2015-PRESS-SPARTANS CRUISE TO 54th STRAIGHT WIN
Written by Robert Centorani
Maine-Endwell's football juggernaut extended its state-record winning streak to 54 games with a thoroughly dominating performance Saturday against Susquehanna Valley.
No sense pinning the 62-6 Section 4 Football Conference non-division victory on what the Sabers failed to do. No, this one was all about what the Spartans did do.
They ran, blocked, tackled, covered and executed at a level that simply couldn't be matched by an SV bunch that lost, 13-6, to the Spartans in a Section 4 Class B semifinal last season.
On the third play from scrimmage, the Spartans scored a defensive touchdown. By the 3:02 mark of the first quarter, their lead was 21 points. By halftime, it grew to 29 points and by the midway point of the third quarter, their reserves showed their talents.
Thirty-three players in white-and-blue uniforms displayed precisely why this program has won four consecutive state championships.
"Maine-Endwell is a factory and they've been a factory for many years now," SV coach Mike Ford said.
The machinery in the plant on Farm-to-Market Road routinely churns out high-quality athletes with a high IQ for opening holes, running to daylight, finding ball carriers and sniffing out ill-advised passes.
"We all trust each other and we have a lot of confidence in our drives," said senior quarterback Kyle Balmer, who scored three touchdowns before halftime.
Senior Drew Gallagher also scored three touchdowns, the first coming on an interception he returned 37 yards for a score on SV's opening drive. Gallagher snared quarterback Cameron Manchester's pass near the left sideline, darted through an opening and headed for the end zone. It appeared Manchester stripped Gallagher before he crossed the goal line, but no matter as Gallagher's teammate, Micah Miller, recovered the ball in the end zone. The officials seemed to indicate that Gallagher had crossed into the end zone before losing the ball. With Alec Greene's PAT, M-E held a 7-0 lead 1:29 into the game.
"He saw it, he attacked it, he closed on it and then he got into the end zone," M-E coach Matt Gallagher said of his son's play.
Following a going-nowhere possession by the Sabers, M-E drove 55 yards in five plays, the first a Balmer-to-Michael Palmer completion that covered 35 yards along the right sideline. Gallagher capped the drive with an 8-yard scoring run after receiving an pitch from Balmer and a huge block from Palmer that allowed him to score untouched into the right corner of the end zone.
Another punt after three plays gave the ball back to M-E at midfield. Two plays later, Balmer scored on a 52-yard run, an option keeper to the left side that broke wide open. When John Cerra followed with a two-point run, the Spartans led, 21-0, with 3:02 to play in the first quarter.
Back-to-back plays late in the first quarter marked the lone silver lining for the Sabers. First, Tim Hawley picked off a Balmer pass and SV took over at its 25. Then Brandon Vosbury came in motion right, took a hand-off from Manchester, squeezed through a hole on the right side and raced 75 yards down the middle of the field for a touchdown. Vosbury finished with 93 rushing yards.
But M-E (3-0) responded with a 56-yard scoring drive that started with gains of 21 and 12 yards by powerful fullback Cordell Woolfolk and ended with a 23-yard touchdown run by Balmer, who scored again later in the half as the Spartans took a 35-6 lead.
Defensively, senior linebacker Brady Wisniewski had a huge game for M-E, using his physical 6-foot-2, 203-pound frame to deal out punishment to SV rushers.
"They do an awesome job," Wisniewski said of M-E's defensive line. "It's so much easier to run to the ball if there's not someone coming right at you. (The defensive line does) their assignments and we do ours, and it works out in the end."
Gallagher, Kevin Barrett, Andrew Grassi and Shane Bryant contributed touchdown runs in the second half for the Spartans, who rolled up 492 yards on the ground.
On twitter: @PSBRob