Purple Eagles, Mustangs to renew rivalry
No division title or playoff berth will be on the line but pride, bragging rights and the “Doc’s Rock” Trophy will be as Albion hosts Medina/Lyndonville at 7 p.m. Friday in the 120th renewal of one of New York State’s oldest schoolboy football rivalries which dates back to 1898.
Albion will be looking to rebound from a narrow 18-15 loss at Dunkirk last Friday in what was a key clash of unbeatens for the B-2 Division title.
“We’ve got to pick it up and put that one behind us,” said Albion Coach Adam Krenning whose 5-1 Purple Eagles have already clinched a spot in the upcoming Class B sectional playoffs.
Ironically, Albion’s opening round sectional game could be a rematch at Dunkirk as the Purple Eagles are the No. 6 seed and the Marauders look to be the No. 3.
Medina/Lyndonville is looking to make it three wins in row as the Mustangs are coming off a wild 58-34 victory at Alden.
“We’ve got to play better defensively. Coach Krenning has Albion playing very good football and they are a very competitive team,” said Medina Coach Eric Valley whose 4-2 Mustangs need help from Friday’s Burgard at Pioneer game in order to claim the No. 8 seed for the Class B sectionals.
Medina/Lyndonville, which has completed B-3 Division play, has +11 sectional points while Burgard is +6 and Pioneer -7. The Mustangs need Burgard to either lose or to win by less than 6 points or for Pioneer to win but by less than 18 points.
“The sectional spot is out of our hands so our one and only focus now is on the Albion game,” said Valley.
Medina/Lyndonville bested Albion 48-6 last year and the Mustangs have won 4 of the last 5.
However, Albion holds a big 65-49-5 lead in the series which over the decades has featured a number of long dominating streaks by both teams including Medina’s 19-4-1 run from 1957-1980 and Albion’s 18-3 run from 1989-2009.
“It’s a big game,” said Krenning. “The kids play harder and it’s fun to be a part of as a player and as a coach.”
“It’s a pretty exciting week,” said Valley. “Both teams are coming in with very good records. It’s a great rivalry.”
The Albion offense is led by junior quarterback Bryce Pritchard who has passed for 5 touchdowns and run for 3. His weapons include running backs Ugene Harrison (9 touchdowns) and Demetrius Gardner along with receivers Nate Moore (3 TD receptions) and JaQuess Harrison who has also been a big special teams player with two long punt returns and one kickoff return for touchdowns.
“We have to play really good defense and offensively we have to control the ball and move the chains,” said Valley. “Turnovers will play a big part so we need to secure the football.”
The Mustangs are also led by a junior quarterback, Izaiah Rhim, who passed for 13 touchdowns and run for 7 more. He has connected with six different receivers for scoring plays including Jalin Cooper (4), Mason Lewis (3), Brendan Luthart (2), Brian Fry (2), DaRon Bellan (1), and William Braswell (1). Braswell has also led the Mustangs ground attack with 4 rushing TDs.
“Defensively we’ve got to have a good game because they have some great players,” said Krenning. “We’ve got to play solid defense and our offense has to click.”
The “Doc’s Rock”Trophy, which will be presented to the winning team at the end of the game, is given annually in memory of Larry ‘Doc” Decker who served as a coach and teacher in both the Medina and Albion school districts during his career.
Also on Friday, Lackawanna (4-0, 5-1) will look to close out an undefeated B-3 Division championship season as the Steelers visit Roy-Hart/Barker (1-3, 1-5) at 7 p.m. at Roy-Hart.
On Saturday, Holley (3-1, 3-3) will look to make it four victories in a row as the Hawks host Pembroke (3-1, 5-1) at 1:30 p.m.