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High school football: St. Francis overcomes 21-0 hole against Walsh

The outlook was dour for St. Francis in the second quarter once the Red Raiders went down 21-0 to Ohio-based Walsh Jesuit.

But St. Francis coach Jerry Smith pulled out an old cliche, turning the team’s focus to winning one play at a time and avoiding costly mistakes.

“We were talking about not shooting ourselves in the foot like we had in the first two games,” Smith said.

The players responded, as the Red Raiders outscored the Warriors 42-19 the rest of the way to earn a 42-40 victory against the Warriors.

“This time the kids didn’t doubt each other,” Smith said. “They actually pulled together and refused to let the mistakes dominate them.”

Sophomore quarterback Jake Ritts was a big factor in the comeback, as he threw three touchdown passes and ran for another to knot the game up at 28. Smith was particularly complimentary of his young signal caller’s work on third down.

St. Francis claimed a 42-34 lead in the fourth with 2:15 remaining thanks to a 13-yard slant from Ritts to Dom Brown, but Walsh responded less than a minute later with a 31-yard touchdown pass.

Thankfully for the Red Raiders, they deflected the two-point conversion attempt and recovered the onside kick, allowing them to run out the clock for their first victory of the season.

Ritts finished with 166 yards and four touchdowns through the air in addition to 34 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Smith said a game like this is perfect for his team’s confidence going into Monsignor Martin play. The Red Raiders host Cardinal O’Hara next Friday in the school’s homecoming game.

“You couldn’t ask for a better game. It was a great effort by everybody involved,” Smith said. “This is what high school football is all about.”

Class A

West Seneca West 34, Frontier 0: The Indians winning streak extended to 18 games with a blowout victory against the winless Falcons.

The streak hasn’t been tested at all this season, as West Seneca West has outscored opponents 124-8 through three weeks.

Juston Johnson caught six passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Maurice Robertson, a Sweet Home transfer, started at quarterback and threw for 254 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

Starpoint 55, Maritime/Health Sciences 30: Spartans quarterback Aaron Chase threw for five touchdowns, with three going to wideout Max Bowen. Chase’s longest scoring play of the night came late in the first quarter, a 65-yard pass to Matt Spina.

Maritime/Health Sciences, in its first year of play, is still looking for the program’s first win.

Kenmore East 38, North Tonawanda 21: Bulldogs running back Danzo Young rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns as Kenmore East earned its first victory of the season. He closed out the contest with a pair of long scoring runs of 54 and 39 yards, respectively.

Class B

Lake Shore 6, East Aurora/Holland 2: Coach Dan Russell, famous for his work as a weatherman on Spectrum News, earned the first victory of his career in a defensive battle.

Lake Shore had eight tackles for loss, three sacks and an interception and didn’t allow a point until a late safety.

Pioneer 28, Maryvale 20: Mike Rigerman was a workhorse for the Panthers, running for 252 yards and three touchdowns on 41 carries.

His final score was the game-winning touchdown, a 4-yard run with 2:05 remaining in regulation. Defensively, Rigerman forced a fumble and earned six tackles.

Rashad Law had all three scores for Maryvale, boasting impressive scoring runs of 85 and 70 yards each.

Olean 42, Springville 14: Alex Weakfall had rushing scores of 58 yards, 53 yards and 63 yards as well as an 80-yard kickoff return for the Huskies.

Overall, he ran for 201 yards on 14 carries. Icar Simon also enjoyed success on the ground for Olean, rushing for 88 yards in addition to his seven-tackle performance on the defensive side of the ball.

Class C

Cleveland Hill 54, Gowanda/Pine Valley 26: The Golden Eagles ended the Bears’ unbeaten season and claimed first place in Class C North. Ryan Gernatt ran for 74 yards and two touchdowns for Gowanda, while Damone Mcleod caught six passes for 70 yards and a score.

Southwestern 49, Portville 7: Wide receiver Alex Card pushed past the 1,000-yard mark in his varsity career as the Trojans moved to 3-0.

Backup quarterback Aiden Kennedy entered the game in the third quarter and threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Chuck Bailey on his first varsity throw.

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