentally we were not there."
Starpoint didn't score again until near the end of the half, a 5-yard run by Mott.
Ken West had a last gasp at putting up some points in the final seconds of the second quarter after Joseph Stewart reached up to snag a pass from Andrew Fron for a 25-yard gain to the Spartans' 30. But on the final play of half, Fron was hit as he threw and Mott made the interception.
"We said we needed to make a statement game today," Cavagnaro said. "There were (Class A) teams that made statements yesterday. That's what coach Tim Racey said, it was our turn to make a statement today."
Five takeaways, a 28-point halftime lead. A total of 473 yards in offense for the game.
Next up for the Spartans is a Friday night division game at North Tonawanda .
Meanwhile Ken West visits Sweet Home (2-0), which heads into its home opener fresh off Friday night's triumph over top-ranked Buffalo News small school Cheektowaga.