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Fredonia finishes undefeated regular season with win over Dunkirk

An undefeated season is something that players will remember for a long time. For the Fredonia Hillbillies football program, however, Friday night marked the second time in four seasons that a perfect regular season was topped off with the nicest of bows — a rivalry victory over the Dunkirk Marauders.

In a rivalry that dates back 120 years, the two-decade-long streak of Fredonia dominance continued on Friday night, as the Fredonia Hillbillies defeated the Dunkirk Marauders 47-19 in a non-league high school football game at Dunkirk High School to finish off the 2021 regular season.

“All my football career, I never lost to these guys,” said Fredonia senior quarterback Nick Whitfield. “Before the game I told the seniors that we never lost to Dunkirk and I didn’t want it to happen tonight.”

The 128th Dunkirk-Fredonia rivalry game was held on Dunkirk’s Homecoming, which might have played a role in Dunkirk’s quality start to the game. The Marauders turned the first possession of the game into a 72-yard touchdown drive over the first 6:15 of the game, capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run by Noah Sikes for an early 7-0 lead.

“It’s a rivalry game and the focus was better tonight,” said Dunkirk head coach Mark Benton. “At least for a half, we played with one of the best teams in Western New York.”

But in the end, it was Fredonia (7-0, 6-0) who had every reason to celebrate on Friday night.

Nick Whitfield scored the game’s next two touchdowns for Fredonia, both on the ground. The first came on a 36-yard quarterback sweep to the left side, while the second was a scramble from the 2-yard line where Whitfield flashed his speed to beat the Dunkirk defenders to the edge to reach the end zone. Whitfield finished with five touchdowns on the night – three through the air and two on the ground.

“Nick (Whitfield) has great control and great command of the offense,” said Fredonia head coach Greg Sherlock. “The game has slowed down so much for him over the last two years, you can see the results now.”

Dunkirk (1-6, 1-5) answered on the next play with a touchdown of its own, as Ted Roberts burst through the Fredonia defense for a 69-yard touchdown run. The extra point was missed, which left Fredonia with a one-point lead with just over two minutes left in the first half.

As it turned out, Fredonia held the lead the rest of the way. Whitfield led the Hillbillies’ two-minute offense down the field and found Ethan Fry in the back-left part of the end zone on a beautifully thrown corner route for a 20-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 21-13 at halftime.

Whitfield tacked on two more touchdown passes in the second half – another one to Fry on the exact same route, as well as an 18-yard touchdown pass to Simon Davis.

Fredonia senior Matthew Lotter also had a touchdown carry of five yards, on the second play of the second half, immediately after his own 51-yard carry on the first play of the period sent the Hillbillies into the red zone.

“Those two plays were huge from Lotter – he’s a dog. Those set the tone for the second half, really,” said Whitfield.

“(Lotter’s) motor is just non-stop … and he does it in practice too. What you see out here is what he does every single day. How guys don’t get motivated just by watching him and wanting to be like that is beyond me,” added Sherlock.

Dunkirk battled multiple injuries throughout the game to key players, such as quarterback/tight end Javier DeJesus and starting quarterback Noah Sikes. The Marauders were down to their third-string quarterback among the reserves in multiple spots, but Dunkirk still fought to the end and added a 48-yard touchdown run from junior running back Quanteer Neallard early in the fourth quarter.

“I’m proud of the kids. We were pretty banged up tonight, but we hung in there,” said Benton.

Fredonia’s Micah Davis finished off the scoring on the night with an 11-yard touchdown carry to give the Hillbillies a 47-19 advantage nearly halfway through the fourth quarter.

The Fredonia victory was the fourth straight in the rivalry for the Hillbillies. Dunkirk beat Fredonia in 2015 and 2016, but Fredonia has won every other matchup dating back to the turn of the century. This latest victory is the second time in the last three meetings where Fredonia capped off an undefeated season by beating Dunkirk.

“It has nothing to do with me. We’ve got some really good kids in the program,” said Sherlock after his fourth straight win over Dunkirk as Fredonia’s head coach.

Fredonia now looks ahead to the Class C playoffs, with a home playoff game likely ahead for the Hillbillies.

“This feels great. Undefeated now going into playoffs, this was a huge tune-up game. Now we know we always have to come out fast,” said Whitfield.

Dunkirk hopes to continue its season next week in the Chuck Funke Bowl consolation tournament.

“We have four sophomores that start and a freshman that starts. I don’t think people realize how young we are. … This is a program in transition,” said Benton, in his first year back at Dunkirk taking over for Mike Sarratori. “I’m confident that we’re going to get things turned around, hopefully in a hurry. … We have better things ahead.”

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