BY PAUL LIOTTI
The final week of the regular season is upon us, and with the new Power Seeding Points system, nothing is chiseled in stone at this point.
There will be a lot of jockeying going on especially for the coveted home game which goes to the top four seeds in each class. A lot is going to be decided in the final 48 minutes of the season.
Here’s our look at the top games, with a complete slate of contest added in for good measure.
East (6-0) @ McQuaid (5-1), 7 pm, Friday
Two state-ranked teams.
A league championship.
One team scores points in bunches, the other is as miserly with allowing points as Ebenezer Scrooge is on Christmas Eve.
Something’s got to give in a game for all the marbles when East travels to McQuaid with the RCAC title on the line.
The Eagles, ranked 23rd in the New York State Sportswriters Association’s latest Class A poll, comes into the game with a defense that tops Section V by allowing just 5.2 points per game. They also are putting their Section-leading 10-game win streak on the line.
“Absolutely, there is a lot on the line in this game,” said McQuaid coach Bobby Bates. “That was our message to the team this week: You are playing for a championship and when you do, you have to expect the best effort from your opponent.”
McQuaid, is the three-time defending RCAC champion and is ranked 13th in the NYSSWA Class AA poll and has been scoring at a 37.8 point per game clip. The Knights haven’t lost in the RCAC action since 2015. A win by either team will push it to the League title, something the Knights are trying to do for the fourth-consecutive year.
The outcome will also go a long way in also slotting each team in their respective Sectional seeding classifications for next week’s playoffs. A win for either team could vault it into one of the top 2 seeds. A loss by McQuaid could force the Knights to play round 1 on the road. Other things have to break for East to drop out of the top 4 even with a loss.
McQuaid will have to contend with speedy athletic offensive players such as QB Anthony Gilbert, WRs Seven McGee and Mike Gilbert, and RB Freddy Brock who are a threat to score anytime they touch the ball. Additionally, bruising RB Deljon Johnson will be a handful for the Knights.
“I think our schedule has prepared us very well to face a team like East,” Bates said. “Canisius, St. Joe’s and Aquinas were very similar teams, and East also has playmakers all around the field. They have a very big line that pushes people around.”
East’s defensive game plan will be to slow down the balanced West-Coast offense Bates employs. It starts with QB Hunter Walsh who coolly picks apart defenses hitting sure-handed receivers Ben Beauchamp or Connor Zamiara, while all-purpose back Mark Passero anchors a solid running game.
“We’ve in this arena before, competing for a championship: Last year our last game was against Wilson (a 10-8 Knight win) and that game too was for the RCAC title,” Bates said. “This is a big test for us, but we are battle-tested and are embracing this game and what it means.”
This year East has regained the City School throne and will be looking to take the next step in their ascension — owning the RCAC title. But the Knights have the tools to make that difficult.
We will know by 10 pm tonight.
Alexander (6-0) @ Perry-Mount Morris (4-2), 7:30 pm, Friday in Perry
The biggest game in Class D this weekend pits a game Perry-Mount Morris team against a very tough, talented Alexander squad.
There’s a lot on the line in this one as well, but perhaps more so for Perry-Mount Morris. With a win, P-MM would jump into one of the top 4 slots, which would give it a home game in the first round of Sectionals. A win will lock Alexander into the first seed in next week’s playoffs, but a loss would more than likely drop it to no worse than second.
“This is a very important game for us,” P-MM coach Jim Dueppengiesser said. “We’re really trying to get a home game in Sectionals, which hasn’t happened around here in a long time.”
Twenty-two years in fact.
On paper, the Trojans may not look as though they have been challenged, having run through their schedule en route to a NYSSWA No. 2 state ranking.
“We played a tough Notre Dame team and beat a Class B team (Bishop Timon) this year, so we have seen our share of good teams,” Alexander coach Tim Sawyer said. “But Perry-Mount Morris will be a challenge because they are a lot like us: They have great athletes are big across the line and their coaching staff has done a great job getting them to where they are right now. They flow very well to the ball and tackle solid.”
Alexander does it on both sides of the ball: It is the Section’s highest-scoring offense (47.0 per game), thanks to averaging over 400 yards per game (316 yards rushing and 91 passing). The Trojans also own Sections’ second-stingiest scoring defense (7.8 per game), a fact that the team takes great pride in.
“For the last 6 years we have finished in the top 10 in points allowed, and we emphasize defense. We have a great defensive coordinator (Matt McCraken) who always develops a great defensive game plan,” Sawyer said.
Perry-Mount Morris will have its work cut out for it, not only keeping Alexander out of the end zone, but stopping an offense that is led by second-year signal caller Dylan Bush (24-for-46 passing, 500 yards, 9 touchdowns) who was all-league first-team QB last year as a sophomore. Sophomore RB Terez Smith will be filling in for injured starter Chris McClinic who is out with an injury. Last week, Smith rushed for 216 yards on 20 carries and scored 4 touchdowns in a convincing 26-6 win over Notre Dame.
“They have tremendous team speed, a lot talented players and are extremely well coached,” said second-year man Dueppengiesser.
Perry-Mount Morris counters with healthy starters, especially TE/DE Ben Snell and RB/LB Blake Wolfinger who were both out in the 33-0 loss to Canisteo-Greenwood in Week 5. P-MM averages 25.7 points on offense, while limiting its opponents to 17.8.
“We did pretty well without those two, but they are top players on my team so having them back is definitely good for us,” said Dueppengiesser.
Both teams are very familiar with each other, as they squared off in the preseason several times – three times in 7-on-7 workouts and one time in a scrimmage.
“We are very familiar with each other and hopefully that will translate well in the game,” Dueppengiesser said. “But they can beat you in a number of different ways, so it will be a challenge.”
Other top games to keep an eye on this week:
University Prep (5-1) @ Honeoye Falls-Lima (5-1), 1:30 pm, Saturday
Each team has clinched a spot in the upcoming playoffs, but this game has huge implications as the winner will be in the drivers’ seat for a home game in the Class B Sectionals next week.
Honeoye Falls-Lima is one of the hottest teams in the Section, regardless of classification and has won five-straight games. UPrep (NYSSWA No. 28) was humming along until it ran into East last week and lost 32-6. HF-L upset Greece Arcadia last week 26-14 to drop the Titans out of the ranks of the undefeated.
UPrep doesn’t put up gaudy team numbers, but its balance gets the job done. It averages 196 yards rushing and 82 yards passing per game, thanks to the legs of Cassius Facen (99.6 yards/game) and the arm of Justin Wyatt (19-34, 384 yards and 5 scores).
HF-L is led by RB Mason Ferrara who can pound out the yards or threaten to score from the outside. Last week against Greece Arcadia Ferrara accounted for 239 total yards of offense. Junior signal-caller Turner Wilson can pick apart a defense with his arm or his legs as he scored from 32 yards out against Arcadia.
The best of the rest:
Brighton @ Hilton, 7 pm
Brockport @ Irondequoit, 7 pm
Fairport @ Penfield, 7 pm
Gates-Chili @ Webster Schroeder, 7 pm
Greece Olympia/Odyssey @ Victor, 7 pm
Rush-Henrietta @ Pittsford, 7 pm
Canandaigua @ Churchville-Chili, 7:30 pm
Greece Arcadia @ Eastridge, 7:30 pm
East @ McQuaid, 7 pm
Alexander @ Perry-Mount Morris, 7:30 pm
Cuba-Rushford @ Canisteo-Greenwood, 7:30 pm
Hornell @ Livonia, 7:30 pm
Letchworth/Warsaw @ Avon, 7:30 pm
Notre Dame-Batavia @ Bolivar-Richburg, 7:30 pm
Wayland-Cohocton @ Le Roy, 7:30 pm
Wellsville @ Cal-Mum/Byron-Bergen, 7:30 pm
York/Pavilion @ Pembroke, 7:30 pm
Clyde-Savannah @ Lyons, 7 pm
East Rochester-Gananda @ Palmyra-Macedon, 7 pm
Geneva @ Waterloo, 7 pm
Newark @ Wayne, 7 pm
Penn Yan @ Midlakes, 7 pm
Monroe @ Webster Thomas, 7 pm
Spencerport @ Greece Athena, 2 pm
Wilson @ Edison Tech, 1 pm
Batavia @ Bath-Haverling, 1:30 pm
Geneseo @ Attica, 7:30 pm
S.Seneca/Romulus/Trumansburg @ Red Jacket, 1 pm
Dansville @ Dundee, 1 pm
University Prep @ Honeoye Falls-Lima, 1:30 pm
BK/Rochester Prep @Leadership, 2 pm
Aquinas @ St. Francis (VI), 7 pm
Marcus Whitman @ Oakfield-Alabama/Elba, 1:30 pm
Finney/Northstar@ Holley, 1:30 pm