By Shawn Campbell
The stat seems both alarming and surprising for a football team like Franklinville/Ellicottville: The Titans’ dynamic offense turned the ball over three times Friday night.
But before any of those uncharacteristic giveaways, F/E had taken a 22-0 lead. In fact, that was the score 45 seconds into the second quarter. In a matchup of state-ranked Class D teams, No. 8 F/E’s start was so good against No. 16 Clymer/Sherman/Panama that future miscues were rendered about meaningless.
The Titans’ usual leaders led the way again in a 28-6 win that completed an undefeated regular season and secured the No. 1 seed for the Section 6 playoffs.
“We came out and we looked fast and crisp, and that’s how we expect to look,” coach Chad Bartoszek said. “This team right here, the Wolfpack … they hit and they were big and they were physical at points. They made us work. You’ve got to tip your hat to them because they answered. Down 22-0, they could’ve caved in. They made us work, and we needed that type of game. We were in a physical battle.”
On Senior Night, Brock Blecha, Sam Erickson, Griffin Chudy and Austin Grinols all played big roles for F/E (7-0, 5-0).
Blecha completed 10 of 15 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 52 yards and leading the team with 11 tackles.
Erickson, Franklinville’s Homecoming king, caught a 6-yard TD from Blecha on the game’s first possession. The basketball star also had a pair of sacks in the second half.
Chudy hauled in a 37-yard touchdown strike that put the Titans up 14-0 with 23 seconds left in the first quarter. On the Wolfpack’s ensuing possession, he recorded an interception when a CSP receiver couldn’t complete a catch and the ball popped out of his hands. Three plays later, Chudy ran for a 2-yard score.
Grinols was responsible for two of F/E’s three second-half takeaways, forcing a fumble and recovering it after a long CSP completion and later intercepting a pass.
“They’re continuous,” Bartoszek said of his team’s leaders. “Austin Grinols just stepped up huge towards the second half. I mean, holy cow, he made some plays for us. In the first half, it was Griff and Sammy and Brock. Those guys … they keep showing up. They keep playing ball. I think in the second half, we just got into a little bit of a dogfight.”
After racking up 151 yards in the first quarter, the Titans were outgained 172-94 the rest of the way. Michael Beatman rushed for 94 yards for CSP (5-2, 3-2).
“I am really proud of the guys, the way they bounced back after the first quarter,” Wolfpack coach Ty Harper said. “You can’t get off to a bad start against a great team like that. They’re No. 8 in the state for a reason. But I think after that first quarter, after the first 12 minutes, I thought we battled and it was a pretty even game.”
But even though F/E committed three turnovers (one interception and two fumbles on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter), it finished with four takeaways and shut out the Wolfpack in the second half.
“Our defense was lights-out, other than a couple missed tackles here and there,” Bartoszek said.
And Bartoszek’s team got one key score after intermission to put the game away, with a 2-yard Blecha keeper capping a 14-play, 48-yard drive after a CSP fumble. Blecha kept the drive going with his arm, completing an 8-yard pass to Deric Leiper on fourth-and-5 and a 16-yarder to Grinols on third-and-16.
The undefeated regular season is Franklinville/Ellicottville’s first in four years as a combined team. The Titans will host No. 8 seed Portville (1-6) in the Section 6 Class D quarterfinals next Friday at Ellicottville’s Ray Gray Field.
“It’s awesome,” Bartoszek said. “For me, personally, I didn’t really think about it too much because we’re focusing on bigger-picture things as coaches. But after the game, it was fun to look the kids in the eye, ‘You’re a senior and you’re 7-0 and you did it on your home field. This team really worked hard.’”
(Shawn Campbell is an Olean Times Herald reporter.)
Clymer/Sherman/Panama 0 6 0 0 — 6
Franklinville/Ellicottville 14 8 0 6 — 28
Franklinville/Ellicottville — Sam Erickson 6 pass from Brock Blecha (11 plays, 73 yards); Blecha run, 8-0
Franklinville/Ellicottville — Griffin Chudy 37 pass from Blecha (6 plays, 66 yards); run failed, 14-0
Franklinville/Ellicottville — Chudy 2 run (3 plays, 17 yards, after Chudy 23 interception return); Deric Leiper pass from Blecha, 22-0
Clymer/Sherman/Panama — Michael Beatman 2 run (15 plays, 80 yards); pass failed, 22-6
Franklinville/Ellicottville — Blecha 2 run (14 plays, 48 yards, after fumble); pass failed, 28-6
First Downs 9 14
Rushes-Yards 30-70 36-107
Passing Yards 108 138
Comp-Att-Int 9-19-2 10-15-1
Total Offense 178 245
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 2-2
Penalties-Yards 4-30 4-35
Punts-Avg 3-25.7 2-44.0
Total Plays 49 51