Not often do games live up to the hype. On Saturday night at New Era Field, the Section VI Class A title match-up certainly came close. The West Seneca West Indians scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to knock off South Park 27-24 to win the school’s first Section VI championship.
QB Matt Myers, a senior transfer from Bishop-Timon joined the Indians over the summer along with standout wide-receiver Juston Johnson. Their arrival had an immediate impact and changed the culture of the locker room overnight.
The Indians who were widely considered the doormat of Section VI football became perennial contenders for the first time and set a number of personal and school records in the process.
“Everyone in the school community has been so supportive,” Indians head coach Mike Vastola said after the historic win. “They’ve been waiting for this a very long time. When we saw what kind of team we could be, that’s about when we said we have a chance to win and win here.”
Other than a week seven close win over their rival West Seneca East, the Indians rarely faced any adversity. They pretty much had their way with opponents, until they met South Park Saturday. The Sparks have been through the ringer this season and battled through their fair share of adversity. To their credit, South Park found ways to win games in which they were outplayed.
In the Section VI Class A title game, the Indians scored first at 4:05 of the second quarter. With John Speyer’s one yard TD run and after an unsuccessful extra point attempt West Seneca West led 6-0. A key play on the drive was a seven yard run by Myers on fourth and one from the South Park 47. Myers followed up a few plays later with another good run, this time for 29 yards that brought them inside the Sparks 20.
On the ensuing kick-off Clarence Thomas scored on an 81 yard return tying the score at six. The Sparks failed to convert for the two points following the Thomas touchdown.
The Sparks forced the Indians to punt on their next possession and the South Park offense started to make some plays. First, Dabeyon Humphrey connected with Brandon Brown for a 15 yard pick up. Moments later, Humphrey threw a deep ball to Shyquan Brodie. The 6’ senior receiver made a great catch and ran into the end zone for the score. For the moment it appeared the Sparks took the lead. But both teams were called for holding and the down was repeated. On the next play Humphrey called his own number and scampered down to the Indians 15 yard line, setting the Sparks up for another scoring opportunity in the closing minutes of the half. But South Park committed two false starts back-to-back wiping out a promising drive.
The teams headed to the locker room tied at six after two quarters.
The second half was not kind to West Seneca. First, the Sparks recovered a Myers fumble and returned it 24 yards for the score. Dayquan Anderson a senior safety picked the ball up off the turf and sprinted, untouched to the end zone, giving the Sparks the 12-6 lead.
On the Indians very next possession, Myers threw an interception. It was Anderson once again with the huge play who returned it all the way to the West Seneca West one yard line, with Myers forcing him out of bounds. However, a flag was thrown and the ball was brought back outside the red zone.
Nevertheless, Humphrey and Anderson seized the momentum and connected once again, this time an eight-yard TD reception that would stand, gave the Sparks an 18-6 lead, unfortunately for South Park they could not convert for the two points.
Myers isn’t one of the best QB’s in WNY for nothing. After consecutive turnover’s Myers essentially put the Indians on his back and began clawing their way back into the game.
Starting from their 40. Myers connected on a 46 yard pass to senior wide receiver Jesse Broad. A few plays later Myers capped off the four-play drive with a five yard TD run. After Clifton kicked the extra point West Seneca West was within five points.
Early in the fourth quarter Myers led the Indians on another scoring drive. This time finding Kyle Haettich alone in the end zone for a four-yard TD reception, and taking a 20-18 lead.
“That was the first time our team was down all year,” Myers said. “We just kept our composure and started chipping away.”
It was vintage Myers in orchestrating the drives that put the Indians out front for good. After a long first half dodging a ferocious and unrelenting defensive line, the UB commit found his legs in the third quarter, much like he did against West Seneca East in week 7.
Things went from bad to worse for the Sparks less than a minute later. Josh Karmazyn intercepted a Humphrey pass and returned it to the house for a 70 yard pick six. West Seneca West had a 27-18 lead over the previously unbeaten Sparks late in the 4th quarter.
“The kids are very disappointed, obviously,” Sparks coach Tim Delaney said afterwards. “The seniors left it all out there and we’re going to miss them. But this is something to build on as I’ve said from the beginning this is a very young team and they faced a lot of adversity and deserved to play in this game.”
The Indians not only had new weapons on the field but they had another key addition to the coaching staff in assistant Rich Sanders a standout high-school player in his own right and a former UB Bull.
“I just kept telling these guys to not lay back, give it everything,” Sanders said, adding “they did, we had a game plan and the guys bought in, from the beginning.”
The Sparks did add another score as time expired, Anderson caught another TD pass from Humphrey making it a three point game.
The Indians will travel to Brockport next weekend to take on Wilson of Section VI in the Far West Regionals.