Friday night's victory for Depew wasn't just about this year's team. It was about last year's, too.
Exactly a year after Lackawanna won at favored Depew in the opening round of the playoffs, the Wildcats used an impressive run game early and tough defensive play all night to beat the Steelers, 14-0, in the Class B quarterfinals.
"It's awesome to get payback for the seniors from last year, and it's awesome for us," said Depew senior lineman Jaden Cotten. "We've been working since January and it's great to be moving on to the next round. We have high hopes."
Last season, Lackawanna won at Depew's Constantino Complex, 12-6, on its way to the Section VI Class B final.
"Last year was kind of a heartbreaker to us because we had a good feeling going into the playoffs undefeated," said senior Joe Miller. "The win is a little bit for the seniors from last year -- we tried to get it back for them. It was a hard-hitting game. We had to fight for everything we got."
On Friday, an estimated 1,000 watched Depew run for two first-quarter touchdowns for a lead it would hold all night. Miller had a 6-yard score during his 13-carry, 85-yard night while freshman Rodney Turner scored on a 15-yard run as part of his seven-carry, 34-yard evening.
The Wildcats (7-1), ranked second among small schools but seeded fourth in Class B by virtue of its second-place finish in B East, will head to top-seeded, fifth-ranked and B West champion Cheektowaga (7-1) in next week's semifinals. Depew beat visiting Cheektowaga, 41-19, in Week One.
Depew recorded three interceptions, including one by Miller in the fourth quarter that he picked off at the 2 and ran out 35 yards. The Wildcats gave the ball back to No. 7 small school Lackawanna (6-2) on a fumble, but they stopped the Steelers on downs and ran out the clock.
Sophomore Derrick Sekuterski and senior Mike Cartwright also had interceptions for Depew. Senior Drew Boyle had two sacks and senior Chris Twaragowski had one sack. Senior defensive lineman Andrew Burgio had an all-over-the-field night, particularly early on, during an 11-tackle performance. Seniors Bryan Sokolofsky and Matt Frankowski each had seven tackles.
"Our defense played tremendously," said Cotton, a 6-6, 331-pounder who has committed to the University at Buffalo and is joined inside by the 6-2, 292-pound Burgio. "Our ends, corners, safeties, linebackers played outstanding -- and when they had to run up the middle, they couldn't because our interior lineman were too strong."
While Depew kept coming up with stops, its running game kept the ball -- and the clock -- moving. The Wildcats ran for 184 yards and only attempted two passes.
On the Web
For video interviews from Depew's win and a play-by-play account, go to Prep Talk Live at buffalonews.com.