By KEVIN OKLOBZIJA
When the Spencerport Rangers opened the Section V football season last week, junior wingback Brenten Sheffield was hardly the featured weapon out of the backfield.
In the first four Rangers possessions, Greece Olympia/Odyssey faced a steady diet of Joe Marcello and Cam Mesh while Sheffield had just two touches, although one of those carries was a seven-yard touchdown run.
Of course, when the coaching staff has a stable of runners they trust to get the job done with the ball, the opponent is never really sure who is getting the ball.
Like on Friday night against visiting East High, when Spencerport’s first touch went to Sheffield, who sprinted 48 yards untouched to give the Rangers a 7-0 lead just 2:10 into the game.
By the time they reached halftime, Sheffield had carried just six times but amassed 126 yards with scoring jaunts of 48, 53 and 6 yards as Spencerport (2-0) rolled to a 34-12 victory over the Eagles (1-1).
Marcello scampered 26 yards for a touchdown, one of his 13 carries en route to 107 yards rushing, and Mesh scored the Rangers final TD from a yard out with 2:12 left in the third quarter.
“I have a lot of kids that can carry the ball,” Spencerport coach John Dowd said. “Obviously Cam’s always out there and Marcello’s always out there and then we have several kids at wingback that can get the job done and Sheffield is one of them.
“We have a lot of hungry mouths and we’re trying to feed them all.”
The Rangers’ Wing-T offense is confusing enough for opponents, what with the deception and sleight-of-hand right from the snap. But then when the defense can’t key on one ball carrier or even two, well, stopping Spencerport isn’t easy.
“It’s a nice problem to have,” Dowd said.
Indeed, after two weeks, the Rangers have scored 12 rushing touchdowns and piled up 81 points.
On the other side of the ball, their defense has been in control both weeks. The only touchdowns the defense has allowed came in the fourth quarter both weeks. East’s first touchdown on Friday came on a dazzling 93-yard punt return by Marcus Robertson that sliced Spencerport’s lead to 27-6 with 3:27 left in the first half.
The biggest problem for East was early field position. Spencerport forced three-and-outs on the first two possessions and a punishing hit by Sheffield on a fourth down pass kept the Eagles from getting the first down.
Freshman kicker Adriano Palotto had a lot to do it. His first kickoff to start the game resulted in a touchback. His second kickoff was muffed out of bounds at the East 6, and his third created confusion between the return men and the Eagles ended up start at their own 7.
“He’s a big-time weapon,” Dowd said of Palotto, who played on the junior varsity as an eighth-grader and earned the kicking job on the varsity this year.
The Rangers took advantage and scored touchdowns on their first four possessions, and Dowd then thought his team became a little complacent.
“We were very sloppy in the second quarter and we spent halftime talking about how sloppy we were,” he said. “But East didn’t quit and their defense came at us; 57 (sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Franklin) was really impressive.”