Weekly Feature

2018-10-10 / Sports

Tonawanda football shut out by Fredonia


Tonawanda’s playoff hopes were extinguished Friday when the Warriors lost to Fredonia-Brocton 22-0. The team played well at times but was unable to take advantage of opportunities on offense.

“I thought we played pretty good; we were up against a pretty good team,” Tonawanda coach Joe Kelly said. “A couple things could have gone our way. There were a couple dropped passes. All in all, we played pretty good. We had situations where we put ourselves in the positive things. But we didn’t finish. It is still a learning for us. We’re still getting better and hopefully, we can put it together this week.”

The Hillbillies ran for more than 200 yards, controlling the ground game. The Tonawanda offense did move the ball, but Fredonia was able to get stops when it mattered.

“We moved the ball respectably,” Kelly said. “We did a decent job on defense. The offense did a pretty good job. Their running back came back and he ran for over 200 yards. He’s tough to stop. He’s a good player. It’s going to be a heck of a game between Fredonia and Dunkirk.”

One key issue was the surface made it difficult for Tonawanda to run the ball. The slippery surface caused some problems for a Warriors’ run game that is built on cutting.

“We had big plays that were lined up in this game,” Kelly said. “But our running backs fell. The playing surface wasn’t conducive to our backs. Our backs cut; we have cut-back backs. Their field was something we haven’t played on in two years. Their running game was straight ahead; there was no cutting. We have a zone-blocking scheme where our backs pick a hole and then they cut back. We don’t have big linemen; we don’t have smash-mouth guys. We have guys who cut back. I think that was a big negative for us.”

Kelly believes the game against the undefeated Hillbillies was made even more difficult by the fact that the team suffered a tough loss to Eden last week and has a rivalry game against North Tonawanda next week.

“It was partially a hangover from losing to Eden,” Kelly said. “This being between the Eden game and TNT game hurt. I think if we would have pulled out the Eden game, then who knows?”

The team is now moving on to Friday’s rivalry game, which will be held at Tonawanda at 6 p.m. The Warriors will also be hosting the annual luncheon this year, which is something that has not happened in a long time.

“Our kids are excited, obviously,” Kelly said. “We have some cool things going on. Something we haven’t done since I’ve been around the TNT game is the luncheon is actually going to be hosted by Tonawanda this year. It’s always been in North Tonawanda as long as I remember. The luncheon was always hosted in NT. This year, our superintendent stepped up and said ‘why not have the home team host it?’ So we get to host it this year in our backyard and I think that’s pretty cool.”

The Lumberjacks have a strong run game, which Kelly expects them to put to use Friday. They’ll be prepared, but North Tonawanda is a much larger school than Tonawanda. It’s a Class A school that has won every version of this game for a decade and a half.

“We just gave up more than 200 yards rushing this week,” Kelly said. “Why wouldn’t they try to run on us? Their a run-heavy team, and we’re going to be expecting it. They’re not going to go away from what they do. I don’t expect that at all. We’ll be prepared for play action and stuff like that and backs to come out of the backfield and sneaky little things. I ran the triple option, so I know how it runs and how to defend it. I believe we can do it.

“That school has triple the boys we have. It’s David vs. Goliath. We’re going to go out and play as hard as we can. I feel honored to be able to coach against a guy who won a state championship in Eric Jantzi. That staff knows what it’s doing. Hopefully, we can get a couple of breaks and keep it close and move forward.”

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