2015 PRESS - M-E SETS RECORD BEFORE STAR-STUDDED CAST
written by Rob Centorani
PRESS & SUN 10\3\2015
Well, not much happened Friday night at Spartan Stadium.
Sure, Maine-Endwell won its 56th straight game to break a New York state record that had stood since the Eisenhower administration, doing so in a 45-30 Section 4 Football Conference Division II win over Johnson City.
And yes, Pro Football Hall of Famers Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis patrolled the hosts' sideline, along with Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Cowher and former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Chris Hoke.
Oh, and Johnson City graduate and current Tennessee Titans defensive lineman Daquan Jones also attended.
Not to mention that Maine-Endwell graduate, film producer and Steelers part owner Thomas Tull had his No. 9 retired — a digit he wore for baseball and football for the Spartans — before the game.
"Coach Cowher gave the best pre-game speech before the game," M-E senior running back John Cerra of Cowher, who steered the Steelers to a Super Bowl title in 2006. "That's one moment I'll never forget."
Cerra added that 20 years from now, when telling his children about this winning streak in which he’s played an important role, that he'll need to save his newspaper clippings.
"Absolutely not," Cerra said, when asked if thought his future offspring would believe all that these Spartans have accomplished.
It's spanned four-plus seasons and included four state championships.
Even Harris, who played at Penn State for Joe Paterno and helped the Steelers to four Super Bowl championships in the 1970s, sounded impressed.
"It's an unbelievable feat," he said. "I take my hat off to the players, the coaches and everybody. To have something like this happen that spans so many years, that takes a lot. It really does. It's quite impressive."
Thing is, the Wildcats (2-3, 1-1) didn't seem to care about any of it. They clearly didn't get the memo that this was supposed to be a celebratory night for the Spartans.
Midway through the second quarter, Dominic Nadz scored his second rushing touchdown of the night, a 2-yard plunge, and followed with the two-point conversion run as JC took a 16-15 lead with 6 minutes, 7 seconds left in the first half.
As one might expect from a squad so used to winning, the Spartans (5-0, 2-0) answered immediately.
It started with and 81-yard drive that took seven plays.
Quarterback Kyle Balmer raced for 26 yards on a keeper left on the first play. A play later, Cerra scooted 19 yards around the left side. Cerra finished the march on a 16-yard scoring run around the left end, beating Nadz to the corner of the end zone. Balmer's two-point run made it 23-16, 3:37 before halftime.
JC went three-and-out on its next possession and M-E took over at its 19 with about 1:30 left in the half.
Aided by a 15-yard pass interference penalty — one of 16 flags for 155 yards against JC — the Spartans drove to JC's 15, calling timeout with 17.4 seconds left in the half.
Balmer then rolled left and threw a strike to Drew Gallagher, who somehow managed to keep a foot inbounds as he caught the dart on the left sideline, about a yard deep into the end zone. Cerra's two-point run gave the Spartans a 31-16 halftime lead.
"Their quarterback made a great play," JC coach Fred Deinhardt said. "As a coach, you don't want to give up a score just before halftime."
This one was all but sealed when M-E drove 65 yards for a score, a drive that bridged the third and fourth quarters. Fullback Scott Clark, subbing for the injured Cordell Woolfolk, had the big play, a 25-yard run up the gut on which he dragged several JC defenders along the way. Clark, a bruising 5-foot-11, 229-pounder, finished with 23 carries for a game-high 133 yards.
"Scotty played fantastic," said M-E coach Matt Gallagher, adding he expects Woolfolk to be ready this coming week against Syracuse Corcoran. "It's next man up. That's another thing about this streak, we've had some major injuries, but guys step up."
Micah Miller capped it by running through one tackle attempt after receiving an option pitch from Balmer en route to a 21-yard scoring run along the left sideline. Balmer's two-point pass to Gallagher made it 39-16, with 9:59 left. Thereafter, JC's Kenny Johns hauled a perfectly thrown ball from Jake Thompson on a 51-yard scoring play, Cerra had a 5-yard touchdown run for M-E, and Thompson capped the Wildcats' final drive with a 1-yard scoring run.
M-E's 56-game streak broke a tie with a Massena squad that went 54-0-1 over a 9-year span, a streak that ended in 1957.
"Obviously, consistency has to be the word," Gallagher said. "We've had players consistent in what they do and that allows to have a streak that lasts for five years."
On Twitter: @PSBRob