It may be a new season, but Southwestern is still playing football like the Trojans of old.
They were in Lancaster on Saturday, putting a 31-14 hurt on St. Mary's before an estimated 800 in what was the first meeting between the schools. The effect of the loss will be long-reaching for St. Mary's as a pair of two-way starters were lost to leg injuries. The St. Mary's trainer was one of the day's busiest people, running on and off Mike Bottomley Field.
"When you watch film you can't gauge how physical a team is," said Southwestern coach Jay Sirianni. "They're big up front, man they're huge. I was just hoping we were going to be a little bit physical and we were."
The Trojans (3-0), led by linemen Pat Langworthy and Jasen Carlson, quickly put their coach's concerns to rest. Not only did Southwestern win the battle in the trenches, but skill players like quarterback Zack Sopak kept the scoreboard operator busy.
Sopak rushed for one touchdown and threw for another as the Trojans looked the part of the No. 1-ranked team in the New York State Sportswriters' Class C poll. Showing keen pocket awareness, Sopak was 8 of 14 passing for 205 yards and added 89 yards rushing. Southwestern, winners of last year's state title in Class C, extended its winning streak to 19 in a row.
"They were loading up the strong side, so we just went weak side behind Jasen and Pat and we were just able to run the ball all day," said Sopak. "St. Mary's blitzed a lot so our line did a very good job, and we just need our backs to step it up a little bit."
Southwestern took advantage of a mental mistake when St. Mary's didn't field the opening kickoff. The Trojans fell on the ball, and four plays later John Mistretta scored on a 1-yard run. Sopak gave his team a 14-0 lead at halftime when he hooked up with wide receiver Tanner Delahoy on a 27-yard pass.
In a key series for the Trojans, they scored on the opening drive of the third quarter on Sopak's 35-yard run for a 21-0 bulge. St. Mary's showed signs of life when it answered on the next possession as Cody Kelso broke loose for a 47-yard run to climb within 21-7.
Levi Bursch made it 28-7 when he broke several tackles during a 45-yard TD run. He also caught four passes for 123 yards. Cody Fuller's 30-yard field goal in the fourth quarter made it 31-7. With 4:24 left in the game, Justin Burke broke down the sideline on a 90-yard run for the Lancers.
"The thing that I was disappointed with is that we didn't really establish anything," said St. Mary's coach John Kling. "In the second half we started running the ball a little bit and threw the tight end in the game and widened them out a little bit and we popped Cody, but that was the thing. It didn't seem like we were able to get into a groove."
Southwestern linebacker Ryan Buzzetto was in on 10 tackles and recovered a fumble. The defense held St. Mary's to just one first down in the first half.
St. Mary's (1-2) played without its leading rusher Anthony Chiarmonte, who was nursing a deep thigh bruise.