Another Legendary triumph; Lancaster repeats as Class AA football champions - The Buffalo News

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Another Legendary triumph; Lancaster repeats as Class AA football champions

The clash between unbeaten regular-season Class AA Division football champions ended the same way all of Lancaster games have this year: With the Legends earning a convincing victory.

The difference with Friday night's win from all of their other triumphs was the trophy presentation that followed their performance.

Lancaster's season officially became one to remember – again.

The Legends earned the right to pose for photos, pass around the champion's plaque and holler loudly while waving the school's red flag at midfield after crushing Williamsville North, 35-6, in the Section VI Class AA final at New Era Field.

Versatile standout Joe Andreessen did the usual – played some linebacker, offensive tackle and quarterback – and did all of that extremely well in being an impact player for the Legends. Ryan Mansell guided an offense that broke a school record for points in a season (460) while he too achieved some history in breaking the Lancaster mark for career passing yards.

The Legends' starting defense once again proved to be stingy as the unit held North to just 4 first-half yards. The Legends limited their foe to fewer yards (41) than plays (42) in winning their second straight sectional title -- marking the first time in the 98-year history of the program Lancaster has achieved the championship repeat.

How sweet it is.

"It's just amazing to do something that's never been done at Lancaster," said Mansell, who completed 16-of-24 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown.

"It's incredible," added second-year Legends coach Eric Rupp. "To go 20-0 (against Section VI competition) the last two years and back to back sectional championships, all the credit goes to the kids. They've bought into the culture we've been preaching. My assistant coaches are amazing."

Lancaster (10-0) will face the Section V champion, either Pittsford or Aquinas, at 6 p.m. next Saturday at Eunice Kennedy Shriver Stadium at SUNY Brockport.

With more teams being in Class AA than games on the regular-season schedule, News No. 1 Large School Lancaster and No. 4 North didn't face each other until Friday's final.

The Legends, ranked second in the state, wasted little time pouncing on Spartans mistakes in building a 21-0 halftime lead.

Andreessen (nine tackles) scored on a pair of 1-yard runs as the wildcat quarterback near the goal line – the last on the final play of the half where he bowled over a defender between him and the goal line. He also bought some time for Mansell to make plays in the passing game while lined up where players who wear No. 62 traditionally line up. While at linebacker contributed to a defense that made life for the Spartans' offense beyond difficult.

"Joe in my opinion is the best two-way player in Western New York," Rupp said.

After Lancaster failed to score on its opening possession, it didn't have to wait too long to get the ball back. Bryce Benham picked off an overthrown pass at North's 41. Nine plays later, Mansell threw a perfect 10-yard slant pass to Kyle Backert with 3:44 left in the first quarter.

A bad snap on a punt led to Lancaster sacking the punter at North's 3 on the Spartans' next drive. That set up a short 1-yard TD run by Andreessen.

Andrew Hersey rushed for touchdowns of 15 and 1 yard in the third quarter as he finished with 20 carries for 102 yards – breaking 1,000 for the season.

Mansell came in needing 94 yards to pass Dan Speyer's record of 3,650 career passing yards. Mansell amassed more than that by halftime.

"It's been amazing," Mansell said. "For the record that's the receivers. I'm just trying to get them the ball in space. That's my job. … That doesn't mean anything to me personally. To win back-to-back sectional championships speaks to itself and that's how I wanted to be remember as redefining Lancaster football."

The Legends starting defense once again didn't yield a touchdown as in addition to Andreessen, fellow senior linebacker Ben Damiani proved to be unstoppable – finishing with three sacks and eight tackles. Jacob Michalski had 10 tackles and a half a sack.

The starters were on the bench when North broke the shutout with 6:03 left on Jacob Orlando's 12-yard TD catch. That's the last time the Spartans had the ball.

Now it's on to regionals, the round where Lancaster has suffered its only loss in its last 21 games. It's a round the team has wanted to return to ever since losing by a touchdown to Victor last season.

"To get another chance at Section V was the ultimate goal," Mansell said.

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