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Depth Does It For Spartans

It’s all about depth and the Spartans showed they have it.

Jason Hwang passed for two touchdowns as Williamsville North beat Kenmore West 22-12 in Section VI Class AA North action that was played at Crosby Field on Saturday.

The first league win of the year, Will-North is now 2-0 overall.

Hwang connected with Rodney Corbin for the Spartans first TD of the game with 3:45 left in the first quarter. Feeling incredible pressure from the Blue Devils defense, led by Tyler White, it appeared as if Hwang was taken down in the backfield. But he miraculously was able to escape from the rush of Ken-West players and find Corbin who was wise enough to stay in his pattern, grab the pass and find the end zone.

But when cramps and a sore shoulder severely limited Hwang’s playing time, and ended his day at QB, in the second half, it was junior Ivan Ghemmegne who crossed the goal line to put the game on ice.

“Our depth today was important,” Spartans head coach Mike Mammoliti said. “We’re fortunate to have some depth at the skill positions and they came through for us, as well as on the lines.”

Ghemmenge used every ounce of his 220 pounds to blast his way in from 8-yards out to give Will-North the 22-6 lead early in the fourth quarter.

“We executed and worked hard to make this happen,” Ghemmenge said. “We kept pushing and pushing. At the end of the game we felt we wanted it more. I wanted to thank my teammates and everyone who worked hard today out in the sun. I love them to death.”

The Spartans offense caught a break with great field possession on that first scoring drive as their defense was able to halt a Ken-West drive at midfield and forced the Blue Devils to turn the ball over on downs.

Coming into the game, Mammoliti said one of the biggest keys would be controlling the interior offensive and defensive lines and the Spartans did just that.

Their offensive line provided plenty of protection, while the defensive line brought a combination of physicality and aggressiveness the Blue Devils (1-1, 0-1) simply could not match on this day.

The pressure applied by the Spartans defensive line clearly rattled Ken-West’s rookie QB Faisal Ahmadi, who threw three interceptions in the first half. With Will-North senior free safety Anthony Maniscalco picking off all three passes.

“We’ve got a ton of big guys out there like DeSean Morgan and David Harwell,Tyler (Hochulski)” Maniscalco said. “Ivan played great today. They worked hard every single play. It’s one of the toughest jobs (playing the line) and they get the job done.”

Ahmadi, a junior, was unexpectedly called on to start after planned starting QB Andrew Fron, who started in last week’s win over Riverside, suffered a knee injury in practice on Friday. The combination of not much time to prepare and facing a top notch defense made for a tough afternoon for Ahmadi.

Senior Jamir Lynch took over behind center in the second half and gave the Blue Devils the spark they needed as he opened the third quarter by blazing 65 yards down the sideline, cutting the Spartans lead to 16-6. Lynch would also score on a 9-yard run. He ended with 101 yards rushing on 15 carries.

The Spartans defense did a solid job all day of pressuring the Blue Devils offense as Ken-West frequently had to battle touch field position to start drives, and lack of consistent success on first downs put them in a number of 3-and-long situations.

“Jamir definitely looked very good in the second half,” Ken-West head coach Johnny Haynes said. “(Faisil) he some things good in the first half. It’s his first time (starting) so I still give him credit. He hung in there. He’s a good kid, good character. A lot of talent. Being thrown in the first the first time is a little tough.”

Prior to the game, the Blue Devils honored former coach and Ken-West alum Rich Harris with a jersey presentation in a ceremony honoring his years of coaching at West, which began in 1986 as an assistant. Harris was head coach from 2001-15.

The Spartans will look to keep this momentum going against Niagara-Wheatfield as they head into an historic week when they open their new turf field stadium on Sept.16 and play their first-ever varsity night game (7pm).

“JV warmed it up for us,” Maniscalco said with a smile.

Hwang also hit Brett Isler for a TD pass that made it 13-0 and Eddie Bianco connected on a field goal that extended the lead to 16-0.

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