The Strollo show
By: Liam Hoffmann
BROCKPORT, NY--- The Section V Football Class C champion was decided Saturday night at Bob Boozer Field when the Le Roy Oatkan Knights defeated the Attica/Alexander Blue Devils 27-14. When these two teams faced off earlier in the season, the Blue Devils entered the game as the first-ranked team in New York State Class C. However, someone forgot to tell LeRoy that, as the Knights beat them 44-27. Tonight, they got it done again.
Le Roy's head coach Mike Humphrey is only in his first season with the program. He brings the school the ultimate result, a sectional championship.
"[Humphrey] brought intensity, he brought love, he brought brotherhood, and we love him for that," Le Roy running back and game MVP Andrew Strollo said.
Absent on the field for Attica/Alexander was star running back Landyn Thomas. Throughout the contest, he was seen on the sideline nursing a lower-body injury. In place of Thomas, Sam Strzelec got much of the work at running back. Quarterback Trent Woods, however, became the primary runner as the game progressed.
Early on, Blue Devil Cole Harding was extremely impactful from his defensive end spot in containing the offensive attack of Le Roy. An early sequence saw him as the first defender to the ball on short yardage second, third, and fourth down spots for the Knights offense. The turnover-on-downs ultimately set up the game's first score, a Joseph Parkhurst field goal that put Attica/Alexander up 3-0 early.
There were very few punts in the game. Both sides were frequently content to keep their offense on the field on fourth down.
From the first Knights series, it was clear the offense was to run through Strollo. In the September game between these two squads, it was another LeRoy back in Tony Piazza who poured in, scoring four touchdowns and eclipsing 100 yards. Tonight, Piazza did find the end zone twice, but both came on the end of drives that featured bell-cow work from Strollo. Strollo found success running inside and outside behind his forceful offensive line.
"Punch 'em in the mouth," Strollo said. "We felt like we were a better team, and we wanted to showcase what we had. We got written off earlier in the season, and we didn't wanna write back to 'em."
The first touchdown of the game was Strollo's lone score. He punched it in from four yards out behind motion man and lead blocker Jackson Fix. On the ensuing drive, Strzelec had the football punched out of his grasp by none other than Strollo, playing some linebacker.
The Knights seldom looked to the air to move offensively. When quarterback Thomas Condidorio did throw, it was generally in play-action bootleg concepts that got him out of the pocket. On the other hand, Attica/Alexander looked to the passing game often. A combination of intense LeRoy pressure and Woods not being on the same page as his receivers made this passing attack inconsistent. Many pass calls in the latter portions of the game saw Woods scrambling rather than throwing.
One of Condidorio's few passes was an interception by Harding on 4th down with 1:45 to play in half number one. Curiously, Blue Devils head coach Jeff Cusmano opted against aggression in this spot. While the drive started near midfield, two runs were called to start it, followed by an incompletion that set up one of the game's only punts. The resulting Knights drive killed the first half clock.
In the second half, Knights defensive lineman Daniel O'Geen made his presence felt. His work on early downs led to long third-down situations in which Woods and the Blue Devils struggled. Many times when Woods would uncork one the receiver seemed not to be expecting it. Woods was visually frustrated in these moments.
"Every play we hit as hard as we can," O'Geen said. "We leave it all on the field, and we try to make plays every time. We don't give up."
A 40-yard run by Strollo, where he showed major burst to get to the sideline, saw him be shoved out at the one-yard line before Piazza finished the job. A failed two-point conversion attempt left Le Roy ahead 13-3.
Another Parkhurst field goal moved the score back to a one-possession disparity. With eight minutes left, Condidorio completed a key pass-off play-action to Strollo that moved the sticks and kept the clock moving. Two and a half minutes later, Piazza once more punched it in from short yardage.
The rest of the way was almost all Le Roy. With a late lead, Condidorio scored on a quarterback keeper and extended the lead to 21. Attica's offense was stagnant until the final minute when a Hail Mary attempt was tipped into the arms of Strzelec for the game's last touchdown. With zeroes on the clock, the score was 27-14.
The Knights advance to the state tournament which will begin next weekend. The Blue Devils' season ends with an ultimate 9-2 record.