PUSHING THROUGH THE LINE — Gowanda’s senior running back Brennen Geiger (right) led his team, running 25 times for 98 yards, in total. Springville took the match 34-0. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — Devin White-Kearns has been looking for a breakout performance. The Springville junior quarterback had that kind of night, scoring 3 touchdowns to lead the Griffins to a 34-0 win against Gowanda on Oct. 25. White-Kearns tossed a 60-yard touchdown pass to Nate Wolcott on Springville’s first play from scrimmage. The option quarterback added a 20-yard touchdown run and an 8-yard strike to Andy Suffoletto, in the win.
“I think you saw the maturation of a young quarterback,” said Springville interim head coach Rob Valenti. “He brought a calmness to the game. He wasn’t tight, he wasn’t loose; he just had really nice balance. He was focused and locked in.”
White-Kearns was the catalyst to a Springville offense that racked up a season-high 344 total yards; with 251 yards coming on the ground, as the Griffins averaged 6 yards, per carry.
“It was about creating a balance of wanting to come out and be aggressive, but just allowing our kids to play and work together as one cohesive unit, offensively,” said Valenti, of his players. “I have to give credit to Greg Hodges, our head JV coach. He saw some things that Gowanda was doing and was able to articulate and break down how they were going to adjust and he was right. He called a lot of plays tonight and called a great game, as well.”
Ethan Benz led the ground game, running for 107 yards on 13 carries and a 41-yard touchdown run. Wolcott had 175 all-purpose yards, including 92 yards receiving a touchdown. Jobe Fleming had seven carries for 63 yards and scored on a 5-yard run.
Springville’s defense pitched its second shutout of the season, blanking the Panthers. The defensive showing by the Griffins held Gowanda to 122 yards of total offense.
“We won the field position battle,” added Valenti. “We didn’t allow them to get the ball, with a short field in front of them. There have been games, this year, where we’ve given up points, not because of playing poorly defensively, but because of losing the field position battle. Aside from a few miscues, here and there [against Gowanda], we played pretty very well, defensively.”
Springville forced three turnovers, in the game. Josh Cieslica stripped the ball and recovered a fumble, while Wolcott and Suffoletto each added interceptions. Suffoletto has been a huge game-changer defensively, according to Valenti. The senior cornerback has three interceptions, a forced fumble and a blocked punt, on the season. The five turnovers he’s forced defensively leads the team.
“Andy is someone that, overall, has had a really nice season,” added Valenti. “With this being his senior year, he’s really brought a tenacity. He’s been a ball hawk, back there. Andy is an emotional kid; that’s allowed him to make so many plays. His emotion and his relentlessness just make for a high-motor kid.”
Gowanda was led by senior running back Brennen Geiger, who ran 25 times for 98 yards. Geiger has 981 yards on the season and needs 19 yards to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. Gowanda coach Sean Gabel noted that his team didn’t play consistently enough to come out on top.
Gowanda fell to 2-6 on the season.
“We hit on defense, but we took one play off, here and there, and they get a touchdown,” said Gabel. “It’s just inconsistency, and that’s the sign of a young team. We have athletes, but we’re still young. We have to move the ball on offense; we have to get points on the board. They are not throwing their helmets; they are not beating on each other or pointing fingers. As a whole, we’ve stuck together.”
Gowanda hosted Maryvale at Hillis Field on Oct. 30, while Springville traveled to Lewiston Porter.