West Seneca East is a tough, physical and determined group that wears down football teams.
While folks in the 716 area code know that all too well, teams downstate will get to see those attributes up close and personal for the first time next weekend in Binghamton.
West Seneca East’s season to remember continues. It lives for another week thanks to a relentless defensive effort by the Trojans, who stifled Section V champion Irondequoit, 15-8, in the Class A Far West Regional contest Friday night.
A crowd of more than 1,500 braved the elements on a cold, rainy evening at Clarence High School. They watched West Seneca East’s defensive line take control and limit an Eagles offense led by reigning All-Greater Rochester Player of the Year Freddy June to just 16 passing yards. They watched the Trojans notch four sacks and record two takeaways – with the first setting up the winning touchdown early in the third quarter. They watched as East handed the Eagles (10-1) their only loss of the season.
With the victory, West Seneca East (10-1) advances to its first New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association semifinal. The Trojans face Section III champion Indian River next Friday at 8 p.m. at Union-Endicott High School.
“It feels great,” senior running back/linebacker Shaun Dolac said. “We survived another week. We have to come to battle next week.”
This marks the second straight season a West Seneca school has reached the Final Four, with East ending West Seneca West’s reign as state champion last weekend in the Section VI final.
“It’s crazy,” longtime Trojans coach Jim Maurino said. “It really shows what West Seneca football can do. I’m just really proud of our guys.”
Especially the defense, which gave up a total of 198 yards on 56 plays. The defense yielded just 55 yards during the second half.
The unit set the tone early in the third quarter when Dolac (10 tackles) stripped June at the Eagles’ 6 with Cam Cacciotti (six tackles) recovering the fumble. On the next play, Devare Mathis rammed his way into the end zone to break an 8-8 tie with 9 minutes, 19 seconds left.
Irondequoit threatened on its next possession, reaching the East 12. But a sack by Dylan McNulty (five tackles, 1.5 sacks) on a third-down play followed by a false start by Irondequoit effectively killed that drive. It ended with an incomplete pass on fourth-and-20 from the 27.
That was the second of two drives by Irondequoit that got inside the red zone only to be denied by the Trojans. Late in the second quarter, East forced an incomplete pass on a fake field goal after an Eagles drive stalled at the 6. That came after Mathis broke up a potential touchdown in the end zone with a nice defensive play on third down.
Irondequoit’s final two possessions ended with Zach Arnone notching an interception and McNulty and Mathis sacking June on a fourth-down play at East’s 48 with 2:32 left.
The Trojans’ ground and pound offense milked the rest of the clock with Dolac, who rushed for 137 yards on 31 carries, gaining 23 yards on his last three carries to end things.
“We’re physical, we hit and it shows up in the fourth quarter,” Maurino said. “Our secondary really showed up tonight, breaking up passes. Our D-line did what they did last week, they came through in the end, they got up field, they got to the QB. I think we kind of wore them out.”
A West Seneca East turnover provided the opening the Eagles needed to take the early lead. After Irondequoit corralled Dolac for a strip sack and recovered the ball at Trojans’ 26, it needed just three plays to score. June (22 carries, 64 yards) ran it in from the 1 and then ran in the conversion with 1:28 left in the first quarter.
West Seneca East responded on its next possession, marching 64 yards with the aid of two 15-yard infractions by the Eagles. Dolac tied it with an 11-yard run and then dove to have the ball break the plane of the goal line on the 2-point conversion.
Jadon Turner led the Eagles with 90 yards on 20 carries.