After the first two weeks of the 2009 season, the Pittsford Wildcats looked like they might be on the outside looking in come playoff time for the first time in a long time.
However, the beatdown the Wildcats put on the visiting Eau Claire Fighting Beavers on Friday night to open the playoffs is all the evidence you need that Pittsford belongs in football’s second season.
The Wildcats did whatever they wanted in the game, finding success though the air and the ground offensively and dominating defensively, to win by a comfortable 36-0 margin.
Not bad for a team that was sitting at 3-3 four weeks ago and needed three straight wins to get into the playoffs.
“Our kids just came out hungry tonight,” said Pittsford coach Bob Clement. “They executed the gameplan to perfection and they hit as hard as they’ve hit all season on both sides of the ball. It’s great to see them carry over that intensity that got us into the playoffs and make use of it right away.”
Pittsford was led by a stellar effort from their defensive unit. The Wildcats held the Beavers to a paltry 65 yards of total offense, nearly thirty of which came against Pittsford’s second string after the game was out of reach.
“They were just flying to the ball tonight,” Clement said. “We told them before the game that they would have to key on the opposition’s number five (QB/HB Josh Gaisler) and they got a hat on him behind the line of scrimmage nearly every time he touched the ball.”
Senior Garet Lee had eight tackles, and Taylor Hatfield and Kurtis Brackman each had six, while junior Kyle Wyatt had a fumble recovery.
On offense the Wildcats scored three touchdowns on the ground and added two more through the air to overwhelm Eau Claire.
Hatfield struck first for Pittsford, scoring from 34 yards out early in the first quarter, and added another score later in the half, this one from five yards out, to finish with 62 yards on 9 carries.
Brackman got the third score of the game on an 11-yard run to open the third quarter, finishing with seven carries for 43 yards.
“Our rushing offense is so tough because we have so many options in the backfield and our offensive line blocks so well to open things up for us up front,” Hatfield said. “We just hit the holes they create and try to get as many yards as we can.”
Lee finished as the team’s leading rusher with 10 carries for 86 yards, and also got to showcase his arm, going 3-4 through the air for two touchdowns, to seniors Zac Broughman and Jake Osborne.
The multi-talented dual-threat QB also returned a punt 50 yards to set up a score and ran in a two-point conversion after a bad snap on an extra point try.
The victory over the Beavers puts the Wildcats into the district finals for the second straight year, and sends Pittsford on the road to face a familiar foe, conference opponent Colon.
The Magi beat the Wildcats 34-14 in their first meeting in week two of the regular season, but the Wildcats appear to be playing considerably better football than when they first faced Colon, having allowed just six total points in the last four weeks.
“It’s an exciting position to be in because we get to face someone we’re familiar with, and we also know that it’s win or go home from here on out,” Brackman said. “We need a great week of practice and hard work, and hopefully if we do that we’ll have the opportunity to take home a district title.”