By David Yarger
In front of a loud crowd celebrating senior night, the Cheektowaga Warriors defeated the Lewiston-Porter Lancers, 62-0, under the lights at Lew-Port on Friday night.
It just wasn't the Lancers night, and Cheektowaga made every play possible.
On the first drive for Lew-Port, starting quarterback Kyle Jeffords went down injured and was replaced by Ian Evans. Jeffords would eventually return and each shared time at the position.
On the first drive, the Lancers tried going for it on fourth down, but Evans pass was incomplete and Cheektowaga took over.
After a 16-yard gain by Warriors running back Seven Turpin, quarterback Eric Batnik threw up a deep pass to a wide-open Tommy Zolinowski, and there was nobody there to stop him. He walked into the end zone to make it a quick 7-0.
Lew-Port took over on offense after the score and looked poised to tie the game after Evans completed a pass to Nick Christman, and then Will Duff had a 16-yard gain. The drive was ruined, though, by a snap that Evans wasn't expecting. The ball bounced off his helmet onto the turf and was picked up by Warriors linebacker Markel Ortiz, who then ran it the distance to make it 14-0 Cheektowaga.
Lew-Port would punt on its next drive after having a big play slip through the hands of a receiver. Lew-Port's next two defensive drives would last two plays, both ending in Duff interceptions. The first interception was a play-of-the-year candidate, with Duff jumping in front of the receiver and grabbing the ball out of the air with one hand.
Neither interception would lead to Lancer points, however, as the Lew-Port offense would go four-and-out and then three-and-out on the drives.
Lew-Port punted the ball away after going three-and-out and Cheektowaga got back on the board quick, as Seth Conner returned the punt to the end zone to extend the lead to 21-0.
After another Lancer punt, Batnik tossed a touchdown to Stephen Parker. He caught it and made a series of moves that had his defender on the ground. The score was 28-0.
Lew-Port's next drive saw the return of starting QB Jeffords, but the Lancers couldn't get anything going and punted once again.
Cheektowaga came back out on the field and Batnik was locked in with receiver, Shaquil Heard. After a catch and run for a gain of 20, Heard ended the drive by hauling in another touchdown pass from Batnik.
The score at halftime was 35-0 Cheektowaga.
After back-to-back drives where both teams went for it on fourth down and failed, Cheektowaga took over. Turpin did the heavy lifting on the drive, gaining 48 yards on three running attempts. Batnik finished the drive by finding De'marion McGinnis in the end zone. Lew-Port blocked the extra point, making the score 41-0.
The Lancers' woes continued on their next offensive drive, as an Evans pass was intercepted and returned to the two-yard line. Batnik would convert the turnover into points, making it 48-0 Warriors.
After a Lancers' drive stalled, Cheektowaga came back out and let running back Michael Gray III go to work. On the first carry, Gray III took it 77 yards for a touchdown.
Gray III did it again on Cheektowaga's next drive, pounding the ball down the field to reach over 100 yards on the night, capping it off with his second touchdown of the night. The scoreboard showed a 62-0 Warriors lead, and that would be the final tally.
Although the game did not go as planned, Lancers head coach Dave Adelizi found some positives in the defeat, noting Cheektowaga is a top team in the Western New York region.
"Some of the younger players are coming around and the kids played hard. We played an exceptional team - they're the No.1 team in Western New York," Adelizi said. "We could've played better; we had opportunities to score and we just didn't get the ball in."
After a loss like that, Adelizi told his kids to keep their heads up and look forward to the next play.
"One of things you gotta' learn from football is building character and work ethic and understanding that, even when things go bad, you gotta' dig in and you gotta' try to make things better," he said. "That's one of the lessons of the game - that's one of the things sports are all about - so that's what we have to concentrate on. And realize that we gotta' work on getting better, and the fact that the next game is a new ball game; it's a fresh start. And we gotta' play every play and not worry about the last one."
It was a big night for the Lancers though, as it was senior night. During pre-game ceremonies, senior football players and cheerleaders were recognized with their parents.
Adelizi had high praise for his seniors.
"The seniors this year have been really awesome in keeping the team in a family attitude," he said. "I've been here for two years and they kept the family attitude, and I'm very proud of that. They worked during the summer, and put in time in the weight room, sometimes at 6:30 in the morning three days a week, and they have a lot to be proud of, and I'm very proud of them.
The Lancers (2-4) will hit the road Friday to take on the Burgard Bulldogs (2-3), while Cheektowaga (6-0) will look to preserve its undefeated record at home against the also-undefeated Maryvale (6-0).
•The Niagara Falls Wolverines clinched a home playoff game after defeating the Williamsville North Spartans, 17-14.
•Starpoint came back again this week to defeat Williamsville South, 41-37, after being down by 10 in the third quarter. The team remains undefeated.
•North Tonawanda got over last week's tough defeat to Starpoint by beating Amherst, 49-16.