Its sports history includes such greats as Bob Lanier, Don Gilbert, Curtis Aiken, Lamar Smith and Ethel Marshall, among others. Now the football teams of coach Steve McDuffie have rekindled pride the Bennett High family feels for its athletic legacy.
The Tigers (6-2, 6-1 Class AA), ranked fifth in the last WNY large schools poll, cemented the No. 1 seed in the Section VI Federation Class AA playoffs Saturday with a 30-14 triumph at Niagara Falls (1-7, 1-6 Class AA).
Bennett has now finished first in regular season play in four of the last five years, in four different classifications.
It started with winning Class B North in 2014, then Class C North in 2015, Class A South in 2016 and this year Class AA.
"We’ve reached elite status," McDuffie said proudly after Saturday’s victory over the Wolverines. "We have been able to compete on every level and we’ve been able to prevail.
"A lot of people have been responsible, our principal (Carlos) Alvarez, along with the coaching staff and the players. I’m really proud of them."
Saturday’s victory and Lancaster’s win over Orchard Park on Friday night gave Bennett the top spot in the Class AA league, with the only losses to St. Joe’s in a nonleague game to open the schedule and a one-point league loss at home to Orchard Park (23-22). Bennett will meet Orchard Park in a Class AA quarterfinal on Friday night at All High Stadium.
A 3-yard run by junior D'Jae Perry was the only scoring in the first half, giving Bennett a 6-0 lead. Perry made it 12-0 with a 5-yard run in the third quarter and scored again on a 29-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Junior quarterback Aaron Smith passed for two touchdowns, one to junior Malik Meadows for 20 yards and the other to junior Justin Campbell for 32.
Senior back Semaj Clemons ran for 100 yards on nine carries. The defense was led junior defensive lineman Nashon Oliver who had seven tackles, three sacks.
Williamsville North 35, Hutch-Tech 34: Dylan Mann ran for three touchdowns and Grant Richards for two for the Spartans but it was five extra points kicked by sophomore Max Obie that produced the victory. The Engineers fell behind 14-0, but rallied to take a 20-14 lead in the third quarter. North came right back with touchdowns by Mann and Richards. An 8-yard run by Richards in the fourth quarter gave the Spartans the lead for good.
Clarence 61, Lockport 34: Zachary Norton ran for four touchdowns and John Stevens rushed for three and scored seven points after both kicking and running to lead the Red Devils in the wild-scoring affair.
Nick Cascia passed for three Lockport scores including two to standout receiver Malik Brooks, who has 11 TD catches this season and leads Lockport in tackles.
Lockport lost its last five games despite averaging 33.3 per game.
Class C Quarterfinal
Cleveland Hill 32, Chautauqua Lake 6: Aaron Wahler ran for three touchdowns and caught a 55-yard pass from Javon Thomas for another in the Golden Eagles victory.
Wahler, a 5-11, 235-pound senior who has scored 13 touchdowns inhis last four games, carried 13 times for 207 yards. Thomas carried 14 times for 101 yards, intercepted a pass and also ran for four two-point conversions as Cleve Hill advanced to facet Randolph/Frewsburg next weekend.
St. Joe’s 42, Chaminade (Ont.) 0: Micah Brown passed for four touchdowns, all to Sam Kline in the Marauders’ victory over the visitors from Toronto. All four of Kline’s receptions (for 84 yards) went for touchdowns. Brown completed 6 of 9 for 101 yards. The Marauders held Chaminade to 59 yards total offense.
Story topics: high school football