Who: Lancaster Legends (10-0) vs. Victor Blue Devils (10-0)
When: 3:15 p.m. Saturday
Where: New Era Field
Television: Time Warner Cable Sportsnet
Rankings: Lancaster is ranked No. 1 in the News’ Large School poll and fourth in the state. Victor is ranked No. 1 in the state.
Regional records: Lancaster is 0-1, losing its only appearance in 1999 to eventual state champion Webster. Victor is 2-1 in regionals. The Blue Devils lost in 2014 to Jamestown, 24-0. They posted wins in 2000 (over Pioneer, 22-12) and 2003 (over Grand Island, 31-28) while in Class A.
Coaches: Lancaster, Eric Rupp, first season (10-0); Geoff Mandile, sixth season (46-10)
Lancaster key players and statistics: Sr. RB Zach Samborski, 5-10/185 (177-1,128, 15 TDs; 13 catches, 200 yards, 1 TD), Jr. QB Ryan Mansell, 5-9/165 (100-151, 1,733, 21 TDs, 66.2 completion pct.), Sr. WR Leugim Castillo, 6-3/225 (34-745, 9 TDs), Jr. WR/K/DB Max Giordano, 6-0/165 (38-578, 9 TDs; 29 tackles, 6 INTs), Jr. LB Joe Andreessen, 5-11/190 (87 tackles, 7 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 2 INT), Jr. LB Ben Damiani, 6-1/210 (79 tackles, 10 TFL, 3 INTs).
Victor key players and statistics: Jr. WR/FS Andrew Russell, 6-/190 (17-306, 5 TDs; 42 rushes, 346 yards, 1 TD) Sr. WR/CB Mitch Spindler, 5-10/160 (155 rushes, 777 yards, 5 TDs), Sr. QB/FS Clay Bleier, 6-1/175 (44-71, 778, 12 TDs), Jr. TE/DE Mike Novitsky, 6-5/220 (11-163, 2 TDs; 43 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks), Sr. TE/DE Zack Estabrooks, 6-2/215 (37 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks).
How they got here: Lancaster won its first Section VI title since 1999 by defeating 2015 champion Orchard Park, 27-7. Max Giordano had three of the Legends four interceptions in the triumph as they turned those takeaways into 14 points. Giordano had a fine game, finishing with 187 return yards on those interceptions and catching four passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Ryan Mansell completed 12 of 18 passes for 154 yards and rushed once for a touchdown. Ben Damiani led the defense with 12 tackles, while Joe Andreessen made nine tackles and also picked off a pass.
Victor won its second Section V title in three years by defeating Pittsford, 23-7, for its 18th win in its last 20 games dating back to the 2014 regional. The Blue Devils gained all but 59 of their 391 yards on the ground. Andrew Russell rushed 10 times for 114 yards in the win, while Chris Varone had nine carries for 84.
Pre-snap read: The Legends may enter the clash as the underdogs on paper against a Victor team that has 13 Division I athletes (lacrosse recruits) on its roster, but anything can happen in the single-elimination tournament that is the postseason.
In order for Lancaster to advance to where it’s never gone before – the state semifinals – it must hold its own in the trenches against Victor’s beefy line and give running back Zach Samborski a chance to gash the Blue Devils’ defense. The Legends need to keep up their trend of scoring first.
The Legends also must go vertical a tad bit more than they did during last week’s win and let its Division I stud, big and fast receiver Leguim Castillo, make life difficult for Victor’s secondary. If the Devils roll coverage toward him, get it in Giordano’s reliable hands.
Blue Devils are mostly a ball-control team on offense who take a quarter or so to figure out an opponent’s weakness and then attacks it relentlessly. However, they seemed to catch Pittsford by surprise with some early throws on their first touchdown march of the game, so the Legends must be wary of that. They also must keep tabs of Russell, who proved to be effective runner as a quarterback out of the wildcat formation last week.