Weekly Feature



2017-10-11 / Sports

East football posts another comeback win

Flames clinch first playoff berth since 2012
PATRICK NAGY
Sports Reporter


Williamsville East’s Nick Kieffer (8) celebrates with Jack Baumler (64) and Dom Picillo (55) after scoring the winning touchdown during the Flames’ comeback 20-16 homecoming win over Kenmore West Saturday. 
Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Williamsville East’s Nick Kieffer (8) celebrates with Jack Baumler (64) and Dom Picillo (55) after scoring the winning touchdown during the Flames’ comeback 20-16 homecoming win over Kenmore West Saturday. Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Whenever you watch a Williamsville East football game, don’t leave early.

For the second consecutive week, the Flames rallied in the fourth quarter to pick up a victory, beating Kenmore West, 20-16, in its homecoming game Saturday. East also scored late in the fourth quarter of its Week Five game, a 23-22 home win over North Tonawanda.

The victory over Kenmore West was East’s fourth straight victory and improved the Flames to 4-1 in Class A North, 4-2 overall, and clinched a berth for the Section VI Federation playoffs for the first time since 2012.

It’s an amazing turnaround considering East debuted a new head coach and opened the season with consecutive losses to Starpoint, the reigning league regular-season champion, and Williamsville North in a non-league game.

East can actually clinch a tie for first place in the division and a top-two seed for the postseason should they win at Grand Island in Week Seven, although Starpoint would hold the tiebreaker. The lowest East can finish in the division is third due to holding a tiebreaker over Williamsville South and Sweet Home.

“I’m happy for the kids because they have worked hard,” East coach Mike Torrillo said. “You come into a new situation with a new coach and new technology and they buy into it. They are fun to coach.”

“It feels great,” said senior Nick Kieffer, who recorded an interception on defense and scored the game-winning touchdown. “This program has been through a lot. Having a new coach, he’s kept these players disciplined and we are playing well together. We need to win next week to get first place in the division to keep the momentum going.”

“This hasn’t really been a football school, but we have been getting a lot of fans lately and the atmosphere has been great,” added East senior Joey Shifflet, who caught six passes for 50 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown, an interception on defense, and was named homecoming king.

Shifflet was integral in the Flames’ go-ahead scoring drive, catching a 10-yard reception and rushing for a 15-yard gain. He was motioned to the right as a decoy on the game-winning score, a 10-yard catch from Skorka to Kieffer with 1:13 left.

East also gained 15 yards on the drive due to a roughing the pass personal foul penalty on Kenmore West.

Torrillo said the team had run the same play when Shifflet caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Skorka with 50 seconds left late in the third quarter, cutting the Flames’ deficit from 16-7 to 16-13.

“Joey has been the guy all year long,” Torrillo said. “It was actually the same play [Joey] scored on. I guessed right on that one and Colson made a big throw.”

“Coach called a slant and put Joey in motion – I have to give credit to the line and the quarterback – all I had to do was make an easy catch,” Kieffer said.

“They have been saying, ‘watch 10’ all game, so we made sure I faked a run so they could focus on me and Nick could score a touchdown,” Shifflet said.

Skorka completed 14-of-27 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns.

All year the Flames’ defense has carried the team, and they once again made big plays when called upon to set up drives for the offense.

On the third play from scrimmage, Danny Wagner blitzed and hit Kenmore West quarterback Faisal Ahmadi, causing the ball to pop up in the air and into the arms of John Moran for a 22-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

“I saw Danny Wagner going at the quarterback mid-throw, and he popped him, and the ball went up and into my hands,” Moran said.

Kieffer intercepted a pass and returned it about 40 yards to the Kenmore West 15 to set up Shifflet’s score.

Shifflet also recovered a fumble late in the third quarter and intercepted Kenmore West’s Andrew From with 23 seconds left to end the Blue Devils’ scoring threat.

Wagner and Kevin Steele were both in on 15 tackles.

“Our defense has been awesome all year,” Torrillo said. “We have a resilient group of kids who play hard. We were oversized again. Ken West had a good game plan, and our kids stuck with it and made the stops when they had to. They don’t quit. I credit our line coach, Rob Westmiller, for rotating seven, eight, nine guys on our defensive and offensive line. It was a hot day, so I think that helped in the end.”

Kenmore West (1-5) played well for big chunks of the game as running backs Joseph Stewart, Erick Rainey and Mike Miranda chewed many yards on the ground.

The Blue Devils’ first drive lasted 14 plays – all runs - and chewed up 72 yards, capped off by a 6-yard touchdown run by Stewart. Stewart also ran in the two-point conversion, extending the Blue Devils’ lead to 8-7 with 5:17 left in the first quarter.

The Blue Devils’ second scoring drive lasted almost six minutes in the second quarter and was capped off by a 5-yard run by Rainey with 4:18 left in the first half.

Eddie Vona added a two-point conversion run, putting Ken West ahead 16-7.

Kenmore West (1-5) closes out its regular season when it hosts Kenmore East (1-5) in its annual meeting at 2 p.m. Saturday at Crosby Field.

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