Weekly Feature

2018-09-13 / Sports

Cheektowaga gridders shut out EA/Holland

Victory provides exclamation point on night that new field is dedicated

East Aurora/Holland running back Finn O’Brien tries to elude Cheektowaga’s Isaiah Wilson during the Blue Devils’ 31-0 setback on the road Friday. Photo by Dan Nesselbush Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com East Aurora/Holland running back Finn O’Brien tries to elude Cheektowaga’s Isaiah Wilson during the Blue Devils’ 31-0 setback on the road Friday. Photo by Dan Nesselbush Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Cheektowaga’s football team helped successfully christen its new multi-sport artificial turf athletic facility in its home opener Friday, as the Warriors held East Aurora/ Holland to a net total of negative three yards of offense in posting their second shutout in as many weeks, 31-0.

Keshone Beal and Tamell Bass had an almost supernatural connection in the passing game for Cheektowaga, as the pair hooked up three times in the first quarter – from 25, 27 and 28 yards out, respectively, to give the Warriors a comfortable 18-0 lead heading into the second stanza. Bass caught five other passes from Beal on the night to finish with an eye-popping 200 yards, which were just over two-thirds of Beal’s 273 yards via his 14-of-22 performance.

“You really have to account for Tamell’s talent if you want to try to defend him, and if you don’t, well, we’re going to go there,” Cheektowaga coach Mike Fatta said. “We have a really nice advantage in that Keshone can make all the throws we want him to be able to, while also being a running threat for us. He can get the ball to his receivers for sure if teams want to try and take away his running ability.”

As successful as the Warriors were all night, the score could’ve been even more one-sided had they not committed four turnovers for the contest. The Blue Devils actually picked Beal off on his first pass attempt of the night, and then immediately got the ball back on a fumbled punt return catch attempt – but East Aurora/Holland couldn’t sustain drives on either possession. In fact, the Blue Devils only collected three first downs compared with Cheektowaga’s 20, leading to the 443-yard disparity between the teams on the night.

“We played them so well defensively and our special teams unit did so well, too, but they’re a big-play offense and their quarterback really can throw it,” East Aurora/ Holland coach John Swiniuch said. “If we would’ve been able to generate some offense to where we could’ve run some clock and just put some drives together, maybe even score a couple times, I think it would’ve been an entirely different game.

But, they’re just too good of a team to give the kinds of opportunities to them we did. The score is what it is, but I still believe it was definitely one of our better defensive games that we’ve played in a long time.”

After a bit of a lull in the scoring action through the second and third quarters, the Warriors – who recognized, as a program, members of the 10 families who formed the Concerned Parents group in the late 1970s, a group credited with helping save extra-curricular activities like sports back when they were on the budget chopping block – tacked on a pair of rushing touchdowns near the tail end of the third quarter and in the fourth quarter, respectively. Imani Reed had the honor of finishing off both scoring drives, rumbling into the end zone from 5 and 1 yard out, respectively.

“It was just a great night for the program for many different reasons, including all of the alumni who were there to witness the dedication of the field and the recognition of the people who, in the grand scheme of things, made this field possible,” Fatta said. “It really was a celebration of the growth that has taken place in our school in general since the 1970s, and they were treated to a real nice performance. It’ll be great if we can maintain the kind of effort we played with Friday, especially defensively, as we progress further in competition level throughout the season.”

Beal also had 45 yards on 11 carries to help keep East Aurora/ Holland’s defense honest, while Davon Hughes added 48 yards on 10 carries. Jason Saloman finished with 30 yards on two carries, while Reed added 27 yards on six carries. Jayden DuBard chipped in with three catches for 48 yards, and Hughes added two catches for 23 yards for the victors.

Defensively, Cheektowaga was paced by the 10-tackle efforts of Jabari McDonald, Taivaughn Roach and Paul Portorreal. Caleb Graves added seven total tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble, while Fred Parsons had an interception for the victors (2-0, 2-0 Class B-1), who travel to division newcomer Iroquois (1-1, 1-1 B-1) Friday for a key league contest.

“Iroquois will be our biggest challenge to date for sure,” said Fatta, who previously coached Iroquois’ Rob Pitzonka when he was a student in the district during middle school. “They play hard every week, they’re well coached and they do some things that are different when it comes to defending them, so we’ll have to continue to play with the same passion defensively that we have the first two weeks and tighten some things up offensively if we want to have a chance.”

East Aurora/Holland, meanwhile, saw Finn O’Brien record the best individual effort of the night offensively, as he caught four passes for 21 yards. Lucas Juliano was the team’s top rusher, with five yards on four carries, and he also completed nine passes for 10 yards.

Defensively, the Blue Devils (0-2, 0-2 B-1) were led by O’Brien’s 16 total tackles and one sack. Shane Macswan added nine tackles, while Jack Rogers and Joseph Kenefick (1 sack) each added seven stops. Sebastian Stencil-DeGweck had both interceptions for the Blue Devils, while Lucas Grad and Samuel Bergman each recovered a fumble.

Ryan Maloney chipped in with six tackles for East Aurora/Holland, which travels to Lake Shore (0-2, 0-1 B-1) Friday night for another critical divisional contest.

“We’ll keep working on the offense in order to try to make it easier and simpler, just so we can try to put some things together,” Swiniuch said. “It’s not like we don’t have any options; we just need to tighten some things down, like passing the ball quicker and running more in a north-south direction. That way hopefully we can at least try to grind out some possessions and lengthen the amount of time that we have the ball.

“I just think if we get rolling a little bit it’ll build up some confidence to where if they can see we can move the ball, they’ll get it and we’ll be fine,” Swiniuch continued. “We’re close, and we’re still positive for sure. It’s just a matter of the guys finding that confidence to push beyond where we’re at right now, and we’re looking forward to having the chance to do that Friday night at Lake Shore.”

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