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Niagara-Wheatfield Honors Late Teammate With Dominating Win Over NT

The box score might indicate Jordan Parks was the star of the game for the Niagara-Wheatfield High School football team in the season-opener on Saturday afternoon but everyone on the home side knew there was a much bigger contributor than Parks and his five touchdowns.

Playing their first game without Mike Ziegler, who died last March, the Falcons could not be stopped as they played for their late teammate. Wheatfield scored early and often and rolled to a 48-0 win over North Tonawanda.

“Ziggy was with me the whole game,” said Parks, who kneeled in the end zone after scoring in tribute to Ziegler. “I was just thanking Ziggy for all these opportunities I’m getting. It was a big game just because we know he’d be running around out here with us.

Ziegler’s No. 42 is painted on each 42-yard line at Terry Harvey Field. After the game, N-W players, coaches and cheerleaders knelt by Ziegler’s number in tribute.

Falcons coach Russ Nixon said. “Remember, this is a kid that put in the work too and we truly believe he was with us.”

Midway through the fourth quarter, a play that summed up the afternoon went the Falcons way. Preston Dolan’s field goal bounced off the crossbar twice and through. It was from 42 yards out.

“It’s ironic that field goal they said ended up being from 42,” coach Russ Nixon said. “We think Mikey might’ve been up there and giving him that little extra push, got it over that crossbar the second time.”

“We challenged the kids, not to play for yourselves, not even to play for each other but to play for Mike.”

The Falcons did that and in impressive fashion, collecting nearly 600 yards of offense and pitching a shutout on defense for the first time since 2014.

Parks led the way rushing for 274 yards, including touchdowns of 75 and 84 yards. He also threw three touchdowns – a 21-yarder to Tommy Peltier, a 10-yard toss to Jake DeWolf and a 46-yard bomb to Noah Mixon.

“Jordan is just a phenomenal athlete,” his coach said. “I thought he did a really a good job of letting the game come to him and not forcing anything, taking what they were giving him and when they weren’t prepared for him, making them pay for that.”

Nick Stott had a 30-yard touchdown run and Chris Gordon rushed one in from six yards away.

“We did a lot of great things today. Line did an amazing job opening up holes, worked hard during the week and then just came out and just executed.”

Meanwhile, Eric Jantzi’s debut in his return to North Tonawanda didn’t work out as planned. The Jacks had a few drives near the red zone early on with a chance to stay in the game but the Falcons defense proved too much.

“Our lack of depth showed and with the heat and kids getting cramps,” Jantzi said. “One play they scored on, we had nine people on the field so there are a lot of little things we need to take care of.”

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