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Eden Raiders avenge last year’s playoff loss against Springville-Griffith Institute varsity football squad

BLASTING THROUGH THE PACK — S-GI’s Josh Cieslica bursts through the Eden line, during the game on Sept 7. Eden took that game 20-12.
SPRINGVILLE — When the final horn sounded, it was host Eden that avenged last year’s playoff loss to Springville, with a 20-12 win on Sept. 7, on the opening weekend of the Western New York high school football season.

The Springville-Griffith Institute Varsity Griffins ended Eden’s season a year ago, with a 12-6 win in the Class B quarterfinals. The Raiders pounded out 259 yards on the ground, using coach Chuck Tilley’s double-wing attack, and that team’s defense produced seven sacks, while keeping S-GI to less than 100 total yards.

“I’m glad we won,” Tilley said. “I told the kids: There is nothing worse than practicing for three weeks, in the preseason, and coming out and losing. It’s like working all week and not getting paid. But we didn’t play well; at times, we did.”

The Raiders scored the final 14 points of the game, after Springville had taken its first lead, early in the third quarter. Quarterback Nick Sarratori took off up the middle for a 3-yard touchdown that finished off a six-play, 49-yard drive. Eden was successful on its 2-point conversion, to take a 14-12 lead. The Raiders added a 6-yard touchdown by Garrett DiStefano, in the fourth.

“We started strong and we finished strong,” said Tilley, whose team took a 6-0 lead, after stopping Springville’s opening-game drive with a three-and-out.

“We came back and that showed some character, but if we’re going to beat the Aldens and the Depews of the world, or even have a chance at winning, we need to play flawless football.”

WHO RUNS THE BALL — Springville-Griffith Institute’s Devin White-Kearns gets airborne as he tries to twist away from a Raider, during the Sept. 7 game. Eden avenged a loss against their rival, during that contest. Photos by Dave DeLuca.

Eden engineered an 11-play, 78-yard drive, to open the game’s scoring. Senior running back Alex Smythe scored from 2 yards out, in the first quarter. Smythe finished the game with 89 yards on 16 carries.

Three plays after a second quarter blocked punt from Springville’s Andy Suffoletto, quarterback Devin White-Kearns tossed a 6-yard pass to Justin Dewitt, for the Griffs, to tie it at 6-6, as the extra point was no good. The game remained deadlocked at 6-6, as the game entered halftime.

White-Kearns kept the ball on a counter-option, broke a number of tackles and scampered into the end zone, from 40 yards out, to give Springville a 12-6 advantage, early in the third. But Eden took the lead back on its next possession and would not relinquish it.

“It’s the first game of the year and it sounds trite to say, but it’s a long season,” Springville’s head coach John Sopko said. “Everyone has the opportunity to learn something from this game. Then you apply it and go forward.”

DiStefano finished the day with 91 yards on eight carries. The senior also was part of an Eden defensive effort that produced seven sacks.

“We’ve been practicing against their triple-option, a lot,” DiStefano said. “We had it down. When you practice for three weeks on one offense, you have to dominate. When the game comes, I had a good game, but it’s the whole team. There are 11 players on the field. When I’m making the tackle, someone else is taking on two lead blockers.”

Eden will prepare this week for a premier South matchup with defending Class B champion Alden, playing at home on Saturday, Sept. 14, starting at 2 p.m.

The Springville men will looked to rebound as they host Dunkirk, on Sept. 13. Both teams will enter the game 0-1 after Dunkirk lost to Aldenover the weekend.


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