Cheektowaga Finishes Their Season at 9-2
Batavia running back Ray Leach ran wild against Rochester-area teams all season long in leading the Blue Devils to a Section V championship. But the competition wasn’t as tough as it is around here so back-to-back Section VI champion Cheektowaga Central posed his most difficult test to date.
Leach ran for 417 yards and eight touchdowns – both NYSPHSAA tournament records – and Batavia rolled to a 56-28 win over the Warriors on Saturday night at Clarence High School.
“He just ran all over us,” Cheektowaga coach Mike Fatta said. “We had nothing for him.”
Leach scored on runs of 34, 11, 50, 3, 33, 56, 31 and 23 yards. He broke the single-game rushing record of 299 set by Hornell’s Austin Dwyer and the single-game rushing TD record of six held by Andy Wolfe of Iroquois since 2004. He also broke two other single-game records – most total TDs (Wolfe’s 7 in that same 2004 game) and total yards (414 set by Drew Nadler of Edgemont in 1998.
These records include state regional, semifinal and final games.
“The line, it was definitely the line,” Leach said. “They were opening up great holes and I just had to read them, hit the seam and things worked out.”
What’s even more impressive is that he did it against a Cheektowaga defense that entered the game having allowed just 61 points all season long – and 33 of that came in a Week 3 loss to Pioneer, a loss that was avenged in the Section VI finals when the Panthers scored just seven points against Cheektowaga.
In all, this was just the second time all season long that a team scored more than one touchdown against Cheektowaga – and Leach knew what he was up against.
“I knew Cheektowaga’s a good team,” he said. “They looked real fast on film. I thought it was going to be hard running, but hey, my line got it done.”
The Blue Devils led 36-0 before Cheektowaga finally cracked the scoreboard on the last play of the first half, a three-yard TD pass from Keshone Beal to Jihad Butler. Beal also ran for a 10-yard TD and threw a 50-yard TD to Jayden DuBard in the second half for the Warriors, who also got an 89-yard kickoff return for a score from Fred Parsons in the third quarter.
The final result was basically the same, but the Warriors are never going to stop playing.
“We were just having fun at that point,” Beal said. “We just had to play for us because we had nothing else to do.”
Cheektowaga finishes its season at 9-2. The Warriors have won four of the last five Section VI titles and the program has no plans on going away any time soon.
“I hope my teammates get it done next year – I guess now my former teammates,” Beal said, fighting back the tears. “I’m happy with the effort; we played our hearts out and we played football the right way. We did a lot. I wish we could have done more but we did what we could and I’m proud of it.”