D9 playoffs: Snowbound in Bradford

PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (6-5)

6

KANE WOLVES (10-0)

29

Lori Chase
Nov. 19, 2015

Following a season where weather played a major role in deciding several area football games, Mother Nature had one last trick up her sleeve for last Friday’s Port Allegany-Kane District 9 Class A quarterfinal.

The game was moved to Bradford by D-9 officials after midweek rains rendered the well-used field in Kane unplayable, but a wintry blast of ‘football weather’ starting shortly before kickoff left both teams slipping and sliding on the snow-covered artificial turf at Parkway Field.

Advantage: Kane. With the tandem of Shane (157 yards) and Tyler Rolick (107) combining for three rushing touchdowns behind the blocking of fellow Big 30 All-Stars Jake Shrubb and Toby Fox, the second-seeded Wolves (10-0) plowed their way to a 29-6 victory, advancing to a semifinal rematch against Curwensville while ending Port’s 2015 campaign at 6-5 with their third win of the season over the Gators.

“They’re built for poor conditions,” Port coach Justin Bienkowski said, “but by no means is that an excuse why we lost. That’s a well-deserving football team. They’re big up front; they were moving us, and we just couldn’t counteract their size and their athleticism in the backfield.”

Said Kane coach Todd Silfies, after watching both Rolick twins hit the 100-yard mark for the second week in a row: “Really, it starts up front with our offensive and defensive lines. They set the tone. It was obviously a night in which you needed to run the football. We were able to do that, and that’s why we were successful.”

With both teams struggling to hang on to the ball in the wintry conditions, the Wolves took an early lead, nearly recovering a Gator fumble in the end zone before the ball squirted out of their grasp and past the back line for a safety.

Following an exchange of punts, the game turned in Port’s direction on, of all things, another Gator fumble. A hard hit popped the ball loose from running back Mac Tanner, but center Jacy Richardson was in perfect position to snag it out of midair. He took off for the end zone 65 yards away with his fellow offensive linemen forming a convoy behind him, walling off the desperate Wolves who were giving chase. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but with 3:41 left in the first quarter, the Gators held a 6-2 lead — the first time Kane had trailed since its Week 5 game against Ridgway, and just the second time all season.

“I can’t actually give away the name of it, but we’re going to have to call it the ‘ginger spice’ or something,” Bienkowski said with a laugh, referring to the red-haired Richardson. “That was a pretty exciting play. Our guys took advantage of one of their miscues. We knew that turnovers were going to maybe play a part with that weather.”

The steady burst of lake-effect snow forced a delay soon afterward, with players, coaches, cheerleaders, officials, and volunteers from both towns joining forces to try to clear the sidelines and yard markers with their feet.
For the second-year Port head coach, it brought back memories of the Gators’ 2012 D-9 championship game win against Clarion on the same snow-covered turf.

“When we went out there for special teams, it just kept coming and coming and coming. And when we started having to help brush the field off, that’s when deja vu really set in. I had a shovel in my hand three years ago, on the other side of the field,” he said. “Nobody knew it was going to be that bad (tonight). My weather app failed me.”

Port was still ahead as the second quarter began, but Kane was beginning to win the field-position battle, with Tyler Rolick returning a punt to the Gator 25, then capping off a short drive by bulling in for a 4-yard touchdown to retake the lead at 8-6.

The Wolves tried to surprise Port with an onside kick, but the ball rolled to a stop in the snow before traveling the required 10 yards. The Gators took over with their best field position of the night, pushing forward to the Kane 21 before sledding to a stop with a turnover on downs.

That was the closest they’d get for the rest of the game. Kane manufactured another scoring drive just before halftime, with Tyler Rolick tacking on his second rushing touchdown from 15 yards out to give the AML champs a 16-6 lead at the break. The Port offense spun its wheels in the snow in the second half, managing just a single first down and 11 yards of offense in the final two quarters, and the Wolves added a late pair of insurance touchdowns to advance to the semifinals.

Afterward, Silfies had plenty of respect for his opponent.

“Hats off to Port Allegany and all their seniors. That’s a football team that battled all year,” he said. “Great job by their coaching staff, and obviously by their kids.”

Thirteen Gator seniors played their final football game in orange and black, leaving the program with several holes to fill next season.

“It’s going to be a tough class to replace,” Bienkowski said. “They’ve known pretty much success from the time they came in. They had a couple of down years the last couple, but finished with some success, winning the North. Good kids that work hard. I wish them the best in their winter season and into the spring.”

He concluded, “It’s always unfortunate when it’s over, but it was a good season. To say it wasn’t successful would be crazy. I wish Kane all the best to represent the AML well in the district playoffs, and hopefully in the state playoffs. Kudos to them.”

DISTRICT IX CLASS A QUARTERFINAL
At Bradford, Nov. 13:

Port A – 6 0 0 0 – 6
Kane – 2 14 0 13 – 29

Scoring summary:
First Quarter

Kane (7:34) – Safety, Port fumble out of end zone, 0-2
Port (3:26) – Jacy Richardson 65 fumble recovery (1 play, 65 yards, 0:15); pass failed, 6-2
Second Quarter
Kane (8:35) – Tyler Rolick 4 run (5 plays, 64 yards, 1:44); kick failed, 6-8
Kane (1:38) – T. Rolick 15 run (3 plays, 25 yards, 0:47); Ange Costanzo pass from Shane Rolick, 6-16
Fourth Quarter
Kane (6:30) – S. Rolick 1 run (7 plays, 53 yards, 2:50); T. Rolick kick, 6-23
Kane (1:32) – Jake Shrubb recovered blocked punt in end zone; kick failed, 6-29

Team statistics:
First Downs: Port 5, Kane 17.
Rushes-Yds: Port 24-29, Kane 52-257.
Passing Yds: Port 61, Kane 37.
Comp-Att-Int: Port 4-22-1, Kane 4-9-0.
Total Yards: Port 90, Kane 294.
Fumbles-Lost: Port 6-1, Kane 3-1.
Punts-Avg: Port 7-27.1, Kane 6-31.8.
Penalties-Yds: Port 8-80, Kane 6-35.
Total Plays: Port 46, Kane 61.
Time of Poss.: Port 18:33, Kane 29:27.

Individual Stats:
Rushing:
Port – Jacy Richardson 0-65, Josiah Ramadhan 5-10, Jordan Seefeldt 1-0, Mac Tanner 5-(-1), Dylan Baumgarner 6-(-3), Tre Garzel 4-(-5), team 4-(-26). Kane – Shane Rolick 22-157 (TD), Tyler Rolick 23-107 (2 TD), Ange Costanzo 1-(-1), Tyler Weidenhoff 3-(-6), team 3-0.
Passing: Port – Garzel 3-17-0-45 yards, Tanner 1-2-0-16, Baumgarner 0-1-1-0, Seefeldt 0-2-0-0. Kane: S. Rolick 4-9-0-37.
Receiving: Port – Jake Kallenborn 1-27, Baumgarner 1-19, Garzel 1-16, Tanner 1-(-1). Kane – Ray Maze 1-21, Costanzo 1-7, Isaac Walters 1-7, Davis Gardner 1-2.‬

(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)

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PAHS season in review: soccer

The 2015 season was a challenging one for the Port Allegany High School soccer teams, with the Gator boys fighting through injuries and a difficult schedule while the girls tried to find replacements for the top two goal-scorers in the history of their program.

Despite all that, both squads managed to finish the regular season at .500, then push a higher-seeded opponent to the brink of an upset in first-round District 9 Class A playoff matches. And with several key contributors set to return, both coaches are optimistic about next year.

The Port High boys (9-10) stepped up in class for several games this season, facing New York Class B teams Olean (twice), Hornell, and Wellsville, as well as Pennsy Class AAA school Bradford in a schedule that 10th-year head coach Aaron Clark called “the most aggressive of my tenure.” That would’ve been a tall enough task without missing as many as four starters at a time due to injury/illness.

“This team, I feel, was just as talented as any of the last several we’ve had. They were just a bit snakebitten at times due to injuries,” he said, adding, “We played more top-notch opponents than we had in one season and were rarely outclassed. The problem is at A for boys soccer, you have to pile up wins to get a high seed and despite the moral victories we had, we had too many close losses that hurt our record.”

Just four seniors depart from this year’s team, but along with Daniel Bishel and Steven Bressan, that number includes four-year lettermen Garrett Talkington and Gage Caulkins.

“They were both longtime stalwarts on some extremely talented teams and they both had some big moments on the field for us,” Clark said. “Garrett has put up some impressive numbers in goal over the last few years and he set the bar high for any goalie that replaces him. Gage, despite his injury, had a pretty good year. Even though he wasn’t quite the same after he came back from his knee injury against Smethport he scored more goals this year (7) than he had the rest of his 3 years combined. I think if he doesn’t hurt his knee in the Smethport game he probably would have been in the discussion for league MVP and could have scored a lot more goals.”

Talkington leaves with a career 1.95 goals-against average and the program records for wins (37), shutouts (17), and single-season saves (160), but Clark expects junior-to-be Josh Mealy to step right into his place between the pipes.

‪”We’ll be bringing back a lot of offensive talent in MacKenzie Elliott (10 goals), Brandon McCaslin (team-best 12 and 9 assists), and Calvin Burleson in the three attacking positions in the middle along with every other regular starter,” he added.

“Our defensive group was a concern coming into the year and they probably became our strength. Every last one of our defenders will be coming back and they’ll continue to get stronger. I like our chances to make a push in the district next year.‬”

With Lady Gator 50-goal scorers Somer Buchsenschutz and Lynae Delacour departing via graduation and a young defense/midfield corps, many observers might have expected “three or four” wins, coach Travis Cowburn said.

Instead, with playmaking midfielder Autumn Buchsenschutz taking on more of a scoring role to finish with a team-high nine goals, the Gator girls doubled that total. Their final 8-9-2 record included the program’s first-ever wins at Bradford and Elk Catholic.

“I am so proud of the effort our team put forth this year,” Cowburn said, “and hoping to greatly expand on the season for next year. The experience that will be back on the team will be the key to any success we encounter.”

But to shoot for a fourth consecutive postseason berth next year, Cowburn knows he’ll need to replace several players, led by four-year starting goalkeeper Laura Fox.

“My seniors for the year were incredible. It seems like when we needed big plays, it was a senior who did it,” he said. “Kylie Bosworth and Emily Conklin were a vital interchangeable part of our team. Their versatility makes a coach’s job a lot easier. Ashley Anderson, although having ankle issues, played beautifully. Her abilities let us change out defensive personnel without losing skill. Samantha Metzger was one of our biggest surprises this year. Playing or not, she stepped up to be that leader that teams can rally around for any cause. Being a very driven coach, she and several other players such as Sydney Fitzsimmons, Brianna Roys, and others helped me keep the mood light when the pressure was mounting.

“As for Laura, she has been my rock for four years. She has grown as a player and more importantly she has matured into a fantastic person. Much of our success has depended on her for a long time and I am saddened to not have her next year.”

The cupboard isn’t bare, though, with Buchsenschutz back for her senior year and younger players like Leah Garzel (5 goals) and Autumn Freer (3) already showing a knack for finding the back of the net.

“‪We are a team who all seem to match each other and are very well rounded,” Cowburn said. “With an indoor intramural camp starting and several players joining into the Southern Tier Futbol Club training camp, we will have big expectations next year.‬”

PAHS season in review: volleyball

The 2015 campaign has been a roller-coaster ride for the Port Allegany volleyball team, but the Lady Gators completed their season on a positive note last week with a four-match winning streak to finish the year at .500 (10-10, 9-7 North Tier League).

“The girls certainly rose to the occasion at the end of the season,” coach Sharon Daniels wrote in an email to the Reporter Argus. “We had a rough go of it from the midway mark after losing Hannah Lathrop to an injury. We made a few adjustments and brought up a freshman to fill the role. Kierra Keck was definitely up for the challenge and worked so hard to compete. Her job was to block and block she did!

We moved Bri Bell back to outside (where she belonged) after playing middle the first half of the season. She was a trooper and carried a tremendous weight for the team. We filled the secondary middle position by running our setter, Mira Terrette, out of the middle. For a setter to block three positions while setting every pass is pretty amazing and Mira performed so well. She ended the season as the team’s leading blocker . . . It is completely unorthodox but we had to find a way to win and we found it!”

The Lady Gators closed out the year by sweeping the season series against Oswayo Valley (25-9, 20-25, 25-22, 25-22), Cameron County (25-17, 25-20, 25-12), and Austin (25-6, 25-14, 25-11), while celebrating Senior Night by avenging an earlier loss at Smethport with a 25-22, 25-23, 20-25, 25-22 win over the Lady Hubbers on Wednesday night.

“We played well against O-E and that play continued against Oswayo. We finally played consistently sound ball against Cameron County, Smethport and Austin,” Daniels wrote. “Pride was definitely in the works against Smethport. Coaching them last Wednesday evening was what every coach hopes for. Every skill we have worked on was executed by every player. I think it would be safe to say that the crowd got their money’s worth. We won jousts and ran quicks against a much bigger opponent. Makenzie Burr (eight kills, 23 digs) and McKaila Daniels (22 digs) passed lights out. Bri (16 kills, 15 digs) and Mira (seven kills, 35 assists, five blocks) filled their roles with confidence. Morgan Greeley and Kayla Sprankle served and defended well. Our four freshman, Keck (seven kills, three blocks), Erin Stauffer, Jenna Sprankle and Kayla Pesock performed like seasoned players. The team played controlled but not cautious. It was the most consistent ball we had played all season.”

The team is rounded out with Makayla Hults, Teddi Kaple, Savannah Gray and Giovanna Bruno, with Bell, Daniels, and Bruno the only seniors on a young roster.

“Without the contribution of all of our players we would not have experienced the success that we did,” Daniels wrote. “Due to a number of factors, we opted not to enter the state playoffs, but certainly had a memorable season.”

Kane claims AML Championship

PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (6-4)

0

KANE WOLVES (9-0)

21

Lori Chase
Nov. 12, 2015

Run and stop the run.

Sounds simple enough: Grind out yardage and points by running the football, keep the other team from doing the same, and you’ll win games.

It’s a formula Kane High School has used with great success lately. Averaging more than 320 rushing yards and scoring almost 40 points per game while allowing fewer than 10, the defending District 9 Class A champs haven’t lost since last year’s PIAA quarterfinals, rolling through the regular season with an unblemished record.

On Friday night, it earned them their fifth Allegheny Mountain League championship, their second in three years, with a 21-0 victory over Port Allegany at Paul R. Miller Stadium in Kane.

Shane Rolick rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns, twin brother Tyler added 123 to hit the 1,000-yard mark for the season, and Erik Delong contributed a scoring run as the Wolves (9-0) piled up 303 total yards while allowing just 65 to down the Gators (6-4) for the second time this season.

“AML champs. That’s what we set out to do every year,” coach Todd Silfies said. “We don’t talk about it early on, but that plaque right there is very special to us and we’re glad to have it back.”

Port didn’t make it easy for them, forcing four punts, a pair of turnovers on downs, and a fumble recovered by Nate Lowery to cap a second-half goal-line stand in a physical, hard-hitting contest. But with the Gator offense unable to move the ball, spending almost the entire game on its own side of midfield, Kane’s early lead proved to be insurmountable.

“First and foremost, without a doubt, congratulations to the Kane Wolves, Todd Silfies, his coaching staff, his players. Well deserved. They’re a class-act program,” Port coach Justin Bienkowski said. “But I’m really proud of the overall effort our guys gave. We had some mental breakdowns, some brain burps, whatever you want to call it. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the Rolicks and the Delong kid, some of those guys who ran the ball, are going to wake up (Saturday) knowing who they played last night. I’m proud of that.”

The Gators had an opportunity late in the first quarter, moving the ball to the Kane 31 following Delong’s 13-yard touchdown run. But the drive halted there, with a six-yard loss and a pair of incompletions leading to a fourth-and-long heave that Shane Rolick picked off at his own 20 to end the threat.

The Wolves responded with a 13-play, 70-yard march to their second score, with Shane Rolick covering the final eight yards and Tyler booting his second extra point to make it 14-0. They had one more chance to add to their lead before halftime, but the Port defense held, forcing a fourth-down incompletion from its own 17 to keep the score within reach.

Neither team was able to move the ball coming out of the locker room, with Kane seemingly facing disaster when a shotgun snap went over the punter’s head to set up the Gator offense at the Wolves’ 15. A quick 10-yard pass from Tre Garzel to Jordan Seefeldt gave Port first-and-goal at the 5, but they could go no further, turning the ball over on downs.

“They stole the momentum on that play when we made a mistake,” Silfies said, “but our motto all year has been picking each other up. The defense stepped up and stole the momentum right back from them. I thought it was huge. And then we didn’t get a first down, but Tyler Rolick’s punt from deep in our end, getting it over them, that changed field position.

“Those things matter in a close game like this. That score’s not indicative of how good of a football game this was.”

Rolick’s booming 56-yard punt flipped the field, and after another exchange of three-and-outs, the Wolves got the ball back at midfield and marched 50 yards for their final score of the night on Shane Rolick’s 27-yard read-option burst up the middle.

“You can’t win a championship of any kind, at any level, if you shoot yourself in the foot. You have to play near-perfect football to win. We didn’t do that tonight, and Kane did a better job,” Bienkowski said. “They play physical football. They take advantage of any opportunity you give them, and they make sure you pay for it.”

The win secured the No. 2 seed in the Class A playoffs for Kane, with Port grabbing the first wild-card slot at No. 7. By the luck of the draw, that means another visit to the “Wolves’ Den” this Friday night at 7 p.m. for a District 9 quarterfinal game.

(UPDATE: The game has been moved to Parkway Field in Bradford due to field conditions at Kane.)

Bienkowski knows his Gator squad will once again be the underdog, but they don’t plan on backing down.

“We told (the players), ‘You get that second chance. You can play with them. They put their pants on one leg at a time. They’re not immortals.’ We can give them a shot; again, we’ve got nothing to lose.

“I told the seniors, ‘You’re not guaranteed not much in life, but the one thing you are is one more football game. They know you really well, you know them really well. Roll the dice, and go from there.’”

AML CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
At Kane, Nov. 6:

Port A – 0 0 0 0 – 0
Kane – 7 7 7 0 – 21

Scoring summary:
First Quarter

Kane (5:18) – Erik Delong 13 run (5 plays, 48 yards); Tyler Rolick kick, 0-7
Second Quarter
Kane (8:49) – Shane Rolick 7 run (13 plays, 70 yards); T. Rolick kick, 0-14
Third Quarter
Kane (2:41) – S. Rolick 27 run (6 plays, 50 yards); T. Rolick kick, 0-21

Team statistics:
First Downs: Port 7, Kane 18.
Rushes-Yds: Port 16-(-11), Kane 61-296.
Passing Yds: Port 76, Kane 7.
Comp-Att-Int: Port 11-33-1, Kane 1-7-0.
Total Yards: Port 65, Kane 303.
Fumbles-Lost:
Port 1-0, Kane 3-1.
Punts-Avg: Port 8-28.0, Kane 4-36.8.
Penalties-Yds: Port 0-0, Kane 7-35.
Total Plays: Port 49, Kane 68.
Time of Poss.: Port 16:42, Kane 31:18.

Individual Stats:
Rushing: Port – Mac Tanner 6 carries-5 yards, Jordan Seefeldt 2-2, Dylan Baumgarner 3-2, Josiah Ramadhan 2-(-6), Tre Garzel 3-(-14). Kane – Shane Rolick 19-142 (2 TD), Tyler Rolick 30-123, Erik Delong 9-59 (TD), Ange Costanzo 2-3, team 1-(-31).
Passing: Port – Garzel 11-32-1-76 yards, Baumgarner 0-1-0-0. Kane: S. Rolick 1-7-0-7.
‪Receiving: Port – Baumgarner 5-53, Seefeldt 3-20, Tanner 2-5, Ramadhan 1-(-2). Kane – Tyler Weidenhoff 1-7.

AML Championship: Port Allegany at Kane

PORT ALLEGANY GATORS
(6-3, 5-0 AML NORTH)

KANE WOLVES
(9-0, 4-0 AML SOUTH)

ALLEGHENY MOUNTAIN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2015
KANE, PENNSYLVANIA
7:00 PM EDT

AML HISTORY

Port and Kane are tied with four AML championship-game victories each, second to Smethport’s seven since the league inaugurated its title tilt in 1986.

Port Allegany (4-2) Kane (4-0)
1986: Port Allegany 23, Johnsonburg 14 2002: Kane 35, Coudersport 19
1987: Johnsonburg 21, Port Allegany 20 2007: Kane 21, Cameron County 13
1988: Port Allegany 19, Ridgway 14 2008: Kane 7, Cameron County 6
2000: Curwensville 33, Port Allegany 21 2013: Kane 36, Sheffield 6
2011: Port Allegany 56, Brockway 27
2012: Port Allegany 54, Brockway 7

SERIES RECORD: Port holds a 9-8 edge in the 30 years since the Wolves joined the expanded AML, although Kane has won the last three meetings and seven of the last 10. The two teams have never met in either the AML title game or the District 9 playoffs.

1988: Port Allegany 38, Kane 0 2006: Kane 18, Port Allegany 6
1989: Port Allegany 17, Kane 0 2007: Kane 32, Port Allegany 7
1992: Port Allegany 15, Kane 6 2008: Kane 40, Port Allegany 20
1993: Port Allegany 20, Kane 0 2009: Port Allegany 15, Kane 14
1996: Port Allegany 10, Kane 6 2012: Port Allegany 46, Kane 13
1997: Port Allegany 26, Kane 18 2013: Kane 54, Port Allegany 0
1999: Kane 18, Port Allegany 8 2014: Kane 42, Port Allegany 6
2002: Kane 34, Port Allegany 17 2015: Kane 66, Port Allegany 22
2003: Port Allegany 18, Kane 14

LAST MEETING: September 25, 2015 – Wolves 66, Gators 22

A nightmarish start snowballed into a lopsided defeat for the Gators, with Kane returning a fumble for a touchdown on Port’s first play from scrimmage and adding three more scores before the game was five minutes old.

“I want to give all the props to coach Todd Silfies and his staff. They play with energy, they play with aggression. They’re a year-round football team, and they deserve all the credit,” Port coach Justin Bienkowski said. “They just play the game so hard. Their running backs run the ball hard, and their line blocks really well.”

The Gator defense was seeing double, as twin brothers Tyler and Shane Rolick accounted for six of Kane’s 10 touchdowns. Behind a massive line averaging 245 pounds per player, Tyler rushed for 216 yards and three scores and added one on a reception, while Shane caught another one of sophomore quarterback Reed Williams’ four TD passes and ran a kickoff back 79 yards to cap the Wolves’ scoring. Erik Delong (129 rushing yards) also hit triple digits as Kane rolled up 374 yards on the ground and 513 in total offense.

“The Rolick boys are as athletic as they come in our league. It reminds me of when Shawn played for us on the Big 30 team a couple of years ago; his brothers are built just like him,” Bienkowski said. “Hard-nosed kids, well-coached team in all three phases of the game. You can tell they put their work in.”

(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)

Week 9: Gators shut down Wolverines

SHEFFIELD WOLVERINES
(0-9, 0-5 AML NORTH)

0

PORT ALLEGANY GATORS
(6-3, 5-0 AML NORTH)

40

Lori Chase
Nov. 5, 2015

Four weeks into the 2015 schedule, Port Allegany High School’s varsity football season stood at a crossroads. Following a lopsided 66-22 setback at Kane with just 16 players healthy enough to dress, the Gators were 1-3. How would they respond?

By not losing another game since that night.

Last Friday, with the defense pitching its third shutout in five weeks, Port celebrated Senior Night at “The Swamp” with a 40-0 demolition of Sheffield to complete a sweep of the Allegheny Mountain League North Division, clinch a District 9 playoff berth, and tune up for a rematch with the Wolves in the AML championship game.

“It’s 100 percent, without a doubt, a credit to our kids for just buying into what we were trying to sell them,” coach Justin Bienkowski said. “I can’t say it enough: I would take the assistant coaches that I have the pleasure to work with, and those 20-plus kids that we have the opportunity to work with … I love all of them. I told them that I would be there for them, I would do anything for them. We’ve created a football family. It’s been really cool.

“Just to stick the course, stay the course. 1-and-3, 66 to 22, looking uphill. But that’s a credit (to the kids). That’s football. You fall down, you get back up.”

Following a Sheffield three-and-out on the Wolverines’ first series, Mac Tanner jumpstarted Port’s point production by fielding a punt on the bounce at midfield and streaking down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown. Josiah Ramadhan ran in for the two-point conversion, and the Gators took an 8-0 lead six minutes into the game.

As the first quarter ended, Sheffield thought they had a long punt-return score of their own, but a holding penalty brought the ball back to the Gator 45 and the offense couldn’t gain any ground from there. On the night, the Wolverines managed just 50 yards of total offense, never running a play from inside the Port 30-yard line until the final three minutes of the game.

The Gators were on the move again midway through the second stanza, with quarterback Jordan Seefeldt breaking free for a 44-yard jaunt from a read-option before a desperate shoestring tackle brought him down.

“(Jordan) runs the zone read really well. He reads everything really well. I told him I just wish he was a little bit faster,” Bienkowski said, smiling. “With the three-quarterback system we’ve got now, with Jordan, Dylan, and for the most part Tre, it makes teams prepare.”

The tandem of Tanner and Ramadhan moved the ball to the Sheffield 1, and Port rolled out its heavy equipment to cover the final yard. Lining up with a “jumbo” full-house backfield of linemen Nate Lowery, Ethan Budd, and Bryan Stahlman, Lowery rumbled into the end zone behind his blocking backs, and Stahlman tossed a two-point pass to Tanner to double the Gator lead to 16-0.

“I wouldn’t care to guess the average backfield weight on that formation,” Bienkowski joked. “But just to see those kids out there … Bryan Stahlman was a quarterback his sophomore year, he threw the pass to Mac. Nate Lowery getting some love, Ethan Budd getting some touches, the kids just smiling and having fun. I mean, it’s a game. Obviously you want to win, but it’s a game. And watching them enjoy it and play hard, get knocked down and get back up and having some tough adversity, but always sticking the course and doing what we ask them to do.”

Port had a chance to add another score just before the half, but a Sheffield interception with 0:03 remaining kept it a two-touchdown margin at the break.

For the fifth game in a row, the Gator defense had the upper hand in making halftime adjustments, forcing a three-and-out on the opponent’s opening possession of the third quarter. Sheffield’s bad series got even worse when the snap sailed over the punter’s head, turning the ball over at its own 22, and Port needed just three plays for Tre Garzel to fire a 16-yard strike to Dylan Baumgarner for the score. This time, it was Budd crashing in for the two-point conversion to make it 24-0.

Another Sheffield punt led to another Gator score a couple of minutes later, with Ramadhan taking a handoff 40 yards to paydirt on the first play of the drive. Lowery added the conversion, and as the third quarter ended with a 32-0 Port lead, time was running out on the Wolverines’ penultimate chance to get into the win column.

Baumgarner tacked on his second score of the half following another long Tanner punt return, with a Garzel run keeping the Gators perfect on two-point plays, invoking the running-clock mercy rule at 40-0 with 8:31 left in the game.

Sheffield had one final chance to get on the scoreboard after a roughing-the-passer call erased an 80-yard pick-six by Garzel, but a fumble recovery by Cody Lentz ended the threat and one last kneeldown ran the last few seconds off the clock.

“Heck of a way for our seniors to go off on their last home game,” Bienkowski said. “Luckily, our quality time together isn’t done yet. But it’s always good to obviously win the North, win your last home game and go off this field with a good feeling. I’m super proud of them.”

Now, Port (6-3, 5-0 AML North) turns its attention once again to Kane (9-0, 4-0 AML South), with head coach Todd Silfies leading a deep and talented pack of Wolves seeking their second league title in three years. Both teams own four modern-era AML crowns, tied for second place behind Smethport’s seven: Port won two of the first three in 1986 and 1988, then went back-to-back in 2011-12, while Kane is 4-0 in the championship game with wins in 2002, 2007, 2008, and 2013.

“Coach Z and I have been talking about Kane, what we can do defensively, and coach Luther and I will talk about what we can do offensively. But our motto all year has kind of been to let kids be kids, enjoy their weekend, enjoy the fun that comes with winning. And then we’ll be in the film room on Monday and try and figure out the best possible way we can beat a tough, tough, tough, well-coached Kane football team,” Bienkowski said. “Try to keep the ship afloat, and hopefully let Kane know we’re not backing down. They don’t win the AML championship just because they beat us by 44 points back on Sept. 25. They know that. Coach Silfies has put a great plan together. We’re going to try and put a great plan together, and we’re gonna let the kids have fun.”

Bienkowski knows what his squad is up against, with a Wolves offense capable of scoring either on the ground or through the air and a hard-hitting, turnover-happy defense. But, he cautioned, this isn’t the same Gator team that took the field back in September.

“It’s completely different,” he said. “Dylan was injured that night, Jordan was very new (coming back from a preseason injury), Nate Lowery had kind of a tender hamstring. The line was a little bit unsure of themselves. Cameron Fryer gives us more time, Brock Veilleux has seen some more snaps, Jared Mahon got some experience tonight.

“We’re a much different team. You always want to be playing your best ball at the end, and I really think we are. So we’re going to roll the dice and see what happens. We’ve got nothing to lose, because we’re playing the first round of districts the following week, which could potentially be Kane again unless we’re able to beat them next week. So we’ll see.”

NOTES:

  • It was Port’s 14th consecutive win over Sheffield dating back to 2001, their longest current streak against any AML team. The Gators now own a 26-4 edge over the Wolverines since two-division play began in 1986, and lead 47-17-1 since the two schools helped create the original six-team league (along with Coudersport, Otto Township, Smethport, and St. Marys) in 1951.
  • The Gators moved up to second in this week’s Olean Times Herald large-school poll, replacing St. Marys, which dropped to third. Kane, the only undefeated team left in the Big 30, remained the unanimous choice for No. 1.
  • Port placed a division-best eight players on the AML North all-star team: Dylan Baumgarner (E), Ethan Budd (G), Tre Garzel (QB), and Bryan Stahlman (T) on offense, and TyDel Green (DT), Nate Lowery (LB), Jordan Seefeldt (DB), and Mac Tanner (DB) on defense.

At Port Allegany, Oct. 15:

Score by quarters:
Sheffield Wolverines 0 0 0 0 0
Port Allegany Gators 8 8 16 8 40

Scoring summary:
First Quarter
PA (6:49) – Mac Tanner 50 punt return; Josiah Ramadhan run, 8-0
Second Quarter
PA (3:13) – Nate Lowery 1 run (8 plays, 76 yards, 3:40); Tanner pass from Bryan Stahlman, 16-0
Third Quarter
PA (8:24) – Dylan Baumgarner 16 pass from Tre Garzel (3 plays, 22 yards after turnover on downs, 0:52); Ethan Budd run, 24-0
PA (5:29) – Ramadhan 40 run (1 play, 40 yards, 0:11); Lowery run, 32-0
Fourth Quarter
PA (8:31) – Baumgarner 6 run (4 plays, 21 yards, 1:46); Garzel run, 40-0

Team Statistics: Sheffield Port A
First downs 7 15
Rushes-Yards 35-34 31-235
Comp-Att-Int 3-16-0 7-14-1
Passing Yards 16 65
Total Yards 50 300
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 1-0
Punts-Avg. 9-28.7 3-33.0
Penalties-Yards 12-88 7-72
Total Plays 51 49
Time of poss. 28:42 19:18

Individual statistics:
Rushing:
Sheffield – Myquandre Stevenson 20 carries-45 yards, Demon Dunning 8-38, Shawn McCullough 2-(-1), Cale Albaugh 3-(-19), team 2-(-29). Port Allegany – Josiah Ramadhan 5-68 (TD), Jordan Seefeldt 6-66, Mac Tanner 10-56, Dylan Baumgarner 4-30 (TD), Tre Garzel 2-13, Nate Lowery 1-1 (TD), Wyatt Dean 2-1, Jared Mahon 1-0.
Passing: Sheffield – Albaugh 3 completions-16 attempts-0 interceptions-16 yards. Port Allegany – Seefeldt 5-9-1-37, Garzel 2-5-0-28 (TD).
Receiving: Sheffield – Dunning 3 catches-16 yards. Port Allegany – Baumgarner 2-28 (TD), Tanner 3-23, Garzel 1-8, Mahon 1-6.

(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)