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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Marauders Overcome Odds, Make History

Never count out Dunkirk, they will prove you wrong.

Some predicted the #4 Marauders would finish last in Class B South; they got a home playoff game.

Many predicted Maryvale would beat the Marauders in Dunkirk in the quarterfinals; the Marauders dominated the Flyers.

And almost everyone predicted, that the two-time defending Class B Champs and top seed Cheektowaga, would beat Dunkirk. The Marauders again proved everyone wrong, defeating the Warriors 46-35 to win the Section VI Class B Football Championship, their first in school history.

“Go ahead and count us out, that’s motivation. We like being the underdog,” said Dunkirk Marauders Head Coach Mike Sarratori.

The first half was a fast paced back-and-forth affair. Many once again counted out Dunkirk as the Warriors jumped out to a 14-0 lead but the Marauders responded right back with two scores of their own before the first quarter came to an end.

The teams then traded touchdowns. The only difference came after the scores, as the Marauders converted all of their two-point conversions, giving them a 32-28 lead at the half.

QB Eric Bartnik had a part in three of the five Warrior touchdowns. Bartnik was 22-37 for 224 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions through the air in his final game for Cheektowaga.

“Eric went from a fledging QB and had to replace a legendary player in Zak Ciezki,” said Cheektowaga Warriors Head Coach Mike Fatta. “His character and his work ethic put him to be in a position to be one of the best players in Western New York.”

Dunkirk knew they would lose a shootout to the Warriors, so in the second half the Marauders made a concerted effort to slow down the game. Dunkirk finished the game with a 30:28 time of possession.

The Warriors defense made a big goal line stand after Dunkirk had driven down the field. However, on the ensuing drive, Bartnik was picked off by Jaziah Rivera. The Marauders took advantage, as Alton Ingram scored from 10 yards out to give the Marauders the 40-28 lead to start the fourth.

But Cheektowaga wasn’t going away. The Warriors marched 66 yards down the field, ending with a one yard touchdown run by Michael Gray III, to bring Cheektowaga within one score of the Marauders.

The Dunkirk rushing attack then wore down the Warriors defense, holding the ball for the last eight minutes of the game, ending on QB Evon Hernandez’s second touchdown of the game.

That Dunkirk rushing attack finished with the game with 421 yards.

“(The offensive line) is not that big, but they have great feet,” said Sarratori. “We do a lot of cross-fold blocking and they get around.”

Head Coach Mike Sarratori took over the program two years ago after Dunkirk had not won a game in 2013.

“It’s a great feeling, I think we really deserved it with all the hard work we have done over these past two years with Coach Sarratori,” said Ingram. “Hard work pays off.”

Ingram was the Marauders’ leading rusher, picking up 224 yards on 28 carries and three touchdowns.

The Warriors were the number one seed and two-time defending Section VI Class B Champions coming into Saturday’s game. They had also beaten Dunkirk 27-13 when the two teams met in week 1.

“It was a 50-50 game coming in here, they’re a good football team,” said Fatta. “They earned every inch they got, they’re the better team.”

Dunkirk now moves on to the Far West Regionals against Batavia next Saturday back at New Era Field at 6:30pm.

“We were supposed to be last, but we overcame the odds,” said Hernandez. “We still keep going, we still have another week.”

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