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Cheektowaga Football Proves Tonawanda’s Coach Kelly Wrong; Win Handily

Photo by: Jessica Helen Brant

Eric Bartnik goes 15/25 for 260 yards and three TDs in Cheektowaga’s astonishing 65-8 win over Tonawanda in another edition of the Battle of the Warriors. Cheektowaga breaks the record they set last year for most points scored, which now stands at 65.

Tonawanda Head Coach Joe Kelly preached before the game about shutting down Stephan Parker, and he had a reason to worry about the 6’4 receiver. Parker went for 142 receiving yards on 6 catches, including a long 64 yard bomb midway through the game. Why couldn’t Tonawanda shut Parker down? Coach Kelly says it was due to the players doing what they wanted, rather than what the coaches said. “We were running assignments, and then we stopped. We stopped doing what was successful. The kids decided to do their own thing, and that doesn’t work most of the time.”

Though Parker is a valuable weapon for Central, he is not the only option for the coaches. While the team had 260 yards in the air on 15 passes, the team rushed for 313 yards on 28 carries. Seven Turpin was explosive from the get-go, running 28 yards on the team’s first drive, punching in the first touchdown of the game. Turpin finished the night with 71 yards on 12 attempts. Coming off the bench in the second half, though, was backup HB and junior Michael Gray III, and the second-stringer was even more explosive than Turpin. Gray III rushed for 170 yards on 8 carries, averaging 21.2 yards per carry, not to mention his 65 yard TD run late in the fourth quarter. Gray III says, “I’m at a loss for words. I was just running for my life, going hard, and running for my sister.” Gray III’s sister is currently fighter cancer, and he says that she is his motivation.

On the defensive side of the ball, Cheektowaga had another outstanding performance all around. With seven players on the roster weighing in at a minimum 265, it’s visible that the Cheektowaga d-line isn’t letting you get far. With big and tough to get by linemen, holes open up regularly for backers Trevor Darlak, Willie Belton, John Sweat, Adam Bellaus, and Ryan Carpenter to attack the opposing backfield. Darlak comments on the defense’s tenacity from the beginning of this game, “Coming into every game, we want to hit hard no matter how weak a team may look on paper. Coach told us that they said something about us before the game, so we came back hitting them with our pads, not with our mouths.”

As Tonawanda ran a ground and pound game, there wasn’t much going on for THS passing-wise, as they only went to the air 9 times. The lone Tonawanda touchdown came at the start of the second quarter, after a series of runs and incomplete passes, when Zack Roe punched in a 3 yard TD run. The Tonawanda Warriors would lead Cheektowaga 8-6 until less than a minute later, as Bartnik ran 5 yards to the house. The Cheektowaga Central Warriors would not look back from there on out.

Bartnik, who had an average game last week vs Dunkirk had an incredible bounce back game tonight, as stated before. He says that he learned to “never let the opponent inside your head.” He commented on what Coach Fatta told the team before the game, saying “Coach Fatta read us some quotes of what (Tonawanda Coach Kelly) said about us, and how we aren’t as good as last year’s team.” If one thing is to come out of tonight’s game, it’s this: Cheektowaga proved why they were the sectional and regional champs last year, and did it in a way that shows they may have even improved from last season. Last year, Cheektowaga beat Tonawanda 46-0 at CCHS.

In week three, Tonawanda will head to JFK to take on the Bears, and Cheektowaga will travel to Newfane on Saturday for some afternoon football.

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