Orchard Park – Maple Grove continued their season of dominance in Section VI’s Class D division by defeating Franklinville-Ellicottville 33-6 at New Era Field Friday afternoon. Sr. running back Brad Benson rushed for three touchdowns in the victory. Trevor Micek and Nick Fabrizio also had touchdowns for the Red Dragons. Maple Grove wins the Section VI Class D sectional setting up a match-up next Friday against Section V’s Alexander Trojans (10-0).
Benson had TD runs of 2, 6 and 10 yards, he also converted a 2pt conversion on the game’s first score. He finished the game rushing for 153 yards on 32 carries. He’s been nominated for the Connolly Cup and Friday’s performance could help his chances in being named a finalist.
“Our line did a very good job tonight, especially our backs” Benson said after the win. This is his fourth time playing at New Era Field (formerly Ralph Wilson Stadium) “Coming into the stadium is still fun but the awe factor’s not as large for us so we can really focus on the game” Benson added.
In addition to having an explosive offense the Red Dragons feature a very stingy defense and that showed against the Titans. Maple Grove gave up a total of 110-yards of total offense and only allowed one touchdown. “It was a great team win” coach Curt Fischer said now in his 26th year. “Our kids weren’t going to let this slip away” Maple Grove forced three turnovers, two interceptions and a fumble.
“Offensively boy did we have a tough time, just unable to sustain our blocks or execute, that’s a great team” Titans coach Chad Bartoszek said following the loss. “Our expectations have risen you know, we were happy to be here but now we expect to be here, we wanted to win” he added.
Junior QB Brock Blecha led his team on a fourth quarter scoring drive, capping it off with a 2-yard run. The signature play of the drive was a 26-yard pass to Dooley Brennan on 3rd down. The Red Dragons however were just too much for Franklinville-Ellicottville. “We felt great coming into the game, we really thought we could win. We just stalled out on offense” Blecha said. “Maple Grove is a good team and really a great group of kids I hope they do well.” Blecha is a three sport athlete who won’t forget this game anytime soon but will be able to find some reprieve Monday when he laces up for the winter basketball season.
Maple Grove starting QB Dalton Dubois left in the 1st half with a lower leg injury. He was unable to return and his status for next week is up in the air. Sophomore Easton Tanner came in and filled in admirably. “I knew I had to get in there and do a job” Tanner said. Ironically enough he was just cleared to play this past Monday after missing six weeks with a broken left-hand. “The coaches prepared me very well, we had a great week of practice.” Tanner’s family were part of the large contingent of fans that made the trip up from Bemus Point.
Tanner was 2 of 5 passing, one of those passes was a 12-yard TD throw to Fabrizio who is a junior.
Time will tell if Dubois will be healthy in time to face the Trojans next Friday for the sectional title. In the meantime Tanner will prepare as the starter. “Tanner adjusted really well, he just came back Monday, he hadn’t had any reps and just did a great job” coach Fischer stated.
Marcus Livermore the starting center and linebacker was very happy with the way the team played “Our defensive line was just on point tonight and it all stemmed from a great week of practice.”
Maple Grove won’t have to travel far as the sectionals are back at New Era Field next weekend.
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