The Lancaster High School football team has won a whole lot of games over the last four seasons – and the Legends are in the midst of a dogfight for seeding in the Class AA Section VI playoffs.
But there’s just something special about the Depew game.
The Legends claimed the 91st meeting in the Great American Rivalry series, rolling to a 50-7 win over the feisty but overmatched Wildcats on Friday night at Foyle-Kling Field.
“It feels amazing,” Legends sophomore quarterback Jason Mansell said. “We knew we had to come out and take care of business. It’s the big rivalry game, they wanted it bad, we wanted it bad, and it feels great to come out on top.”
Lancaster beat Depew for the fourth straight season and improved to 52-33-6 in a rivalry that dates back to 1919.
“It’s a great feeling to beat them,” wide receiver Brian Martin said. “Good score, good team effort.”
The win moves Lancaster to 6-1 on the season. The Legends are 28-3 over the last three years but next week presents one of the biggest challenges they’ve seen in that run.
Lancaster travels to Orchard Park at 7 p.m. Friday for a Class AA game that will give the winner a home game for the sectional semifinals.
“We know we’ve got a tough game against the Quakers next week,” Mansell said. “We’ve got to keep focusing. This has got to be our biggest week of practice so far this season. We just have to keep working and get a home game in the playoffs.”
Mansell threw for 152 yards, including touchdowns of 32 yards to Nick Meara, 34 yards to Shawn Davis and 10 yards to Nick Vacanti. The running game was also strong as Tim Gardner ran for 89 yards and two touchdowns and Brandon Wingard added 85 yards and another score. Gianluca Fulciniti, Lancaster’s other quarterback, also ran for a TD.
“We pride ourselves on being balanced offensively,” Lancaster coach Eric Rupp said. “You have to be able to run and pass depending on what the defense gives you.”
The game is annually a part of the nationwide Great American Rivalry Series, created in 2004 by iHigh, Inc. and includes a trophy the Legends proudly held on Friday. There’s also an MVP – who gets a trophy and medal – and that award went to Gardner, who ran for TDs of 9 and 4 yards on the night.
“It feels really good but a lot of people could have won this,” Gardner said. “We all came together as a team and what better game to do that in than the Depew game?”
Depew’s touchdown – a five-yard run by Joe Pagano – came with 3:43 left. Pagano threw for 57 yards and ran for 25 more. Vunnal Blair ran for 31 yards and Alex Neu added 28.
P.J. Burns had three catches for 40 yards for the Wildcats (1-6) and Dante Dirienzo ended Lancaster’s opening drive with a pick for Depew.
But – in kind of a microcosm of the season – while the effort was there as always, the results weren’t there for the Wildcats.
“It’s tough,” Depew coach Mark DiRienzo said. “We fought hard but we had a lot of breakdowns. You can’t do that against a team like that.”