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Springville-Griffith Institute varsity football team takes rival team Dunkirk 7-6 on Pop Warner Field Sept. 13

TURN UP THE HEAT — Springville-Griffith Institute’s Ethan Benz poured it on, as he ran the ball during the Sept. 13 game against Dunkirk. Photos by Dave DeLuca.

SPRINGVILLE — In a battle of two defenses at Pop Warner Field in Springville, the Griffins came out on top with a 7-6 victory, in their home opener on Sept. 13 against Dunkirk.

“It was a hard-hitting game and that’s nothing we shy away from,” Springville head coach John Sopko said. “We try to bring that physicality to every game that we play. I’m really proud of how the guys came out, tonight. They came out with a very clear intension and good focus for the game.”

Springville’s defense allowed the visiting Marauders 73 yards of total offense. Early in the first quarter, Dunkirk’s Richard Pickins returned a Springville punt 62 yards, before Nick Bomasuto opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run. The extra point was blocked by Springville’s Tyler Conklin, which proved to be a pivotal moment in the game. Springville did not let Dunkirk inside the Griff’s 35-yard line, the rest of the way.

Bobby Fisher scored the Griffs’ only touchdown on the night, with a 2-yard run with just 44 seconds remaining in the first half. Wyatt Langendorfer, who is transitioning from soccer to football, as a senior, drilled the extra point for the Griffs, which ended up making the difference. Langendorfer also averaged 40 yards per punt, including a 50-yard boot, in the second quarter.

CUT HIM OFF AT THE KNEES — S-GI’s Pat O’Brien brings down Dunkirk’s Nick Bartette, during second quarter action.

“It feels awesome; we finally got back to playing some Springville football,” senior captain Brandon Ball said, after the game. “We got down early, but we just rallied together and we didn’t let them score another touchdown, in the last three quarters.”

Leading the defensive charge for Springville was Ball, with 10 tackles and two sacks. With Dunkirk pinned in its own end, late in the second quarter, Ball brought down Marauders’ quarterback Josh Goodwin, for a loss of six yards. His second sack came in the third quarter, when Goodwin was flushed out of the pocket and Ball brought him down for a loss of 13 yards.

“Brandon has been a great player for us,” Sopko said. “I felt like tonight we had a chance to see again, and reacquaint ourselves with, the real Brandon Ball. I told him on the sideline after he made one play, ‘it seems like the old Brandon is here; let’s make sure he stays with us for the rest of the season.’”

Playing opposite Ball at defensive end was Fisher, who finished with seven tackles and a quarterback sack. Springville piled up 179 yards on the ground, running the triple-option.

Conklin led the ground game with 74 yards on seven carries. Springville’s junior quarterback Devin White-Kearns ran 12 times for 50 yards, in his second game as the starter.

WHO RUNS THE WORLD — No. 28 Andy Suffoletto and Bobby Fisher, 30, celebrate after Fisher’s touchdown, in the second quarter

“It feels pretty good; being a junior and then starting quarterback is a big step,” White-Kearns said. The offensive line did really well and the defense stepped up. We just outplayed them.”

White-Kearns completed three of four passes, for 40 yards in the win, and leads the team in rushing, through the team’s first two games. Sopko added that this game was another step for the 16-year-old signal caller.

“He has a learning curve,” Sopko said. “But tonight, he made some steps that we were pleased to see and I think he was pleased to experience. His teammates before the game rallied around him and told him, ‘We got your back.’ That’s a great reflection of the kind of kids we have, in this program. I’m very proud of him and I see nothing but great things from him, as he continues to work.”

Springville met on the morning of Sept. 14 for its weekly recovery practice and began their preparation for their next opponent, Depew, which improved to 2-0 by defeating East Aurora 38-6 on Sept. 13.

“Coach [Brian] Wilson is one of the best high school coaches in Western New York,” Sopko noted. ”It’s been a long time since Depew has traveled down the 219 to Pop Warner Field. It’s a game our players are looking forward to. We’ll prepare and have a regular week’s work, in preparation for the game.”


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