N  I  A  G  A  R  A      G  A  Z  E  T  T  E      October 26, 2008


Published: October 26, 2008 12:00 am   

HS FOOTBALL: Vikings keep on winning

By Nate Beutel
GRAND ISLAND — Just when you thought Alex Neutz had done it all, the Grand Island senior made you shake your head in disbelief once again.

Neutz, one of the favorites for the Connolly Cup, returned the opening kickoff of the second half 78 yards for a touchdown to put visiting Cheektowaga away in a Section VI Class A quarterfinal that saw the Vikings win 22-6.

“That was another big one from Alex,” GI coach Dean Santorio said. “We talked about coming out and making a big play and the return was certainly that. Credit Rich Amantia with the block that sprung Neutz, too.”

GI also started the game strong, establishing its running game in the damp and cool conditions. Midway through the first quarter, senior tailback Eddie Weiser busted a 30-yard run for a score on a fourth-and-inches play.

Then just before the quarter ended and the weather took a turn for the worse, senior quarterback Joe Oliverio and Neutz hooked up on an 18-yard fade pattern that went for six.

“While the weather was still decent, it was important to get a couple scores,” Santorio explained. “Then when it got nasty we decided to not get too crazy with the play calling and just run our basic stuff.”

The Vikings also relied heavily on their defense and the unit responded with a plethora of big plays. Following an Oliverio interception midway through the second quarter, the Vikings forced the Warriors to turn the ball over on downs. Then on Cheektowaga’s next possession, Matt Krupczyk intercepted a pass to kill a drive before halftime.

The second half saw more of the same, with the Warriors continuously going three-and-out. The lone bright spots for Cheektowaga (4-4 overall) were a number of late passes that led to its only score. Quarterback Clay Reeb found Nick McLean from 6 yards out for a touchdown with 7:45 left in the fourth quarter.

Still, a few tough runs from Weiser (16 carries, 89 yards) and Andy LaLonde (20 carries, 55 yards) and a big sack from Ryan Harnden put the Vikings (7-1) into next week’s semifinals. LaLonde had 11 tackles and Brett Dlugosz added nine stops for GI, which will travel to Iroquois for a 7 p.m. matchup Friday.

“(Saturday) we were ready to win ugly and we did that,” Santorio said. “The defensive effort was fantastic. Hopefully we can continue to play well next week.”