It was high school football at its finest last weekend as teams across Western New York battled for section titles and ultimate bragging rights. After winning their respective matchups, the Bills and ADPRO Sports named Eric Rupp, head coach of the Lancaster Legends, and Jeff Welch, sideline boss for the Canandaigua Braves, as the winners of the High School Coach of the Week program.
Eric Rupp, the Buffalo Region Coach of the Week, had quite the game day experience with his Lancaster Legends last Saturday. Up against rival Orchard Park in the Section VI Class AA championship, Lancaster pulled off a come-from-behind 23-17 win at New Era Field. The victory marks the team's fourth straight title.
Down by 10 points in the third quarter, Lancaster kept the faith alive. With help from senior Shawn Davis, who went 83 yards on a kick return for a touchdown, the Legends had points on the board. Shifting the momentum, Lancaster struck again late in the third when junior Dominic Fulciniti hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass to put the Legends up 14-10.
Orchard Park had an answer, however. With seven minutes on the clock, the Quakers scored to pull ahead of the Lancaster. On the next possession, Lancaster drove 53 yards down the field to even the score at 17 points apiece with just 3:34 left in the game. The Legends weren't finished. On Orchard Park's next series, senior cornerback Ethan Jurkowski set Lancaster up for to win the game when he got a sack and a forced fumble. From there, junior ball carrier Cody Phillips took it in for the game-sealing score.
With the impressive win, Lancaster will move on to face McQuaid Jesuit of Rochester, New York, in the Far West Regionals on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 6:30 p.m. The matchup will be played at SUNY Brockport.
Meanwhile, in Rochester, Jeff Welch and the Canandaigua Braves were putting on a show themselves. The Rochester Region Coach of the Week, Welch and his team defeated East High 21-12 in the Section V Class A championship. With the win, the Braves have advanced to 9-1 on the season.
Although the Braves were up just one point at 14-13 in the first half, they completely dominated in the second. Kicking things off for Canandaigua was sophomore Bryan Boldrin, who ran five yards for a touchdown to put the Braves up 7-0. Keeping things moving on the ground, senior running back Zach Wantuck scored next for Canandaigua and would go on to finish the game with 134 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
With help from senior JC Clifford, the Braves shut out the Eagles in the remaining two quarters. The Class A Defensive Player of the Year, Clifford amassed nine tackles, three of which were for a loss, and one sack.
Next up, Canandaigua will take on Section VI South Park in the Far West Regionals round on Friday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. The game will also be played at SUNY Brockport.
Check back on buffalobills.com each week for the announcement of the Coach of the Week winners and tune in to "One Bills Live," presented by Kaleida Health, each Tuesday afternoon to hear the winners announced on the show. Good luck to all the high school football coaches this season from the Buffalo Bills and ADPRO Sports!
About the program:
The Buffalo Bills are once again proudly partnering with ADPRO Sports in 2019 to recognize some of the best high school football coaches Western New York has to offer, through the High School Coach of the Week program. During the 2019 high school football season, the Bills and ADPRO Sports will recognize 11 coaches from both the Buffalo and Rochester regions on buffalobills.com. The winners will be selected by a committee of high school football experts from each region.