Mustangs set for state football playoff debut

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 18 November 2021 at 10:56 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Getting set to lead Medina into Saturday’s Far West Region state playoff game are these Mustang seniors. In front are Zach Oliver, Rashawn Bloom, Greg Thompson, Jarin Rhim and Xander Payne. In back are Anthony Rutty, Chase Weese, Jared Odita, Colvin Stalker, Hayden Woodroe and Joe Cecchini. Missing from the photo is Iverson Poole.

Venturing into uncharted waters, Medina will make its state football playoff debut on Saturday as the Mustangs take on East Rochester/Gananda in the Class C Far West Regional contest at noon at Williamsville South High School.

“It’s huge,” said Medina Coach Eric Valley of advancing to the state playoffs. “Just to have a chance to win a state title. I’m just super glad for the kids to have this opportunity.”

Fresh from capturing sectional championships both the Mustangs and Bombers bring 11-0 records into the state playoffs.

Medina romped to a very snowy 48-6 win over Fredonia to claim a second straight Section VI Class C title while East Rochester/Gananda outlasted Bath Haverling 18-12 in double overtime to earn the Section V Class C crown.

Running back Chaunsey Gilbert ran for a touchdown in each overtime period to provide the margin of victory for the Bombers. Quarterback Carter Lathrop scored the Bombers lone TD in regulation time.

In the Bombers semifinal round 28-13 win over Letchworth/Warsaw/Perry, Lathrop passed for two touchdowns and ran for another and Gilbert ran for a TD. Gilbert also had a big four TD, 207 yard rushing effort in the Bombers quarterfinal round 46-8 win over Marcus Whitfield/Bloomfield.

“They’ve got a good running back. They spread it around but their running back is their No. 1 threat,” said Valley. “Defensively they put a lot of pressure on. They are a really athletic group so we have to play well defensively and up front offensively. If we do that good things should happen.”

The Mustangs defensive unit and offensive line both came up huge in the snow against Fredonia.

The defense, which has now allowed only one touchdown in the last two sectional games, yielded just the one score to Fredonia just before the half after Medina had built up a commanding 32-0 lead.

Against Fredonia Joe Cecchini had 6.5 tackles, Noah Skinner 5.5, Rashawn Bloom 5, Hayden Woodroe 4.5, Chris Johnson 4, Ollie Wilson 3.5, Roosevelt Mitchell 3, Robert Arnold 3 and Cayden Lilleby 3.

On the season, Skinner leads the defensive unit with 68 tackles while Woodroe has 54, Cecchini 53, Johnson 49, Iverson Poole 34, Dominic Larabee 32, Josh Wilson 31, Greg Thompson 26, Ollie Wilson 23 and Zach Oliver 22. Cecchini also leads the unit in sacks with 12 while Skinner and Arnold both had 6.

The offensive line of Colvin Stalker, Josh Wilson, Ollie Wilson, Johnson and Mitchell consistently opened big holes against Fredonia allowing the Mustangs backs to rush for a Section VI playoff record 596 yards including four TD runs by Thompson (31, 44, 82 and 45 yards), three by quarterback Xander Payne (5, 28 and 46 yards) and one by Skinner (39 yards).

Skinner now has rushed for a total of 669 yards and 8 touchdowns, Thompson 536 and 5 TD and Payne 394 and 7 TD. Poole, who is listed as “very doubtful” for the game by Valley after being injured against Fredonia, has rushed for 568 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Payne has also passed for a total of 1,386 yards and a school record 21 touchdowns to five different receivers including Jarin Rhim (32 catches for 421 yards and 7 TD), Thompson (17 for 370 and 5 TD), Cecchini (19 for 297 and 4 TD), Poole (10 for 177 and 4 TD) and Lilleby (2 for 25 and 1 TD).

The victor in Saturday’s game will advance to the state Class C semifinals on November 27 at Cicero-North Syracuse High School against the winner of Saturday’s Central Region contest between Skaneateles (Section III) and Chenango Forks (Section IV).

How they got There
Section VI playoffs
Quarterfinals – Medina 30, Eden 14
Semifinals – Medina 32, Lackawanna 0
Finals – Medina 58, Fredonia 6

Section V Playoffs
Quarterfinals – East Rochester/Gananda 46, Marcus Whitman/Bloomfield 6
Semifinals – ER/Gananda 28. Letchworth/Warsaw/Perry 13
Finals – ER/Gananda 18, Bath Haverling 12 (2 OT)

State Class C Quarterfinals on Saturday
Medina (Section VI) vs. East Rochester/Gananda (Section V)
Skaneateles (Section III) vs. Chenango Forks (Section IV)
Schuylerville (Section II) vs. Ogdensburg (Section X)
O’Neill (Section IX) vs. Dobbs Ferry (Section I)