The Cheektowaga Warriors’ community was celebrating much more than a new turf stadium Friday night.
They were celebrating the sacrifices and hard work made 40 years ago that in many ways made the night possible.
In 1978, Cheektowaga Central’s school budget failed three times. So, a group known as “Concerned Parents” came together and raised $15,000 to help fund the school’s extracurricular activities.
At the half, the 10 families who raised the funds were honored with a special ceremony.
During the gameplay, the Warriors football honored them with a dominating 31-0 victory over Class B1 foe East Aurora/Holland.
“It was a fun night,” Cheektowaga coach Mike Fatta said. “There was a lot of alumni here. People that really planted the seeds for what this became and had a lot to with the athletic program over the years. It was a good night for Cheektowaga.”
Senior quarterback KeShone Beal and classmate wide receiver Tamell Bass led the way connecting for three straight touchdowns.
“We’re good friends off as well on as on the field,” Beal said. “We have good chemistry.”
Beal was 14-of-22 for 273 yards with his three scores and ran for 45 yards. Bass finished the night with eight catches for 198 yards.
It appeared the Warriors needed a few snaps to settle into the game as they made a couple of mistakes early on.
On the first play from scrimmage Beal threw a deep pass that was intercepted by EA/H senior Sebastian Stencil-DeGweck. The Cheektowaga defense forced a punt after three plays. However, the Blue Devils recovered the ball after the punt went off an unsuspecting Warrior.
The Warriors finally got the ball as Isaiah Sharpe made a big stop in the backfield on an EA/H screen pass.
Davon Hughes took a couple carries to set up Beal and Bass’ first TD connection of the night, a 25-yard pass to the endzone with five minutes left the in the first.
Cheektowaga got another drive start from midfield and capitalized. Hughes got things going with a 10-yard run on a third and nine. That was followed by a 12-yard run by Beal a few plays later. The next play, Beal found Bass again for a score, this time a 27-yard pass and catch, giving their team a 12-0 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
Stencil-DeGweck came up with his second pick of the night on the Warriors’ first drive of the second quarter. Cheektowaga had a 60-yard drive going until the senior came up with the pick in the endzone.
Besides Stencil-DeGweck, senior tailback Finn O’Brien led the way on both sides of the ball for the Blue Devils picking up 16 tackles and a sack on defense. O’Brien is a transfer from California.
“(O’Brien) is a fantastic leaders for us,” East Aurora/Holland coach John Swiniuch said. “He shows the team how hard we need to play. He’s incredible.”
Unfortunately, EA/H gave the ball right back when Cheektowaga junior Fred Parsons got a pick of his own.
Later in the quarter, the Blue Devils had a short punt which was downed at midfield. A few plays, later Beal and Bass connected for their third touchdown of the night.
“(Bass) is a big athletic kid who can run with the ball after he catches it,” Fatta said. “They work their buts off.”
The duo almost scored before the half ended, but Bass went out of bounds at the one-yard line. The Warriors tried two hurried QB sneaks, but East Aurora/Holland stopped them both as time ran out.
In the third quarter, Beal found Bass for another big gain getting the Warriors to the EA/H 31. Imani Reed finished off the 10-play, 4:15 drive to give Cheektowaga the 25-0 lead heading into the fourth.
Senior Caleb Graves forced and recovered a fumble to set up the final Warrior touchdown. Bass made a 36-yard catch going out of bounds at the one, but this time Cheektowaga cashed in as Reed ran it in for the score.
Hughes led the way on the ground for the Warriors with 10 carries for 48 yards. Reed, who came in relief in the second half, finished with six carries for 27 yards along with his two scores.
On defense, Cheektowaga seniors Paul Portorreal and Taivaughn Roach each had 10 tackles, including three for a loss.
“Our team played great defensively but you can’t keep giving a team like Cheektowaga chances like that,” Swiniuch said. “They have great athletes and the more times they have the ball the more times they can score.”
Both teams will be on the road next week against Class B1 opponents. Cheektowaga (2-0, 2-0) will head to new division foe Iroquois (1-1, 1-1) at 7 p.m. while East Aurora/Holland will meet Lake Shore for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff.
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