A new chapter started in the Williamsville School District Friday night at Williamsville North. The first ever varsity football game was played on the new turf field that was recently installed on campus. Which was part of the $22 million dollar capital improvement project residents passed a couple years earlier. Phase one of the development is now complete. The other two high schools in the Williamsville district, East and South will receive the same upgrades to their facilities, beginning next spring.
The Spartans and the Niagara Wheatfield Falcons game was well attended. The bleachers were full and people stood around the fence until the end of the 4th quarter. In some spots they were three deep.
Prior to kick-off there was a ribbon cutting and prepared speeches conducted in a special ceremony at the 50 yard line. Superintendent Scott G. Martzloff opened the program and local dignitaries including Toni Vazquez. She was one of two board members that voted against the project. On Friday she was all smiles and praised the work that was done.
Niagara Wheatfield came into this game having lost two straight, convincingly. In a somewhat surprise move by the Falcons, sophomore Jordan Parks was called up from JV to start at quarterback. “I found out after the Clarence game I’d get a chance to start” said Parks, adding “I was nervous about the game but after the 1st half I settled down.” Parks led the Falcons on two scoring drives. He finished 4 of 13 passing for 37 yards and rushed for 45 yards and both Falcons touchdowns.
North quarterback Jason Hwang had an up and down game. The senior struggled for most of the first half. He threw the first of three interceptions on a broken play in the first quarter. While attempting to roll out to the left and with several Falcons defenders in hot pursuit Hwang attempted a short pass but was hit as the ball left his hand.
North’s offense finally put a solid drive together late in the second quarter. J. Hwang threw a screen pass to his brother Andrew who scrambled 30 yards for the touchdown. After a successful extra point attempt the Spartans led 7-0. Then North’s defense forced the Falcons into a quick 3-and-out and a botched punt attempt. Starting with great field position J. Hwang fired a 32-yard pass to Jairus Huggins who made a leaping grab and went out at the Niagara Wheatfield 2-yard line. A play later Andrew was in the end zone for his 2nd rushing TD and a 14-0 Spartans lead.
The 2nd half started just as badly for the Falcons as the 1st half ended. Senior WR Rodney Corbin caught a short pass from Jason and ran down for another Will North touchdown, a 70 yard play just 20 seconds into the 3rd quarter. The game was quite chippy throughout with a number of late hits including an ejection in the 4th quarter. Spartans Sr. OL Tyler Hochulski was thrown out after a late hit along the Falcons sideline. Hochulski is automatically suspended next week due to his ejection.
The Falcons kept at it and although down 21 points, continued to play hard. They were rewarded at 8:45 when Sparks ran in for the first of his two touchdowns. NW went for the 2 point conversion and KJ Welch punched through the Spartans defensive line.
Troy Robinson came in for the next Will North series as Jason experienced some cramping. Robinson threw up a long bomb to Huggins who made another big grab while two Falcons defenders surrounded him. Huggins came down with the football and ran for the score. A 52-yard TD play putting the Spartans up 28-8 with 5:39 left in the 3rd quarter.
The teams turned the ball over on each of their next possessions. For the Falcons, they intercepted Jason’s pass in the Spartans end zone. Preston Kolodziej (12) was the lucky recipient of Hwang’s pass.
Niagara Wheatfield scored another TD with 2:29 left in the 4th to get within 7 points. The on-sides kick was unsuccessful and North was able to run out the clock for the 28-21 victory.
Coach Brent Tylec said “Going into the game we needed to turn the ship around. We called up our JV guy and he’s quick. I thought he played well.” Senior Matt Mixon was relegated to the bench after starting the previous two games. “Mixon was a great teammate all week and especially today” Said Tylec. “He really helped Jordan get ready for today. He could have sulked but he didn’t. He was real supportive and I was proud of him.”
The Spartans were favored coming into this game and understandably so. Not too many people were giving the Falcons any hope to pull out a victory. Although the Falcons lost, they felt they earned respect. “It was an emotional game, we played real hard. This could really turn the season around for us” said senior captain Josh Shumate following the game.
Williamsville North had already beaten Jamestown and Kenmore West on the road. “They have a great linebacking core. Really fast, good pursuit of the ball carrier” Tylec said.
“We had trouble early handling the blitzes. We made some adjustments but that’s a top notch group of linebackers they have here at Will North.”
The Falcons were not intimidated by North’s record or the bright lights and large crowd. It showed early that they were focused. “I was extremely proud of the way our boys handled themselves today. They never quit, they play hard for 4 quarters” continued Tylec. Barring an injury, Parks will be the starter the rest of the way the coach said.
“We’re not happy about the score. But, we are really excited about the way we played” said Chandler Gilewski another senior captain. “When that train is moving we want to turn it around, that’s our motto and I felt we did that today. We kept the physicality up and took advantage of the turnovers”
“We were really inconsistent today. Could have played better” North coach Mike Mammoliti said after the game. “Maybe the bright lights had something to do with it but we’ll go back to work this week and get it straightened out.”
“My job is to make plays for my team, I like to be explosive” Huggins said. The 6’4 senior wide-out has 4 touchdowns this season and should garner attention for All-WNY this year. Anthony Maniscalco recorded an interception in the 2nd half. He is now the all-time leader in that category at North. “There was a lot of energy out there on the field today. We struggled to keep our heads in the game at times and made mistakes but we won” the senior said.
Next week North will travel to Lancaster while Niagara-Wheatfield heads to Kenmore West.
Leave a Reply