By TIM IRVING
Syracuse used to call it a “hambone” set, a variation on the wishbone formation with an offensive or defensive lineman lining up at fullback, mostly for goal line situations.
Victor football calls it option number one.
The Blue Devils ran for nearly 300 yards as a team and shut out Hilton 26-0 for their first victory of the season.
Sam Gotham ran for 118 yards on 17 carries for two touchdowns and CJ Palmiere added 102 yards and a score following the lead blocking of 250-pound junior fullback Tyrus Mayo.
“The wishbone set, the big guy in there got some key blocks and let our tailbacks do what they do,” said Victor head coach Geoff Mandile.
The passing game got the Blue Devils on the board in the first quarter as quarterback Matt Brady hit Adam Ruffalo for 24 yards in the back corner of the end zone.
Both teams then took to the ground. Gotham and Trace Letcher for the Cadets. Gotham scored from 12 yards out and Victor led 13-0 at the half.
In the second half, Victor’s defense clamped down on Hilton’s running game, Casey Keohane, Joey Hawryschuk and Devin Pearce combining for 14.5 tackles.
Gotham scored again early in the fourth quarter for a 20-0 lead but it was the combination of Gotham, Palmiere and Mayo that wore the Cadets defense down.
“Last week, we saw that we had two good running backs and we try to get our best eleven on the field and that happened to be a good package for us tonight, “ Mandile said referring to a season-opening 19-12 loss to Aquinas.
The rebound win was completed with a nine-yard score from Palmiere, capping a big victory for the psyche of a young Victor team.
“I think it’s the first time in 12 years we’ve lost an opener so it was an unfamiliar feeling, “ Mandile said. “We’re as inexperienced as we’ve been since I’ve been here so, moving guys along as quickly as we can but we’re getting there.”
It doesn’t get easier for the Blue Devils, who host McQuaid in a rematch of last year’s Class AA Championship next Friday.