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Maple Grove Headed to Carrier Dome

Orchard Park – The Maple Grove Red Dragons continue their pursuit of a state title after defeating Section V’s Alexander Trojans 8-0 in the Class D regional championship held Friday night out at New Era Field. Brad Benson and Tyler Micek each scored two touchdowns to lead Maple Grove.

Both teams entered Friday’s playoff game with undefeated records. It was a shame one had to lose and the Trojans took this defeat especially hard. “There a tight knit group, 15 seniors. We came up here expecting to win” Alexander coach Tim Sawyer said after the team’s first loss of the season. “If somebody would have told me coach you’re going to play 11 games, in mid-November and at Ralph Wilson Stadium (now New Era Field) would you take it? I think I probably would take it.”

Alexander has never won a sectional title or 10 games in a season for that matter, Sawyer, now in his 10th season at the helm now knows what it takes to get to this level. “Our kids are strong and they are made for a team like Male Grove. Which is an outstanding, good, physical team.”

The difference Friday night was the strong Maple Grove backfield of senior captains Benson and Micek. The duo combined for 234 yards which accounted for all of the Red Dragons offense. Benson scored on runs of 12 and 39 while Micek had TD rushes of 6 and 4 yards respectively. On defense, Micek and Benson each had an interception. They were equally determined to help lead their team to Syracuse next weekend.

“The kid has a nose for the football, he loves playing defense” coach Curt Fischer said about Micek after the game. He fumbled early in the game but coach was quick to point out that it had a silver lining. “My OC was in my ear screaming that’s good, he’ll be really mad now.” Was he ever, Micek made some big stops on defense finishing with six bone-crushing tackles for his efforts.

“Benson is another guy that doesn’t quit, he’s the engine that could, you don’t stop him.” That was abundantly clear on this night as Benson finished with 171 yards on the ground. “We came into this game feeling very confident. We played very well. Our halftime adjustments were the difference” a smiling Benson said after the game. Before the interview could end he made it a point to thank all of our veterans.

“The fumble was a huge mental mistake on my part, I appreciate my teammates for lifting me up” Micek said. “We gotta stay enthusiastic at practice every day, especially this late in the season” he added.  

Maple Grove was without senior QB Dalton Dubois who missed the game with a sore ankle. He was injured last weekend in the win over Franklinville-Ellicottville. He believes he will be back this weekend “the ankle is getting better, doing physical therapy, should know by Tuesday or Wednesday” Dubois said. Right now he is relegated to the role of cheerleader and for now Dubois seems ok with the temporary role “It’s tough being on the sideline but I gotta be a leader off the field now.”

Mitch Padilla made 11 tackles for the Red Dragons and had an interception “We came in with a good game plan” Padilla said after the win. “We knew what we had to do and we did it.”

Maple Grove led 8-0 at the break and for a while it looked like this could go either way. Bensons first TD came a 9:05 of the 2nd quarter and neither team could effectively move the ball before that. Junior linebacker Zak Trim forced Trojans QB into throwing his first interception. Micek picked off the Alexander QB and returned it about 15 yards. Benson scored on the next play.

Benson picked up in the 3rd quarter where he left off in the second. Adding his 39 yard score before giving rushing duties too Micek.

Alexander was averaging almost 40 points a game entering Friday’s regional final. The Red Dragons defense limited the Trojans to just 142 yards of total offense. Maple Grove will face the Sydney Warriors from Class IV next Friday in Syracuse. The winner would move on to play for a state title.

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