One coach loved the fact a yellow flag never hit the turf at West Seneca East Friday night. The other walked away annoyed.
"The one good thing about it is that maybe we'll get another chance against them in [three] weeks," said East coach Jim Maurino, following a tough 22-19 Class A South loss to Iroquois that clinched the division championship for the Chiefs.
Maurino was furious that a pass interference penalty wasn't called against a Chiefs defender on a fourth-and-7 throw from the Iroquois 25 in the final minute. The resulting incompletion ended East's last threat.
"We'd have had it down by the 5 and we felt like we were really moving it," said Maurino.
Of course, Iroquois coach Frank Payne had a different opinion.
"Both kids were making a play for the ball and their feet just tangled," said Payne, whose team is 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the division. "Everybody I talked to along the sidelines, the chain crew and all, said it was a great no-call in a big game like that. I give the officials a lot of credit."
Brandon Murie's 4-yard run with 7:56 remaining capped a 15-point fourth quarter for the Chiefs, who will most likely play Starpoint in the first round of the playoffs.
The most important play of the game might have been Calvin Sluberski's 83-yard kickoff return for a score that got the Chiefs within 13-7 just before halftime.
"That was huge," Payne said of Sluberski, who added the two-point conversion run following Murie's TD.
Joe Giardina carried 16 times for 75 yards and two scores for East, which wrapped up a home game in the first round of the playoffs in two weeks. Quarterback Andy Pangallo carried 14 times for 90 yards and a score. Linebacker Andy Breen made 11 tackles for East and defensive Ethan Murphy added nine.
"We were absolutely the better team," Maurino said. "We rushed for 273 yards on these guys, basically ran ball at will on them. We felt we had a chance to win at the end. Our kids played their hearts out."
Said Payne: "This group has got so much maturity. The composure they had at the end was great. This was one of the best high school games I've ever seen."