Here is how and when the magnitude of Friday night’s 28-6 football victory over Union-Endicott struck Vestal quarterback T.J. Wegmann.
“It really dawned on me when Nick Anderson standing on the sideline, he graduated five, six years ago,” Wegmann said. “He came up to me and he said, ‘You know? That’s a good feeling. It never happened when I was in high school.’ So, a long time since we last beat U-E.”
Friday night’s outcome at Dick Hoover Stadium brought the home team its first victory over U-E since 2008, and halted the Tigers’ 10-game win streak in the series.
The Bears pulled it off despite the absence of starting guard/linebacker Zach Stewart — “our emotional leader,” coach Tank Anderson called him. Stewart missed a second consecutive game because of an ankle injury sustained in Phys Ed class. Another two-way starter, guard/end Mike Taylor, had his season concluded with a knee injury during practice in Week 2.
Wegmann completed the scoring with a play sure to hang around the family’s video treasure chest for some time.
On a fourth-and-8 play from U-E’s 28-yard line in the final quarter, Wegmann rolled to his left, took a look at what was developing, threw on the brakes, went airborne and connected with Rusty Virkler just inside the 10-yard line. Virkler headed on in for a touchdown.
“Honestly, we’ve never practiced that,” Wegmann said. “Coach actually told me, ‘Just run to the outside. Don’t throw the ball unless someone is completely wide open.’ And he was wide open. The corner came up on me, and there was no one there, so, I jumped and dumped it over.”
Sounds like fiction, but:
Top-ranked Chenango Forks ran 41 offensive plays in the second half Saturday to four for host Newark Valley. Yet, the Cardinals outscored Forks by 21-7, leaving the Blue Devils a 34-21 victory.
Newark Valley scored on three of those four offensive opportunities, from 48, 64 and 65 yards, respectively.
As for Play of the Game? A case could be made for Trevor Borchardt’s defensive beauty late in the first half to snuff out the Cardinals’ last possession.
Six-foot-6 Forks end Borchardt went airborne to bat a pass from Nick Schermerhorn to himself, and cradled the interception to stop a drive that had reached Forks’ 44-yard line.
Forks coach David Hogan could not identify a half of football this year in which his team’s execution rivaled that of the first half at Newark Valley, which ended with the Devils holding a 27-0 lead.
“I don’t think so. That was flawless. About any play we ran, we did it well. All 11 guys did it very, very well,” he said.
Newark Valley (5-1), which figures to rightly remain a top-10 team in Class C, continues to establish itself as a program on the fast track. Coach Brian Sherwood was asked: How close are the Cards to approaching Forks’ level?
“We’re closer than we were yesterday,” he said. “We’re still a ways away. We’re giving up quite a few pounds across the front. We’ve got the weight program coming along, so we’re getting stronger. This is the first time we got some push offensively against them.
“We’re getting closer. My experience and our staff’s experience, compared to Chick and Kelsey and Dave, who have 100 years of coaching … We have an idea. It takes us three to four plays to see what they’re doing. It takes them one play to see what we’re doing.
“Their experience is tough to substitute.”
Owego senior Robert Shank scored his first varsity touchdown, intercepted a pass and had a big kick return during the Indians’ 33-28 victory Friday at Windsor.
Shank caught a halfback pass from Patrick Bilbrey on the left side of the field and continued into the end zone on a 56-yard scoring play in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Shank picked off an underthrown ball by Trevor Kimble, and Owego scored five plays later.
Unfortunately, Shank suffered a knee injury after returning the second-half kickoff 34 yards to Windsor’s 44.
“I’m not sure,” Owego coach Steve Virkler said when asked about the extent of Shank’s injury after the game. “ He landed on his knee and was in quite a bit of pain. He said he heard something pop.”
Have a handle on the Class B playoff picture, do you?
Well, then you’re ahead of Susquehanna Valley coach Mike Ford.
“I said before the season Class B was going to be a competitive division,” Ford said. “It seems every week we have a chalkboard up, going through the different scenarios until our heads explode, with how many possibilities there are. It’s wide open. The next two weeks being division games are huge for us.”
Four teams will qualify for the playoffs out of Division III in the Section 4 Football Conference.
Chenango Valley, at 5-0, is in, and Waverly, at 3-1, appears to be in good shape. The next three teams are 2-2 — SV, Owego and Windsor.
SV closes its season against CV and Oneonta; Owego faces Norwich and Waverly; and Windsor has Waverly and Norwich.
Even Norwich, at 1-3 in division, could contend if it beats Owego and Windsor to finish.
Line big part of Elmira success
Elmira’s double-wing offense is putting up staggering numbers, with Saturday’s 55-14 victory over Corning adding to a stretch in which the Express has outscored its last four opponents by a count of 247-28.
The running game has produced 2,283 yards and 9.4 yards per rush this season, with senior wingback Dashaun Sutton carrying 93 times for 933 yards and 16 touchdowns, and senior Allaah Sessions adding 664 yards and 11 touchdowns on 62 rushes as the other wing.
Behind those stats is an offensive line that has gotten better week by week in helping the Express to a 6-0 record. The unit includes junior tight end Christian Meagher (6-foot, 185 pounds), sophomore tight end Dan Fedor (6-6, 260), senior center Zane Tucker (6-foot, 240), senior guard Matt Burge (5-7, 195), junior guard Josh Noonan (6-2, 220), junior tackle Robert Harriel (6-1, 240) and senior tackle Cole Berry (5-11, 240).
“You can’t run the ball if you don’t have linemen,” Express coach Jimmy McCauley said. “These guys do a great job of making sure their bodies are in shape. That means sprinting, running hills, lifting and trying to get as strong as they possibly can. It’s evident right here on Saturday. Again, it’s preparation and trying to be as prepared as possible.”
The praise was equally high from Corning coach George Bacalles.
“For the double-wing to work, you have to have a combination of a really good offensive line, and obviously, you have to have running backs who can run with it,” he said. “Their offensive line did a great job (Saturday). We knew that was one of the strengths of their team, and they’ve done a great job of putting together seven guys up front who are able to wall down, kick out, pull and everything. That’s a credit to their staff and their kids.”
Rob Centorani and Andrew Legare contributed.