Weekly Feature



2017-09-14 / Sports

First-half surge pushes Flyer gridders to win

JASON NADOLINSKI
Sports Reporter

Maryvale’s football team was able to find its footing in the first half of Friday’s contest with Pioneer, and that early success ultimately paved the way for the Flyers to take down coach Jeff Buccieri’s alma mater, 27-13.

Buccieri, who was worried about his squad’s performance Friday coming off an emotional comeback win over crosstown rival Cleveland Hill in the season opener, was shown by his players that he had nothing to fear when the Flyers pounded on a fumble deep into Pioneer’s opening drive of the contest. Buccieri said that from that point on, Maryvale “went to work,” with Rashad Law helping the Flyers get on the scoreboard first in the opening stanza with a 6-yard run.

Law came back with a second 6-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to push Maryvale’s lead to 14-0, and Connor Desiderio called his own number from nine yards out on another drive later in the frame to give the Flyers a healthy 21-0 lead at the break.

“We do a lot of offseason work with them, so we knew going into the game that we’d be going up against a very talented, very tough and very well-coached team in Pioneer,” Buccieri said. “It certainly was huge that we got rolling the way that we did in the first half.”

Buccieri conceded that Pioneer started to shift the momentum in its favor early in the second half, but just when it looked like the Panthers might start to do some damage, Dylan Casey came up with his second big momentum shifting play in as many weeks. With the Panthers moving the ball and looking poised to score, Casey snagged a pass and returned it 70 yards to paydirt to all but put the game away.

Pioneer did muster both of its touchdowns in the second half, but the Flyers’ defense bent far more often than it broke down the stretch.

“Momentum was starting to shift their way in the third quarter, so getting out to that big start that we did definitely helped us withstand that,” Buccieri said. “They definitely took it to us at times in the second half — we didn’t play as well as we would’ve liked for sure — but we were very happy to get the win in the end. They came out and were smacking us around — they were starting to get some things going in the third — but Dylan came up with another timely momentum shift for us that gave us a more comfortable cushion and let us eat the clock. He’s definitely got a nose for the big play.

“We’ve just got to put together four solid quarters moving forward, though, and not let teams hang round to the point where they could pull out a win.”

Jay Henley led Maryvale’s ground attack with 130 yards on 11 carries. Law finished with 70 yards on 11 carries to go along with his 34 yards on three catches, while Desiderio, who completed 8-of-12 passes for 94 yards, added 38 yards on the ground. Ray Blackwell chipped in with 37 yards on three catches.

Defensively, Nick Constanzo guided Maryvale’s efforts with 12 total tackles, seven of which were solo stops. Snycier Middlebrooks added nine total tackles (six solo), while Law (five solo) and Myles McCoy (four solo) each chipped in with seven tackles. Austin Majewski contributed three total tackles, a fumble recovery and a sack, while Casey had six tackles to go along with his interception.

Maryvale (2-0, 1-0 Class B-1) now turns its attention to Olean as it strives to maintain its solid start to the season. The Huskies haven’t lost at home in a couple of seasons, so Buccieri knows his squad will be in for a challenge in its bid to improve to 3-0.

“Olean was one of the top teams in Class B last year, and they’ve got a tough place to play so it’s going to be quite a challenge for us,” Buccieri said. “They have really talented running backs who are a big part of their offense, so we have to do what we can to limit them. They’ve got size and speed, and they’re not afraid to run you over. We’ve just got to do what we can to limit their big plays and put together a complete game where we’re focused on playing as hard as we can defensively.”

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