It would be easy for Andrew Hersey to get down. The Lancaster High School junior is stuck on the depth chart behind record-breaking running back Zach Samborski – on a team that loves to pass.
Instead he just waits for his turn – which came on Friday night. With the passing game bogged down by the wet conditions and Samborski slowed by cramps, Hersey stepped to the forefront. He ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns and the Legends posted a hard-fought 27-6 win over rival Kenmore West in a Class AA Section VI quarterfinal at Foyle-Kling Field.
“Andrew Hersey stepped up big-time tonight,” Lancaster coach Eric Rupp said. “That’s the great thing about our offense, we’re going to spread it out, you never know when your number is going to be called. He’s had a great attitude all year; being stuck behind Zach is not advantageous. But he works hard and when he gets his opportunity, he takes advantage of it.”
The win improves Lancaster’s record to 8-0 and means the Legends will play next Friday night against either Niagara Falls or Hutch-Tech. The Legends also got some revenge; Kenmore West had ended Lancaster’s last four playoff runs – including each of the last three years.
“It’s great to get a little payback on them,” Samborski said. “They’re a great team; you know they’re going to be in it every year.”
On a wet field played in a steady rain, Lancaster’s usually dynamic passing attack was held in check by a tough Kenmore West defense. Record-setting senior wide receiver L.G. Castillo was held to one catch for no gain.
“We had a game plan to take him out of the game,” Kenmore West coach John Haynes said “They were going to have to do things with their other guys, They did. What are you going to do?”
Castillo certainly contributed with some impressive blocking – not to mention a field-flipping 62-yard punt that rolled to the Kenmore West 8-yard line late in the game, impressive as he is not the team’s usual punter.
Max Giordano was limited to three catches for 23 yards, but two came on fourth-down conversions. He also had a big pick on defense.
But on this wet night, it was all about the running backs. Samborski stole the show in the first half, running for a pair of touchdowns. He finished with 70 yards and is closing in on the No. 2 spot on Lancaster’s career rushing list.
He hobbled off in the third quarter with some minor cramping issues so Hersey took control. As a team, Lancaster ran for 224 yards against a Kenmore West team featuring a linebacking corps as good as any in the area.
“We’d been preparing all week for this,” Hersey said of the conditions. “Muddy field, we’ve got to pound the ball and that’s what we did tonight.”
Meanwhile. Kenmore West (3-5) was unable to get any offense going and was held under 100 yards until Lancaster had a three-score lead late in the fourth.
It started from the get-go as West failed on a fourth-down attempt at its own 35 on the first drive and Samborski opened the scoring with a 9-yard TD run. Jamir Lynch had an answer for the Blue Devils on defense, intercepting a pass and returning it 70 yards to the Lancaster 2 before being chased down by a hustling Giordano. On the next play, Erriono Giardina punched it in for the TD.
The Legends turned to the Wildcat plays on their second TD drive with Samborski taking the snap from center with Hersey beside him. Samborski finished the drive with a 1-yard run.
Hersey gave the Legends that cushion score on their first possession of the third quarter, racing 84 yards around the left side of the line and then his 6-yard score finished the scoring and capped his breakout night.
“I’m always ready,” Hersey said. “Sambo and I really complement each other well; he’s a great back. I’m happy to get the opportunity be able to show them what I can do.”
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