By James Gensterblum / Daily News Correspondent
One could forgive Pittsford coach Bob Clement if he had wanted to take a minute to talk about himself on Friday night. After all, winning his 200th game as a head coach is certainly a rare enough accomplishment.
Clement, however, brushed off questions about his milestone, choosing instead to focus on his latest group of Pittsford Wildcats, who had just finished off conference foe Battle Creek St. Philip in a 20-0 contest.
“It’s a nice accomplishment, certainly, but in my opinion it pales in comparison to what our kids accomplished tonight,” Clement said. “Two weeks ago we had our backs to the wall, and they responded with effort and intensity and got us to one game away from being back in the playoffs. They’re a tough group and they’re getting better every week, and I can’t ask for more than that.”
Friday’s game marked another important occasion for the Wildcats: senior night for a group that contributed greatly to Pittsford’s success over the years.
Playing in what will likely be his last home game for Pittsford, senior Garet Lee in particular put on another show for Wildcats fans.
Lee led the team in rushing, carrying the ball 14 times for 83 yards, and went 4-7 for 41 yards through the air, hitting wideout Seth Weber and tight end Zac Broughman for touchdowns.
On defense, Lee made his mark felt as well, intercepting a pass on the goal line late in the fourth quarter and running it back 99 yards for Pittsford’s final score of the night.
“It’s a lot of mixed emotions,” Lee said. “The fact that this was my last home game didn’t hit me right away, but it hit me hard when it did. It’s gone by so fast. You want it to last forever, to still be strapping on your helmet and going out there when next season rolls around. Still, I’ve had a lot of great memories and I’m ready to make some more before I’m done.”
Lee had plenty of help from the rest of the Wildcats, especially on defense. Pittsford forced four Tigers turnovers, including three through the air, and set up both of Lee’s passing touchdowns by giving the offense short fields.
All told, the Tigers managed just 160 yards of total offense against the Wildcats, who pitched their second shutout in a row.
“After starting 0-2, we talked about getting back to what Pittsford does best: smash-mouth football,” said linebacker Kurtis Brackman. “We figured out what we needed to do to get that attitude back in our football team, and what you’ve seen in the last two weeks is the result of that.”
The win over the Tigers also avenges a heart-breaking loss last year to St. Phil’s, one that cost the Wildcats a chance at a title.
“Revenge was definitely on our minds tonight,” Lee said. “I’d be lying if I said that we weren’t fired up about getting a chance to get back at them for last season. It was a big factor in our preparation all week.”
With the victory, Pittsford now stands at 5-3 on the season. The Wildcats need one more victory to ensure a berth in the playoffs, but must travel on the road to Cascades Conference team Vandercook Lake, an opponent nearly double Pittsford’s size in enrollment.
“We’re not worried about making the playoffs; we feel very confident,” Brackman said. “We’re fired up and extremely hungry. We know how important the streak of playoff seasons is to the school and we don’t want to be the ones to let it end. I wouldn’t bet against us.”