By JAMES GENSTERBLUM / Daily News Correspondent
For the first time in nearly a decade, the Pittsford Wildcats find themselves in an unfamiliar position.
Having lost three games already this season, the Wildcats can’t afford another defeat if they want to guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs.
However, if Pittsford is feeling the heat, they didn’t show it on Friday night, dominating the visiting Waldron Spartans in every facet of the game to win 42-0 and move to 4-3 on the season.
“These kids have been through some very tough games so far this season,” said Pittsford head coach Bob Clement. “They’ve been through the fire and they’re battle tested now. We keep getting better and better as the season goes on, and hopefully this is the start of something big for us.”
The Wildcats took advantage of sloppy conditions after several days of rain by pounding the ball on the ground, racking up 265 yards rushing on 41 carries. Leading the way was senior quarterback Garet Lee, who rushed for 138 of those yards and two touchdowns.
“It’s all about heart,” said Lee, who also had a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown, “When you get to this stage of the season, the teams that get to go to the playoffs are the ones that want it more. Our collective will has to be stronger than everyone else’s if we’re going to make it.”
Running back Taylor Hatfield carried the ball 13 times for 64 yards and a touchdown, and Kurtis Brackman added 46 yards and a touchdown of his own. The Wildcats didn’t attempt a single pass in the game, but didn’t need to as their linemen controlled the line of scrimmage all game.
“In order to be successful we have to be tough, mentally and physically, and we have to execute every down,” Hatfield said. “We’ve worked extremely hard to be the best we can be and it’s paying off right now.”
The Wildcats defense was as unstoppable as the offense, holding the Spartans to 75 yards of total offense. Waldron had just six total first downs in the game, and three of those came with a running clock in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense stepped up in a lot of ways,” Clement said. “They played with passion tonight and executed the gameplan well.”
For the Spartans, it was a night where nothing seemed to go right. Early in the first quarter, after giving up an opening drive touchdown to the Wildcats, Waldron’s long snapper snapped the ball over the punter’s head, giving the Wildcats the ball inside the 5-yard line, setting up an easy touchdown.
Later in the first half, Waldron coach Jimmy Biggs tried to catch Pittsford off balance by installing lineman Danny Moore at running back, resulting in the team’s lone first down of the half. However, the Wildcats quickly adjusted, and the Spartans couldn’t find a counter to Pittsford’s athletic defense.
Quarterback Dylan Emens was 2-for-8 passing with 14 yards, and John Emens carried the ball 14 times for 25 yards to lead the Spartans.
It didn’t help their cause that wideout Fletcher Masters was out with an injury for a large portion of the contest.
Next up for the Wildcats is a crucial game against league foe Battle Creek St. Phil.
The Tigers beat Pittsford last season to win the SCAA championship, and at 5-2 are looking to punch their own ticket into the playoffs.
“It’s all about hard work from here on out,” Hatfield said. “We have to put our time in on the practice field and in the film room if we want to get it done.”