Mustangs will host Steelers in Class C semi

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 4 November 2021 at 9:59 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Medina defenders Chris Johnson (52), Dominic Larabee (7) and Josh Wilson (41), shown here tackling Lackawanna quarterback William Gechell during the regular season meeting between the teams, and their Mustang teammates will host the Steelers in the Class C semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday at Vets Park.

A familiar foe will provide the opposition as No. 1 seed defending champion Medina hosts No. 5 Lackawanna in the semifinals of the Section VI Class C playoffs at 7 p.m. Friday at Vets Park.

It will be a rematch of a regular season game which saw Medina post a 34-16 win at Lackawanna, a contest which was tight into the third quarter.

Medina jumped out to a 20-0 lead but Lackawanna answered with a pair of quick second quarter touchdown passes to slice the lead to 20-16 at the half. The Mustangs opened up a little breathing room with a third period touchdown and then locked up the win with a TD in the final stanza.

“It’s always tough to play a team the second time especially a team that has the athletes they do. We learned that a few years ago,” said Medina Coach Eric Valley in referring to the two meetings between the Mustangs and Steelers just five years ago during the 2016 season.

Those were truly a tale of two very different games as Medina romped to a 48-6 win over Lackawanna during the regular season only to see the Steelers turn the tables and defeat the Mustangs 16-8 in the sectionals.

The Mustangs bring a 9-0 record into Friday’s contest while the Steelers, which have won three in a row, are 5-4.

“They have the ability to strike quick so we have to continue to play well,” said Valley. “Establishing the line of scrimmage and winning the turnover battle will be key.”

Offensively the Steelers are led by quarterback William Gechell (687 yards passing with 8 touchdowns), running back Amir Douglas (537 yards rushing with 5 TDs) and receiver Ashlin Alexander-Hall (18 receptions for 277 yards and 5 TDs).

Quarterback Xander Payne, who has passed for 1,274 yards and a school record 21 touchdowns leads the Medina attack.

The Mustangs receiving corps is led by Jarin Rhim (30 receptions for 391 yards and 7 TDs), Greg Thompson (15 for 364 yards and 5 TD), Joe Cecchini (16 for 254 yards and 4 TD) and Iverson Poole (9 for 164 yards and 4 TD).

On the ground, Poole has rushed for 558 yards and 9 TDs and Noah Skinner 526 yards and 7TDs.

In the earlier win over the Steelers, Payne ran for one touchdown and completed TD passes to Cecchini and Poole to give Medina the early 20-0 lead. He later hooked up with Rhim for a third quarter TD pass giving the Mustangs some breathing room and Skinner put a lock on the win by bulldozing his way for a 45 yard TD run in the final quarter.

Defensively for the Mustangs Skinner has been in on 53 tackles, Hayden Woodroe 47, Cecchini 41, Chris Johnson 37, Poole 35, Dominic Larabee 32 and Josh Wilson 28. Cecchini also has 9 sacks, Robert Arnold 5 and Larabee 3.

The other Class C semifinal will have No. 7 Southwestern facing No. 3 Fredonia at 7 p.m. Friday at Dunkirk.

That will also be a rematch of a regular season game which saw Fredonia edge Southwestern 27-25. Fredonia built up a 27-7 lead only to see Southwestern rally for 18 fourth quarter points to make the finish close.

Fredonia is 9-0 and Southwestern 6-3 with the Trojans three losses coming by a total of only four points.