ODESSA – By playing in front of the home crowd and picking up its first win, the Watkins Glen/Odessa-Montour football team took the final unofficial steps to complete the merger of the programs.
Actually, the Seneca Indians took a lot of steps Saturday night at Charles Martin Field, particularly their running backs.
WG/O-M backs Austin Dalrymple, Ian Chedzoy, Jordan Rappleye and Ryan Pruitt combined to rush for 446 yards and seven touchdowns as the Seneca Indians rolled to a 54-32 non-division victory over Elmira Notre Dame that was far more one-sided than the final score.
“It felt great to make history,” said Chedzoy, a senior.
Dalrymple led WG/O-M with 166 yards on 10 carries, including a 60-yard touchdown run that gave his team the lead less than a minute into play. He added a 46-yard touchdown run to increase the advantage to 22-0 with 2:13 remaining in the opening quarter.
Chedzoy, the fullback in WG/O-M’s double-wing attack, put up 122 yards on 10 carries, with touchdown runs of of 5, 8 and 65 yards. Rappleye had 88 yards on 13 carries and Pruitt finished with 70 yards and two touchdowns on just three attempts.
The Seneca Indians led 54-6 less than five minutes into the third quarter after touchdown runs of 27 and 25 yards from Pruitt, then left the remainder of the game largely up to the reserves. Notre Dame fell to 1-1.
“This is as big as a step as there could be. It’s always important to get No. 1 and that’s what we got,” WG/O-M head coach Lou Condon Jr. said. “And the icing on the cake is that (Notre Dame coach Mike) D’Aloisio, he’s a legend. I’ve said that all week to our guys, to the media. He’s a class act and we defeated a top of the line program tonight. Like I said to my guys, I can only hope we can develop that kind of a program like Coach D’Aloisio runs over that at Notre Dame.”
Last year O-M’s season was done after just two games because of a lack of players, which led to the merger. This year the returning players from that group can start to think about making a playoff push, with the win following a mistake-filled 55-12 debut last week against Owego Free Academy that saw the Seneca Indians fumble seven times.
“I think we were angry,” Chedzoy said of the team’s attitude following that loss. “We didn’t want that to happen again. Coaches were fired up, trying to get us fired up. It’s an attitude change this week.”
Fans from both communities loudly cheered their new team despite a steady rain that fell throughout the night. Home games will also be played this season at Watkins Glen High School. After Saturday’s victory, the players celebrated in the end zone as Condon talked about building on this moment.
“When you have a new program and a new team like this with a merger, (the biggest thing is that) both schools came together tonight,” he said. “It was pouring out there, the people showed up for both schools. It was a beautiful and fun night.”
Chedzoy said overall execution of the offense was improved from last week and it also made a big difference to eliminate the fumble issues that derailed an otherwise effective ground game against Owego. In Week 2, the Seneca Indians were on the right side of the turnover battle, recovering three fumbles that helped put the game out of reach.
“I think the biggest thing that stands out to me is the difference when you don’t turn the ball over,” Condon said. “That was our key this week. And I think our offensive line did a phenomenal job blocking and they showed we can block and we can run the ball, we can move the ball and we can score.”
Chedzoy’s 65-yard touchdown run came with 2:22 left in the second quarter and gave WG/O-M a 38-6 halftime lead. It was perhaps the most impressive score of the night, with the stocky fullback outrunning everyone down the sideline after breaking the play to the outside.
“I finally learned how to cut back and it was wide open,” Chedzoy said. “It was great blocking on that play and I just didn’t look back and just kept running. It felt good to run into the end zone untouched.”
Derrick Stark had 66 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries for Notre Dame, which opened with a 46-12 home victory over Thomas A. Edison last week. Gary Raupers connected with Tim Davis for a 27-yard touchdown that gave the Crusaders their only points of the first half. Tyler Jones hit Raupers for a 12-yard touchdown to complete the scoring.
Notre Dame faces its first Section 4, Division VIII game Friday at Spencer-Van Etten. WG/O-M is back in action Sept. 19 at Whitney Point.
On Twitter: @SGAndrewLegare