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.)

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.”