By Chuck Pollock, Olean Times Herald
Reprinted with permission from the Olean Times Herald
If there was any question which of the eight Section 6 Class D football teams was the front-runner, at least as this season edges to the halfway point, it was emphatically answered on Friday night.
Franklinville/Ellicottville went to the home field of defending champion, Maple Grove, and on a mild September evening, dominated the Red Dragons, 26-6.
And, even at that, the score was misleading.
The Titans (3-0) surrendered a mere 20 yards of total offense heading into the fourth quarter with a 26-0 lead en route to a 324-84 edge in offensive yardage.
F/E senior quarterback Brock Blecha rushed for three touchdowns (6, 1 and 13 yards) and finished with 70 yards on 20 carries.
But it was his arm that impressed both coaches.
Blecha hit 16-of-22 throws for 180 yards and at one point logged an un-high-school-like 15 straight completions.
The Titans were held to 31 rushing yards in the first half – 25 of those on a fake punt – but Blecha loosened the Maple Grove defense by hitting 12-of-15 passes before intermission and running for two of his touchdowns for a 14-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Red Dragons (2-1) ran a mere 13 first-half plays for those 20 yards.
“Our defensive staff was on-point … they were all over it,” Franklinville/Ellicottville coach Chad Bartoszek said. “We spent a lot of time dissecting. You’ve got to give credit to our first defense and our second offense for giving us that good look … the scout look. And when these guys are keyed up, they’re pretty good. We’ve got a great coaching staff and we put in a lot of work for this game and the players, when they execute it, look good.”
MAPLE GROVE’S Curt Fischer, one of the state’s top Class D coaches, agreed.
“We’re young and we showed it … I think that experience over there (on the opposite sideline) really pays off for them and we even felt that last year (despite beating F/E 43-12 in the regular season and 33-6 in the sectional playoffs),” he said.
“When you can’t put up any kind of scout team to duplicate their speed, that’s tough. I told my kids, ‘You’re going to have to get used to the speed difference. And Blecha is just unbelievable … he was, by far, the best player on the field tonight. He’s in total command of the game and when you have a kid like that … that’s hard to stop.”
Meanwhile, Bartoszek was relieved to get a key win in a difficult environment.
“It’s tough to come to a place like this and win and get that monkey off our back,” he said.
“(But) we’re gonna have to clean up some stuff on the line. This is one of those games where, if a couple of pass plays don’t go our way, it’s a battle. We’re going to keep our heads on us … this isn’t the swan song, we’ve got a long way to go.”
He also admitted, “Last week was a good test for us (36-19 win over South Allegheny at Meadville, Pa.) with that speed because (Maple Grove) is a fast team.
“This is one of those wins that’s definitely going to do something for our program because those losses (to Maple Grove) last year were pretty difficult to swallow. It doesn’t mean anything in the long run … we’ve still got to stay healthy and finish what we started and that’s the pressure that comes from winning.”
But, at least for now, Franklinville/Ellicottville – which got 14 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown from senior running back Griffin Chudy – is the elite team in Class D.
However, as Fischer noted, “They wore us down … but we did stop the run for quite awhile. “The world’s not going to come to an end tonight, the season’s not over. We’re going to work our butts off and hopefully we’ll be the best two teams at the end in our division.”
And see each other again in the Section 6 playoffs.
AT BEMUS POINT
Frank./Ell. 0 14 12 0 — 26
M. Grove 0 0 0 6 — 6
Frank./Ellicott. — Brock Blecha 6 run (68 yards,10 plays); kick blocked, 6-0
Frank./Ellicott. — Blecha 1 run (87 yards, 15 plays), Sam Erickson pass from Blecha, 14-0
Frank./Ellicott. — Griffin Chudy 2 run (62 yards, 9 plays); kick failed, 20-0