HS Football: Brown Powers Sparks Past Trojans
Homecoming brought nearly everything to West Seneca East high school Friday night. It brought them a raucous crowd that had their bleachers very close to capacity. It brought them one of the better halftime firework shows you’ll see anywhere.
Regrettably for their football Trojans, homecoming brought everything but a Class-A South regular season title.
Sixth-ranked large school West Seneca East hosted third-ranked large school South Park, with a regular season crown top seed in and top seed in the playoffs as the prize. East fought admirably, particularly in the second half but the Sparks capturing their third consecutive Class-A South regular season title was rarely in serious doubt.
South Park (5-1, 5-0) built up a 21-0 halftime lead that proved insurmountable in their 39-26 victory, though the Trojans (5-1, 5-1) did everything in their power to pull off a miracle second half comeback.
East trailed 27-6 at the end of the third before exploding for 20 points in the final quarter to make the outcome anything but a foregone conclusion.
A comeback wasn’t going to happen on this night for if he wasn’t already a legitimate Player of the Year candidate, Sparks quarterback Tyree Brown surely is now. The senior put on a show few in attendance will forget anytime soon; throwing for a school-record 371 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing 14 times for 114 yards and another score.
“If this doesn’t show it, I don’t know what does.” South Park head coach Tim Delaney said about Brown being in Player of the Year conversation. “He rushed for 150 against Canisius. He didn’t throw it great against Canisius but it was a windy day. Tonight his stats plus the runs—anyone watching knew he was one of the best players on the field, if not the best.”
Brown was particularly overwhelming in the first half as he threw for 155 yards and three scores, two of them Darryl Moore.
(Here's 27 of those yards to Moore)
Moore had a big night himself, catching six balls for 166 yards and two scores.
Brown said the game plan was to come out throwing.
“We knew we had to throw the ball, because they play man (defense) and play one man high and I had to complete a few passes downfield.” Brown said. “I knew I had to make some big plays for my team.”
A 37-yard pass from Brown to Moore accounted for the only touchdown in the first quarter, and the score remained 7-0 until the final four minutes of the half, when West Seneca East turned the ball over twice—on a punt return and handoff. The Sparks made them pay dearly both times, first with Brown hitting Fred Foster for a three-yard score and then hooking up with Moore again for 41 yards just 31 seconds before the half.
The Sparks took a 21-0 lead into the locker room and after East quarterback Austin Breidenstein (158 rushing yards) scored on a 14-yard touchdown early in the third, Brown immediately answered back with a 37-yard strike to Dave Thomas.
Down 27-6 entering the fourth, East fought vigilantly to get back in the game—and to their credit they did. First Joshua Bartz picked up a fumble after Brown was drilled and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown and with 5:40 left to play John Dolac III scored from a yard out and East was only down, 27-18.
One of the best players in Western New York, Dolac didn’t find much success running on the Sparks, but did have a strong game on defense with 14 tackles and a fumble recovery.
“I think as the game went on we got a little worn down with a lot of guys playing both ways,” Delaney said. “They’re a good team. They’re going to make some adjustments and they did.”
To the surprise of absolutely no one in attendance, Brown once again killed the Trojan momentum with a 24-yard touchdown run to put the Sparks back up comfortably.
‘He’s a dynamic player. We kind of depend on him to do some of those things even when it’s not in the plan.” Delaney said.
Breidenstein hit Jalexis Santiago on a touchdown pass and Santiago then ran in the two point conversion to cut it 33-26 with 2:43 left and jar the fans back into a frenzy, but Thomas put the final nail in East’s coffin with a 49-yard touchdown run just 20 seconds later.
Thomas, who had 92 yards rushing and 108 receiving seemed to come up with a big play every time East threatened.
Surely East left the field knowing they made too many mistakes to beat a team of South Park’s caliber. You can’t fall down by 21 two different times to the Sparks and expect to win. Fortunately for them, they may get a shot at redemption down the road. It’s certainly plausible these teams could see each other again in the playoffs—this time at Ralph Wilson Stadium with a Class-A championship on the line.
“They’re a very good team and it wouldn’t surprise me if this isn’t the last time we see them,” Delaney said. “We’re not thinking about that now. We’re thinking about a good Lake Shore team next week and then getting ready for the postseason. We’ll see what happens.”