KANE WOLVES (1-0)
PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (0-1)
Sept. 1, 2016
Friday night’s Allegheny Mountain Football League season opener marked the third consecutive time that Kane showed up on Port Allegany’s schedule, following the Wolves’ back-to-back wins in last year’s AML championship game and the first round of the district playoffs.
Given the results, no one could blame the Gators if they didn’t want to see their cross-county visitors again any time soon.
While the Port program is in full rebuilding mode with just three starters returning from last year’s 6-5 squad, the two-time defending District 9 Class A champions, who moved back up to Class AA this season, brought back a solid core featuring Big 30 All-Stars Erik Delong and Toby Fox along with several other key contributors from their 2015 state playoff run.
The contrast was stark under the lights at “The Swamp.” Led by Delong’s 159 rushing yards and four touchdowns — all before halftime — Kane rolled to a 70-0 victory, the most points ever scored against the Port High varsity. It was their sixth consecutive win in the series, which now stands 21-13 in favor of the Wolves.
“Great start,” head coach Todd Silfies said. “We were sloppy at times early on, but give credit to our guys to not let little bumps in the road get us down. Great team effort.
“I give Port Allegany a lot of credit too,” he added. “They’ve got a lot of new kids out on the field today, and those kids didn’t quit fighting, in particular their quarterback (senior Daniel Jordan, who missed almost all of the last two seasons due to injury). He was still leading their team down the field at the end. Kids like that, they’re going to get better every week, and they’re going to do things.”
Citing Port’s five-game AML North winning streak which secured the division title and a D-9 playoff berth, he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw something similar to last year from those guys.”
Despite losing twin terrors Shane (2,143 total yards, 28 touchdowns) and Tyler (1,691 yards, 19 TDs) Rolick to graduation, Kane picked up right where it left off last December. With a veteran offensive line blasting open holes for Delong and fullback Austin Labesky, the Wolves scored each time they had the ball and piled up 562 yards of offense while the defense forced four turnovers and allowed just 119 total yards and nine first downs, much of that in the second half.
“I’ve been watching AML football since I was eight years old, back in Johnsonburg and then moving here, and in my lifetime the Rolick boys were as good as anybody,” Port coach Justin Bienkowski said. “For them to come back like that after losing those guys … (coordinator) Tyler Smith on offense, Todd on defense, coach Sirianni on the line, all the role coaches they have, it’s a class program. Regardless of the score, they deserved to win and they did.”
A long kickoff return by Frank Truden set up a 19-yard burst by Labesky for Kane’s first score just 1:06 into the game, but Gator junior Trey Stiles came oh-so-close to matching it on the ensuing kickoff. Picking up the loose ball at his own 10, Stiles found a seam up the middle of the field and raced all the way to the Kane 11 before the Wolves’ Ray Maze finally managed to track him down for the touchdown-saving tackle.
Port couldn’t cash in on the opportunity, though, turning the ball over on downs at the 10, and the Wolves set off on a 90-yard march in the other direction capped by Delong’s first foray into the end zone.
“That was nice to have our backs against the wall and kind of learn from it,” Silfies said.
From there, with Kane using its size and strength to dominate the line of scrimmage, the game settled into a pattern: the overmatched Gators struggling to move past their own 40-yard line before giving the ball up via punt or turnover, followed by another Wolves scoring drive. By the time Delong closed out the first half with his fourth touchdown run of the night and kicker Joe Johnson added his seventh successful extra point, Kane led 49-0 and the third quarter began under the PIAA mercy rule.
“We told the kids at halftime to try to start finding little successes, whether it’s four-yard gains or first downs or completed passes or six points. Just trying to set realistic little goals, let the kids taste some success,” Bienkowski said, “because we have one heck of a bitter taste in our mouths right now.”
With the Wolves starters on the sideline after another short scoring drive to open the second half, the Port offense finally started finding some traction, driving deep into Kane territory on three successive possessions. Long runs by Wyatt Dean (13 carries-63 yards) and Stiles (14-87) on back-to-back plays set up first-and-goal midway through the third quarter, but once again, the Gators were turned away on a fourth-down stop.
Kane backup quarterback Jake Alcorn capped the scoring with a pair of long fourth-quarter touchdown sprints, with the speedy freshman getting to the edge and outrunning the tired Gator defenders down the sideline.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t say, absolutely 100 percent credit to Kane football. Once again they showed their year-round commitment to the sport,” Bienkowski said, mentioning his appreciation to his counterpart for “keeping it classy” as the score mounted. “That’s very important, because it teaches kids that you stay humble when you’re good, you stay classy when you’re good, and you stay humble in defeat. I told our kids, there’s a lot of lessons there.”
Crediting Jordan and fellow captains TyDel Green, Jesse Rush, and Jake Kallenborn for keeping the team together, he added, “I wouldn’t want to single any one person out; all 28 kids saw time tonight, and they all gave us what they had.
“Ultimately, I’m proud of our guys. They played a game as hard as they could. At the end of the day, it’s a game, and it taught them some lessons. They took a huge slice of humble pie tonight, and ate it in one gulp. They’re going to wake up sore tomorrow. But I told them, ‘Just guarantee me, promise me you’ll come back on Monday — that’s all we can ask from them — and try to get better.’”
NEXT UP: Port faces the combined Ridgway/Johnsonburg programs in another AML crossover game, with kickoff at Memorial Field in Johnsonburg slated for 7 p.m. Friday evening. The Gators are 11-9-1 all-time, 10-6-1 in the AML against the Elkers (including a 19-14 victory in the 1988 championship game, their only postseason meeting) and hold a current five-game winning streak in the series.
At Port Allegany, Aug. 26:
|Score by quarters:|
|Port Allegany Gators||0||0||0||0||–||0|
K – Austin Labesky 19 run (3 plays, 29 yards, 1:06); Joe Johnson kick, 7-0
K – Erik DeLong 4 run (11 plays, 90 yards, 4:19); Johnson kick, 14-0
K – Frank Truden 70 run (1 play, 70 yards, 0:12); Johnson kick, 21-0
K – DeLong 5 run (4 plays, 24 yards, 0:12); Johnson kick, 28-0
K – DeLong 20 run (4 plays, 46 yards, 0:59); Johnson kick, 35-0
K – Truden 65 pass from Reed Williams (4 plays, 78 yards, 1:43); Johnson kick, 42-0
K – DeLong 39 run (2 plays, 32 yards, 0:46); Johnson kick, 49-0
K – Labesky 18 run (2 plays, 18 yards, 0:57); Johnson kick, 56-0
K – Jake Alcorn 73 run (8 plays, 95 yards, 6:06); Johnson kick, 63-0
K – Alcorn 43 run (2 plays, 70 yards, 1:05); Johnson kick, 70-0
|Team Statistics:||Kane||Port A|
|Time of poss.||17:13||30:47|
Rushing: Kane – Erik Delong 14-159 (4 TD), Jake Alcorn 5-144 (2 TD), Frank Truden 2-70 (TD), Austin Labesky 4-49 (2 TD), Aiden Hulings 3-39, Ange Costanzo 1-6, Devin Young 1-3, Reed Williams 2-(-12). Port Allegany – Trey Stiles 13-86, Wyatt Dean 13-63, Devin Gustin 5-(-9), Daniel Jordan 9-(-20), team 1-(-11).
Passing: Kane – Williams 5-8-0-120 (1 TD). Port Allegany – Jordan 3-9-2-11.
Receiving: Kane – Truden 1-65, Davis Gardner 3-41, Ray Maze 1-14. Port Allegany – Isaac Smoker 1-6, Dean 1-3, Jared Mahon 1-2.
(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)