Weekly Feature

2017-09-07 / Sports

Central football blanks Lew-Port


Cheektowaga’s football team passed its first test of the season with flying colors Saturday when it shut out Lew-Port, 42-0, to win with relative ease.

The Warriors, who had a bunch of new players stepping into crucial roles this fall, looked every bit the team that has dominated Class B in the recent past, finishing the night with a 395-75 advantage in total yards of offense. Keshone Beal torched the Lancers in his varsity debut, throwing for three touchdowns and running for another to help Cheektowaga cruise to the victory.

“I was real happy to see the kids go out and do what they did,” coach Mike Fatta said. “It was fun to finally get out there and play somebody after working at things for the better part of eight months. A lot of these guys had never played a varsity game before either, but they worked really hard to get ready and we were proud of them for their preparation and then their execution.”

Beal hit two of his touchdown strikes in the first quarter — a 30-yard connection with Tamell Bass and a 51-yard pass to Tommy Zolnowski — to help the Warriors score all the points they would need on the night right out of the gate. Beal then called his own number on a 4-yard run early in the second quarter to boost the Warriors’ advantage to 22-0 before Keon White broke off a 15-yard run later in the frame to list Cheektowaga’s lead to 29-0.

Beal and Zolnowski connected again just before halftime, this time on a 36-yard scoring play, to boost the Warriors’ lead to 3-0 heading into the break. Michael Gray then scored the only touchdown of the second half on a 3-yard run in the third quarter.

“Lew-Port was blitzing a lot and Keshone was able to hit a lot of hot routes — [former quarterback] Eric [Bartnik] didn’t even do that — so he played a really smart game,” Fatta said. “Keshone couldn’t have played any better, to be honest. He was accurate and made good decisions out there; it was nice to see. It was good for all of our young guys to play a team like Lew-Port in the first week because it allowed us to build up some confidence.”

Beal finished the game 11-of-13 for 259 yards and three touchdowns, with Zolnowski gaining 113 yards on just four catches. Bass chipped in with 93 yards on three catches. Beal also paced the ground game with 30 yards on five carries, while Keon White added 21 yards on two carries.

Defensively, John Sweat had 11 total tackles to guide the way, while Taivaughn Roach, Kasean Anthony and Adam Bellaus all added seven total tackles. Seth Conner had two total tackles and an interception for the Warriors, who surrendered just eight first downs while limiting the Lancers to 1-of-9 third-down conversions and no fourth-down conversions in three attempts.

“I was real happy with how the defense played,” Fatta said. “There are a lot of seniors on that unit, and they played with a great intensity. The last few weeks they’ve had to hold back because they were so far ahead of the offense, so it was fun to let them loose and really get to work. They were chomping at the bit to go for sure.

“It was just really nice to see that we can take care of business and do what we have to do,” Fatta continued. “We played at high level regardless of the opponent, and now the new guys know what to expect, which is good because this week we’ll be playing one of our hardest games of the season.”

The Warriors jump out of divisional action Friday night when they host Sweet Home in that aforementioned tough outing, and Fatta is certainly interested to see how his players respond to the step up in competition level this week.

“Sweet Home has got a lot of weapons and a lot of players who are athletic and can play well in space, like one of the better running backs in the section, a quarterback who can run, and some good receivers,” Fatta said. “So, we’ll have our hands full as far as defending them. We’re going to have to pick our poison. The first thing you’ve got to do is try to contain their running game and make it hard for them to get yards on the ground, but they’re pretty balanced though, so we have to make sure we are working together and being smart out there.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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