Flyers Punch Ticket to New Era Field
For two weeks, the Maryvale High School football team has coveted a rematch with rival Cheektowaga Central after a disappointing Week 7 showing.
For 11 years, the Flyers have dreamt of playing on the Buffalo Bills’ home field for a Section VI championship.
They get both on Saturday afternoon.
No. 4 seed Maryvale punched its ticket to New Era Field with an impressive 27-8 win over top-seed Lackawanna in a Class B sectional semifinal on Saturday at Veterans Stadium.
“It’s surreal, I don’t even know what to say,” sophomore quarterback Connor Desiderio said. “This is basically what I’ve been training for my whole life. But we’re not done yet. We’re not just going there to go; we’re going there to win. This Maryvale team is not done yet; we didn’t give Central our best game last time.”
Maryvale entered an Oct. 13 showdown with Cheektowaga undefeated but left with a 28-21 loss. Round 2 comes at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.
“It feels amazing. We can go back and get that revenge. They beat us the first time but got a heckuva game coming up on Saturday,” Maryvale running back Rashad Law said. “We’re ready to show them we’re better than that. We have something to prove to them; we have something to prove to everybody.”
Lackawanna (7-2) started strong and took an 8-0 lead on Khalil Horton’s 27-yard TD run midway through the first quarter. But comebacks are nothing new for the Flyers, who rallied from two
“We always start out slow so when we went down 8-0 I wasn’t worried,” said senior running back Dylan Casey, who caught a 39-yard TD pass from Desiderio for Maryvale’s first score late in the first half. “We do it all the time. We know we just half to block, run hard and things will go our way.”
It was Casey that was responsible for the Play of the Game. Down 8-6 at halftime, Casey grabbed the second half kickoff, faked a handoff to Ray Blackwell and raced down the right sideline for an 88-yard touchdown that turned the game around.
“That was the play,” Law said. “That shifted the momentum 100 percent. They need to stop kicking to No. 4, I keep saying that.”
Law put the game firmly in the Flyers’ control with a 45-yard TD run in the third and then Jay Henley iced it with a short touchdown run in the fourth.
Maryvale (8-1) will play in the Section VI championship game for the first time since 2006 when the Flyers dropped a 20-14 heartbreaker to Lackawanna. The Flyers had thoughts of a run last season but instead suffered a 59-0 loss at Dunkirk. With that loss in mind, Maryvale was determined not to be denied this season.
“What can you say? These guys are all heart,” Flyers coach Jeff Buccieri said. “We told the guys after a disappointing finish last year that we had to rededicate ourselves. Weight room started that first week in December. This was a year-process. Getting to this position her, we were in shape, we were disciplined and we got that reward of going to the Ralph.”
Cheektowaga has beaten Maryvale four straight times dating back to 2014. The Warriors (8-1) will play in the sectional title game for a fourth straight season.
“We have the fight of our lives coming up against a Cheektowaga team that is just lights out,” Buccieri said. “You saw what they did to Dunkirk last night. We definitely didn’t play a good game against them last time. They dominated us in all aspects of the game. But it kind of refocused us into the new season. I told the guys after: ‘We’re going to find out what kind of character you guys have coming back on Monday if you guys want to continue the season or if you want to bag it in like you did last year.’ Starting that Monday, we’ve had our best practices of the season the last two weeks here after the Cheektowaga game. So maybe sometimes losing is a good thing.”