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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Next Generation Of Legends Begins Championship Chase In Impressive Fashion

There’s nobody named Giordano on this year’s Lancaster High School football roster. Or Andreessen, Damiani, Mazur, Hersey, Samborski or Castillo. There’s a Mansell but a new one.

Indeed, the big names that re-wrote the school record books and led the Legends to back-to-back Section VI championships and last year’s state final have graduated. And unless you go to Lancaster you may not know about these current Legends. But if Friday night is any indication, you’re going to learn real quick.

The expectations of success have not graduated and that was on display in the opener as Lancaster opened its run at a third straight championship season with an impressive 54-22 win over Lockport at Foyle-Kling Field.

“This year, a lot of people don’t know many of our names,” receiver Shawn Davis said. “So it’s good to make a statement and hopefullly we can get our names out there and do the things we did last year.”

Lancaster has won 21 straight games against Western New York teams and 16 straight regular season games, dating back to 2015. But the mainstays from that group – including 16 seniors from last year’s team – have graduated.

That opens the door for a new group and so far, it’s business as usual.

“It’s a credit to these kids,” said Eric Rupp, who improved to 23-2 as Lancaster’s head coach. “They know there’s a target planted on their back and they want to prove that, we lost a lot of talent the last two years, but we still have plenty of talent here.”

Lancaster’s run of dominance began in the 2016 season-opener, a dominationg 31-14 win at perennial contender Williamsville South. The opening kickoff of that game was returned for a touchdown by Kyle Backert, one of those 16 seniors that walked across the stage last June for Lancaster.

The new era didn’t begin quite as well. On the first play from scrimmage on Friday night, Lockport connected for a 90-yard touchdown pass from Nick Cascia to Malik Brooks.

But, using Rupp’s often-used advice: “Never get too high, never get too low,” the Legends bounced right back, scoring the game’s next 54 points. “The first play didn’t go our way,” said senior running back Brandon Wingard, who scored three touchdowns for the Legends. “But we just fought back and it went our way the rest of the way.”

Wingard and Codie Scotland, who scored two touchdowns made a strong statement that Lancaster’s new commitee backfield will still be a force. The Legends have had 1,000-yard backs in each of the last three seasons (Zach Samborski in 2015 and 16 and Andrew Hersey last year) and even though those guys have graduated, Lancaster is still confident in its ground game.

“We might not have a feature back this year,” Rupp said, “but we have three kids that we feel comforftable putting in any sitation and we’re just going to do what’s best for the team.”

There’s also a new Mansell in town after record-setting quarterback Ryan Mansell graduated after last season. Jason Mansell, one of Lancaster’s two “starting” quarterbacks, opened his varsity career with a TD throw to Nick Meara. Gianluca Fulciniti ran for a TD and threw a two-point conversion to senior Brian Martin. The competition is still alive and with two capable guys, there may never be a need to choose a true starter.

“I thought they both did well,” Rupp said. “We’re comfortable playing them both. They both have their different strengths and we’re comfortable using them both. The each have a certain set of plays and we’re just going to get a feel as the game goes on. I’m not ready to name one or the other the starter. We’re going to take it week-by-week. If one of them seperates themself then we’ll roll with that guy. But I’m comforable with a two-quarterback system.”

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