Playing football inside Rhinos Stadium has not been all bad for the Greece Athena Trojans.
The top seed of the Section V Class A Tournament won their season opener inside the soccer stadium. Seniors on the team also helped the Trojans win a sectional semifinal there two seasons ago.
There were also games that had tough endings for the Trojans at Rhinos Stadium.
“We get here, we play hard and then we always fall short,’’ Athena senior receiver/defensive back Kenny Speed said. “This year, we want to complete our season, go undefeated, have a complete season and win the Section V championship.’’
The good news for the Trojans is that they will back at Rhinos Stadium after defeating No. 4 Canandaigua, 28-7. The Trojans play for the championship that has eluded this team with talent, especially at quarterback, 8 p.m. next Friday.
No. 2 Brighton (8-1), a 50-36 winner over No. 3 Eastridge (6-3), is the opponent between Athena (9-0) and the first Section V football title for the Trojans since 1981. That’s 35 years.
“I’ve had really good teams but when Webster was (in Class AA) we couldn’t get past them,’’ Athena coach Rob Cerone said. “There was Fairport. Then Aquinas came into ‘A’ (at about the same time as Athena).
“We could never get over the hump.’’
Athena held a one-point lead, with possession of the ball at the Irondequoit 3-yard line during the fourth quarter of the 2014 sectional final. The Trojans fumbled the ball away, and Irondequoit drove 97 yards for the go-ahead points to win.
Canandaigua then pulled off a stunner last season when it put the Trojans out of the playoffs during the semifinals.
This a blowout, touchdown run by 225-pound Cunningham. pic.twitter.com/VzbJdPaMHs— James A. Johnson (@jjDandC) October 29, 2016
“I’m very, very excited to get back to the finals,’’ Athena senior quarterback Tavon Granison said. “I’m really eager, it’s going to be hard to talk about.
“I can’t get too eager because we have to focus. We’ve been to the finals before but that doesn’t mean that everything is going to turn out good. So we have to make sure we do everything we can to make it turn out good.’’
Granison had three touchdown runs, two short yardage and a 13-yarder, against Canandaigua. He completed 11-of-18 passes for 238 yards. His main target on this night was senior Kenny Speed, who finished with 157 receiving yards on four catches.
A catch of a tipped pass by Kyle Benham for a 17-yard touchdown helped give the Trojans a 14-6 lead with 5;57 remaining in the second quarter. Benham also was a force on defense with at least three sacks.
Brighton dominated against Eastridge. The Barons bottled up an explosive Eastridge offense while jumping out to a big lead and kept sending 5-foot 10-inch, 225-pound senior running back Jason Cunningham in the direction of the Lancers.
Cunningham finished with 220 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries as the Barons extended their best season since 1999.
Photo gallery: Class A football: Brighton 50, Eastridge 36