A last hurrah, a final sendoff, the cherry on top … you pick it.
Anyway, Maine-Endwell’s football firm of Balmer & Palmer worked its final high school case Wednesday night. It was open and shut.
So accustomed to preparing for indoor football at this time of the year, Spartans standouts Kyle Balmer and Mike Palmer figured in five touchdowns to lead the East to a 49-14 victory over the West in the Ernie Davis Senior Classic at Johnson City High.
Just days ago, they attempted to lead M-E to its 63rd straight victory, a try that went horribly wrong — seven turnovers proved the Spartans’ undoing in a 43-26 state-semifinal loss to Buffalo South Park Friday at Cicero-North Syracuse.
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With a fifth straight state championship out of the question, the M-E duo opted to test their skills with the best seniors in Section 4.
“Obviously, you know, we’d rather be playing in the Dome this week,” Balmer said of the site for Friday’s Class A state final, “but coach left us the decision whether to play or not tonight and I’m glad we chose to play because it was definitely nice to come out here one last time.”
On the first play from scrimmage, Palmer caught a 68-yard touchdown pass from Unatego’s Josh Feyerabend. That play started with Feyerabend aligned as a receiver to the right side. The shotgun snap came to Johnson City’s Jake Thompson, who then pitched to Feyerabend, who’d moved behind him. Feyerabend, Section 4’s all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns, then let one sail down the right side to Palmer, who was all by his lonesome.
“All the trick plays, that’s so much fun to be a part of,” said Palmer, also joined on this night by M-E teammates Kevin Barrett and Brady Wisniewski. “We practiced that a couple times and I think it worked out pretty well. He threw a great ball.”
Balmer capped the East’s next two scoring marches on runs of 5 and 79 yards. The latter came on a quarterback draw and Balmer showed off his speed, racing untouched to the end zone to give the East a 20-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Then the two hooked up one last time in the third quarter, with Palmer hauling in a Balmer pass in the back of the end zone, that 21-yard score extending East’s lead 28-8.
“To get another game with these guys, who I’ve been playing with since we were 6 years old, you couldn’t ask for more than that,” Palmer said.
On a night that had a decided M-E flavor to it, the Spartans’ Barrett decided to get involved, stepping in front of a John Dobson pass on the right sideline and returning the pick 40 yards for a touchdown.
And lastly, one final Spartan moment.
This one came with a twist. For so many years, Palmer’s been on the receiving end of throws, but he delivered this one. He received a pitch, moved to his left and lofted a high pass to the end zone. That’s just how Binghamton’s Rasheen Pettiford likes them. The acrobatic Patriot soared a good two feet off the turf on a 22-yard scoring play late in the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Feyerabend connected with JC’s Adam Korutz on a 12-yard touchdown pass.
The West’s touchdowns came on a 7-yard run by Corning’s Ali Muhammad in the second quarter and a 14-yard pass from Corning’s Dobson to Owego’s Will Gladney in the fourth quarter.
Deposit-Hancock running back Ronnie Ballard, who rushed for more than 2,200 yards this season, ripped off a pair of 30-plus-yard runs for the East.
Palmer earned offensive MVP honors for the East. Korutz was named the defensive MVP.
For the West, Gladney was named offensive MVP and Elmira’s Matt Burge grabbed the honor on defense.
East 49, West 14
ERNIE DAVIS SENIOR CLASSIC
at Johnson City
West … 0 8 0 6 — 14
East … 14 6 16 13 — 49
E — Mike Palmer 68 pass from Josh Feyerabend (kick blocked), 11:42.
E — Kyle Balmer 5 run (Mike Palmer pass from Kyle Balmer), 3:28.
E — Kyle Balmer 79 run (kick failed), 6:11.
W — Al Muhammad 7 run (Ali Muhammad run), 1:16.
E — Mike Palmer 21 pass from Kyle Balmer (Kyle Balmer run), 1:52.
E — Kevin Barrett 40 interception return (Mike Palmer pass from Kyle Balmer), 12.3.
W — Will Gladney 14 pass from John Dobson (pass failed), 11:23.
E — Adam Korutz 12 pass from Josh Feyerabend (Nick Pert kick), 6:22.
E — Rasheen Pettiford 22 pass from Mike Palmer (kick failed), 1:41.