South Park's defense did its thing once again, but this week so too did its offense.
Put the two together, and another Buffalo Public Schools football program has earned a shot at a Section VI championship.
The Sparks' defense made life difficult for West Seneca East, while their offense hit its stride during a 20-point second half as the Sparks advanced to the Class A final with a 36-6 triumph Friday night.
An estimated 2,000 at All High Stadium watched South Park advance to its third championship game in four years as it forced four turnovers -- including a tiebreaking pick six in the second quarter, blocked a punt and got huge second-half efforts from quarterback Deabeyon Humphrey and running back Latrell London.
The Sparks will face fellow unbeaten and fellow Class A South co-champion West Seneca West for the championship at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at New Era Field.
This is the fourth straight year a Buffalo Public Schools program will be part of Championship Week at the home of the Buffalo Bills.
Last year, Bennett won the Class A title.
Defense, defense: It’s fitting that the defense accounted for the scoring in the first half since the 'D' for each team had its respective shining moments.
Just as West Seneca East seemed as if it was going to draw first blood or at least pin the Sparks in their half of the field, a fourth-and-8 play went awry for the Trojans. Donte Ridgeway stepped in front of Jacob Maurino and picked off a swing pass from Shaun Dolac and raced untouched to the house on the 70-yard pick six with 5 minutes, 58 seconds left in the second quarter.
That was the first of two takeaways by South Park in the half. The second came on the East's next possession two plays after a 30-yard gain on a hook and ladder. A bad handoff was recovered by the Sparks' Justin Johnson.
Player of the game: Ridgeway for his pick six, a play he read. He also recovered a blocked punt.
Turning point II: While the defensive score swung momentum in the Sparks favor, the second half kickoff qualifies as the next biggest moment. West Seneca East kicked its first two attempts out of bounds resulting in a pair of 5-yard penalties. When the Trojans squib kicked it up the middle on their third attempt, Jaysen Armstead returned it to East's 38.
Third-quarter strikes: South Park pounced on the opportunity to add to its lead after a great drive start to open the period. The possession ended with Clarence Thomas catching a 23-yard touchdown from Humphrey.
South Park scored on its first three possessions of the second half as Dayquan Anderson caught a 25-yard TD, leaping in the air between two defenders to come down with the ball in the end zone. London scored the first of his two TDs to cap the Sparks' next drive, scoring on a 13-yard run.
London's 55-yard TD run with 3:18 left sealed the scoring burst.
Costly celebration: London celebrated a little early, holding the ball up in the air just before crossing the goal line on his last TD which was basically a cherry on top of the sundae type of score for a team that had punched its ticket to the title game. However, a flag put a damper on the jubilation on the field as London got whistled for taunting. That was his second such penalty in the game, which meant he received an ejection and automatic one-game suspension. He won't be allowed to play in the final.
Halftime stats: West Seneca East out gained the Sparks 127-109.
Renewing pleasantries: Class A South rivals South Park and West Seneca East are no strangers to each other.
In the regular season meeting between the teams, East bolted to a 21-0 lead before South Park stormed back to take a 36-21 decision back in Week Six at West Seneca East.
In the last five meetings heading into Friday, the Sparks held a 3-2 edge in the series. WSE won the lone meeting in 2014. South Park beat the Trojans twice in 2015, including their meeting in the Section VI final. Last year, WSE took a 17-14 decision from the Sparks at All High Stadium.
Records: South Park is 8-0, West Seneca East 5-4.
Next: For the Sparks, the Section VI Class A final against fellow unbeaten West Seneca West.