STIFF ARM — Joe Tripi tries to get away from a would-be tackler, in Eden’s Class B semifinal loss at Depew. Photo by Jeffrey Barnes.
From the beginning of the season, Eden head coach Chuck Tilley said he knew new division mates Depew and Alden would present difficult challenges, even for his senior-laden team, in Class B.
Aside from a surprising loss at East Aurora, those two football powers would be the only ones to beat the Raiders during their 5 – 4 season, which included a trip to the sectional semifinals.
One of those losses to Class B’s big dogs came on Nov. 1, as host Depew secured its trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium with a 39 – 11 win against Eden.
Eden had proved that it was a challenge for the best of Class B in week two, when it took Alden down to the final minute. The Raiders were a bigger test for Depew on Friday than they were in a week six loss on that same field. But it was still not enough against a team with a roster nearly double the size of the Raiders’.
Depew will play Alden in the Class B championship game on Nov. 9 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bulldogs won 21 – 12 against Burgard on Friday.
“I knew, when I saw the way our division was set up, that we could probably beat every team except for Alden and Depew,” Tilley said. “And they’re the two teams going to The Stadium, and I said, ‘They’re probably the best two teams in Class B.’ We almost beat Alden and we battled Depew pretty tough tonight.”
Depew has been hoping for another chance at rival Alden for more than a month, since losing to the Bulldogs 28-7. “It’s feels amazing; it’s every kid’s dream here, to play at The Ralph,” Wildcats senior running back Nick Perinne said. “We’re excited to play Alden again. We want payback.”
Playing without running back Rodney Turner, who watched from the sideline on crutches after sustaining an injury in a week seven loss to Lancaster, Depew still rushed for more than 300 yards and five touchdowns.
Dan Golba ran for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 24 carries and added an interception on defense and punt block on special teams. Perinne added 113 yards and two more scores on six carries and fullback Nick Yelich plunged in for a 1-yard TD on his only carry of the evening. Wildcats’ quarterback Dylan Sekuterski threw for 115 yards, including a 62-yard TD strike to his brother, Derrick.
The Raiders were led by senior running back Alex Smyth, who collected 186 yards and a touchdown. Nick Sarratori added a 26-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion toss to Jesse Vondell. Eden got into the red zone on three other occasions in the game, and on those drives, were unable to record points.