ER-Gananda’s Tyler Chavez (32) cuts back on Wayne’s Cameron Laforce (11).
Sam Morabito took a look at the hundreds of people standing in the bleachers and leaning over the fence around Don Quinn Field.
It had been years since the former East Rochester assistant football coach seen that many people at the high school for a game.
Maybe the estimated 1,800 people who watched Wayne edge East Rochester 20-15 Friday night, came close to the crowd for the final Little Brown Jug game during the mid-1980s, according to Morabito.
Dennis Greco was glad to see it. The current East Rochester/Gananda varsity coach hoped that the game would be a strong magnet for the town’s community to show support for the family of Rochester Police Department Officer Daryl Pierson.
Officer Pierson, who wrestled and played baseball at East Rochester before his graduation in 1999, was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 3.
“It is a bittersweet thing,” East Rochester resident Travis Regan. “It’s great to honor Daryl Pierson in this way, but unfortunately the reason why we are honoring him is just a tragedy.
“The whole town has come together. I didn’t know Daryl, but it doesn’t matter. He’s an East Rochester person, and the community has come together to honor what he did for the community.”
East Rochester/Gananda’s football teams have pledged to raise money for Officer Pierson’s family through the sale of a memorial decal, polo-style shirts and collected donations for the remainder of the season.
“The last week we’ve been working hard to organize the events of tonight,” Greco said. “I was very pleased with how the ceremony went, I thought it was very well done. The crowd was great.
“We were hoping to get a good crowd tonight. We really did.”
Police officers from various departments and state troopers lined up during a color guard presentation before the game. Balloons were released in honor of Officer Pierson, whose younger brother Brett participated in the pregame coin toss.
“It reinforces why Dennis is coaching and why I help out,” said Sue Greco, Dennis’ wife. “When you see former players come back and honor someone who so richly deserve it, it just reinforces that we are doing the right thing.
“As hard as it is to have this situation happen, people are good. “
Sue Greco said that about 2,000 decals have been sold. The supplies being sold for the benefit were donated by business owners, which will allow all proceeds to go to Officer Pierson’s family.
“As you can see there were a lot of people here,” East Rochester/Gananda junior running back Travis Chavez said. “So much love and a lot of compassion, it was nice to see.
“It was difficult (to prepare for the game), I seen some guys who knew that police officer and it was difficult for them. But again, it was excitement, ‘We’re going to do this for him,’ just to show how much love we have for him.”
Wayne players wore the ER colors during the week in support of their opponents. The Eagles rallied to win, as they scored all of their points during the fourth quarter of the Finger Lakes East Division game.
QB Braeden Zenelovic threw three TD passes for Wayne, including the go-ahead score on a 28-yarder to Jon Ecker with 33.3 seconds remaining.
Zenelovic completed 14 of 20 passes for 255 yards. Ecker caught four passes for 117 yards, including two of Zenelovic’s touchdown throws.
ER/Gananda’s Tyler Chavez ran for 135 yards on 32 carries.