PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (0-2)
KANE WOLVES (2-0)
Sept. 12, 2013
The Kane Wolves were less than a minute away from winning last year’s District 9 Class AA football championship before a last-second comeback by Karns City denied them a title and a trip to the state playoffs.
It’s early yet, but judging by their 54-0 dismantling of a young, injury-riddled Port Allegany team at Paul R. Miller Stadium on Friday night, they may want to keep their schedule open for the first weekend in December.
“That’s the best team in the league. I’ve seen almost every team play, and there’s no doubt – Kane’s legitimate,” Gator coach Mike Bodamer said. “I was thoroughly impressed with them: Speed, size, aggressiveness. They’re for real. They’re a good team.”
As good as the Wolves were on offense, with Kevin Cleer tossing four touchdown passes and John English rushing for 157 yards and another pair of scores, it was their defense setting the tone for the game. Pinned deep in their own end of the field for most of the night, the Gators were stuck in reverse, turning the ball over on their first five possessions (safety, interception, three lost fumbles) and never denting the Kane 35-yard line while finishing the game with negative total yardage.
“It just snowballed,” Bodamer said. “That first safety – we stop them on their first drive and make them punt, and they get a safety, and everything just falls apart.”
For second-year Kane coach Todd Silfies, it was about an attitude adjustment from last year’s game, a 46-13 win by a very different Port Allegany team.
“We tried to dictate things a little bit more this year. Last year they had us – they had a great team. This is a better football team,” he said of his own squad after watching them pitch the first shutout against the Gators since 2009. “We tried to, instead of accepting it a little bit and just letting them do it, we tried to dictate the flow of the football game and be a little more aggressive defensively. We wanted to keep the aggression up tonight, and I think we did. The kids responded well.”
The avalanche began with the safety, when a pack of Wolves blew up a flare pass in the Port end zone, and kept rolling downhill on the ensuing drive with English dragging would-be tacklers on a 15-yard jaunt to the first of his three scores.
Starting five consecutive possessions on the Gators’ side of midfield, Kane cashed in on four of them, with Cleer hitting Jeff Kocjancic and Logan Zuzek for a pair of touchdowns and English – already close to a 100-yard night at that point – adding a 3-yard dive to make it 26-0 midway through the second quarter. The Cleer-to-Kocjancic combo struck again just before halftime to send the game further out of reach, and the Wolves put it in cruise control in the second half, tacking on three more touchdowns to complete the scoring.
“Obviously, I think that was a great team effort,” Silfies said. “I thought Kevin Cleer did a nice job running the offense … John English, again, a big back running big. Can’t say enough about him. Defensively as a team, I thought that was just a phenomenal effort. We executed the gameplan we had, very disciplined, extremely physical, and that’s what it’s about here in Kane.”
So while the Wolves (2-0) head to Duke Center for a meeting with an Otto-Eldred team that came oh-so-close to stunning Brockway last week before falling 55-54 in overtime, the Gators (0-2) – scoreless in seven-plus quarters since bolting out to a 14-0 lead against Athens – are left trying to regroup in time for Saturday afternoon’s Homecoming contest against the combined forces of Ridgway and Johnsonburg. Strengthened by a 10-player infusion from the Rams program, the Elkers opened the season with a 20-8 win over O-E before dropping a 19-6 decision at Coudersport.
A year after boasting an 18-player senior class on one of the most talent-laden rosters in Port Allegany history, Bodamer can only wish for those kind of numbers this season, as injuries to key contributors – including all three captains – on an already-thin depth chart have left the Gators scrambling to plug holes with younger players.
“We’re still learning. Way too many mental mistakes,” he said. “We had a short week of practice (with the holiday on Monday and the JV game on Tuesday), but that still doesn’t excuse all the mental mistakes. Offensively, we’re just not reading the right plays, not running the right routes … (It’s) just not working out. We have to look at the offense and see what we can do differently. We’re trying to go with what we’ve done the last few years, and the personnel just may not be there to do that stuff.
“Learn from the mental mistakes and forget about the score. There’s nothing you can do about that.”
The pregame ceremonies began on a somber note, with a moment of silence, a balloon release from both sides of the field, and a prayer to remember the victims of last week’s horrific auto accident on Route 219. Among the fatalities were 12-year-old Olivia Douglas, a former Kane Tornadoes youth football cheerleader, and six-year-old Jarrett Costanzo, a member of this year’s team. Wolves players and coaches will wear a sticker for the rest of the season bearing Jarrett’s name and the motto, “Hustle, Hit, Never Quit.”
“I told the guys afterward it was a tough week in the community for everybody including our guys, and I’m just proud of the way they kind of took that on their back tonight and gave a great effort,” Silfies said.
At Kane, Sept. 6:
|Score by quarters:|
|Port Allegany Gators||0||0||0||0||–||0|
K – safety, Port receiver tackled in end zone, 2-0
K – John English 15 run (3 plays, 40 yards after safety, 1:21), kick failed, 8-0
K – Jeff Kocjancic 10 pass from Kevin Cleer (5 plays, 41 yards after Andrew Pierson interception, 2:08), kick blocked, 14-0
K – Logan Zuzek 5 pass from Cleer (8 plays, 47 yards after Zuzek fumble recovery, 2:49), run failed, 20-0
K – English 3 run (1 play, 3 yards after James Lingenfelter fumble recovery, 0:05), pass failed, 26-0
K – Kocjancic 22 pass from Cleer (9 plays, 76 yards, 4:34), Zuzek from Cleer, 34-0
K – English 34 pass from Cleer (8 plays, 63 yards, 3:44), Dillon Mattis kick, 41-0
K – Tyler Rolick 5 run (6 plays, 80 yards, 3:42), Mattis kick, 48-0
K – Shane Rolick 3 run (2 plays, 3 yards after blocked punt, 1:02), kick blocked, 54-0.
|Team Statistics:||Port A||Kane|
|Time of Poss.||21:34||26:26|
Rushing: Port Allegany – Dylan Evens 1-22, Tyler Shaffer 6-9, Mac Tanner 4-6, Chris Lashway 1-(-6), Bryan Stahlman 2-(-14), team 2-(-14), Jordan Seefeldt 6-(-51). Kane – John English 21-157, Tyler Rolick 3-45, Evan DeLong 5-33, James Lingenfelter 1-5, Tyler Weidenhoff 1-4, Shane Rolick 2-3, Jeff Kocjancic 1-3, Kevin Cleer 2-(-6), team 1-(-6).
Passing: Passing: Port Allegany – Seefeldt 7-15-1-37, Stahlman 1-2-0-7. Kane – Cleer 11-15-0-147.
Receiving: Receiving: Port Allegany – Lashway 2-23, Chad Gaines 3-11, Cory Burr 1-7, Joel Schroll 1-7, Tanner 1-(-4).
(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)