Plenty at stake as Mustangs, Purple Eagles renew century plus long football rivalry

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 13 October 2016 at 9:57 am

Photos by Cheryl Wertman – Two sophomore quarterbacks,Medina/Lyndonville’s Izaiah Rhim and Albion’s Bryce Pritchard will lead their teams into Friday’s annual rivalry game.

It’s always a big game and both teams will have a little added incentive as Medina/Lyndonville hosts rival Albion at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Vets Park in the 119th renewal of one of the state’s longest high school football rivalries that dates back to 1898.

The Mustangs (4-0, 5-1), which have already clinched a tie for the B East Division title, are seeking to claim the division title outright for the first time since 1988 with a win while the Purple Eagles (1-3, 2-4) are looking to derail that quest.

The teams are also battling for the right to claim the Doc’s Rock Trophy which is given to the winner each year in memory of Larry “Doc” Decker who taught and coached in both school districts.

In addition, a new Sportsmanship Award will also be presented to a player from each team at the end of the game in memory of Jeff Evoy, who served as superintendent in Medina and prior to that taught at Albion.

The Mustangs are also looking to rebound from their first loss of the season, a narrow 8-6 setback to C North Division leader Cleveland Hill (5-1), while the Purple Eagles are looking to keep the momentum from a 40-6 romp over Akron.

“This is obviously a very important game for us for many reasons,” said Medina Coach Eric Valley. “It will have an effect on how we finish in our league and will also have an effect on where we will be seeded for sectional play. More importantly the game is a rivalry game and Doc’s Rock is up for grabs.

“Albion has played everyone close this year and has been very competitive in out league,” he added. “They feature some very physical kids up front and one of the best running backs in our area. I have no doubt Coach Parisi will have his team hitting on all cylinders on Friday night. We are coming off a very tough loss to a vey good Cleveland Hill team.”

“This is always a great game no matter what each others records are,” said Albion Coach Gary Parisi. “We are proud of our team and the way they practice and play. It’s a process and you have to trust the process of preparing for a game week in and out. This one has a little more at state.

“This game has impact on so many people in Albion, former players, coaches, our youth program and just about everyone can’t wait for this game,” he added. “It gives people in town and out of town something to talk about and feel good about for a whole year. I was telling out kids this week that I have seen Albion-Medina games since 1984 when I met Coach Diminuco (former long time Albion Coach Dick Diminuco). It is by far the best rivalry game anyone can ever be a part of.”

Sophomore quarterback Izaiah Rhim, who has thrown 9 touchdown passes, leads the Medina attack which features versatile receiver junior Jalin Cooper (280 yards rushing, 277 receiving, 13 touchdowns) along with senior running backs Jake Cotter (653 yards rushing, 6 TDs) and Eric Neace (316 yards rushing, 5 TDs).

Providing the all important protection and blocking up front are center Tyler Howard, guards Dawson Joy and Ian Joseph and tackles Emmanuel Sones, Chris Clark and Powell Stephens.

“We knew going into the season that we had some holes to fill up front with our offensive and defensive lines,” said Valley. “For us the key is going to be how well we play up front. We need to be more aggressive and physical at the point of attack. We will be looking to our offensive line to establish the run and give us some time in the passing game.”

Albion is also led by a sophomore quarterback, Bryce Pritchard who has thrown 8 touchdown passes including 3 each to Nate Moore and Lamar Chambers.

The Purple Eagles ground attack is spearheaded by Tommy Mattison who has scored 11 touchdowns and rushed for over 1,000 yards.

“Tommy Mattison has worked hard since the end of last season to get 1,000 yards this year but he has had some help,” said Parisi. “Offensive Coordinator Ocie Bennett, Line Coach Adam Krenning and Tight End Coach Wayne Wadhams have had to work an offensive line unit that only returned 2 starters and includes 2 sophomores.”

That front line unit includes center Jared Hollinger, guards Justin Stritzinger and Ben Restivo, tackles Caleb Pettit and Kirk Ellison and tight end Kory Reynolds.

“These guys were very happy for Tommy because it was an accomplishment for them as well and something to hang their hat on,” said Parisi. “It was worth the line camps they attended during the summer to get better.”

“On the defensive side of the ball we are playing pretty good defense up front and we will need our interior linemen to set up this week,” said Valley who noted that group includes Howard, Frank Carrasquillo and Da’John Brown.

“They key to this game will be to play sound football from blocking to tackling to executing the game plan on both sides of the ball,” said Parisi. “It really just comes down to that.”

Albion, which won last year’s meeting 27-14, holds a 65-48-5 lead in the all-time series.

The teams have each scored 5 wins over the last 10 years but prior to that they took turns putting together long dominating runs. The Purple Eagles went 19-5 from 1983-2005 while the Mustangs went 20-5 from 1957-1982.

Barker/Roy-Hart at Lackawanna

Barker/Roy-Hart (0-4, 2-4) will visit Lackawanna (2-2, 3-3) at 7 p.m. Friday in another B East Division game.

Barker/Roy-Hart won the only previous meeting with the Steelers 42-25 in 2012.

Holley vs. Attica

A berth in the Section V playoffs will be on the line as Holley hosts Attica at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the Genesee Region League season finale.

Holley is looking to keep the momentum from last weekend’s thrilling 3-0 overtime victory over Notre Dame of Batavia which boosted the Hawks record to 2-2 in the league and 3-3 overall.

Attica, which is the only G-R team Holley has not defeated since the Hawks reinstated varsity football in 2002, is 3-1 in the league and 3-3 overall. The Blue Devils hold a 14-0 lead in the all-time series with the Hawks.

B East Division: Medina/Lyndonville 4-0, 5-1; Alden 4-1, 4-2; Lackawanna 2-2, 3-3; Depew 2-3, 2-4; Albion 1-3, 2-4; Barker/Roy-Hart 0-4, 2-4.
G-R League: Alexander 5-0, 6-0; Attica 3-1, 3-3; Holley 2-2, 3-3; Pembroke 2-3, 2-4; Notre Dame 1-3, 1-5; Oakfield-Alabama/Elba 0-4, 0-6.