Saturday September 7, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Cam Coon racked up more than 300 all-purpose yards in Frontier\'s 38-12 win over Clarence to kick off the 2013 Western New York High School football season. (Photo by Ron Larson)
A statement wasn’t just made by Frontier in running away with a season-opening win over Clarence; Cameron Coon also enjoyed a coming out party of his own.
The senior tailback piled up more than 300 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns using his breakaway ability as the Falcons began a season with high expectations by earning a 38-12 win in a Class AA showdown.
“Since the first day of camp, the only goal, the only thing we focused on was just beat Clarence and then move on to the next test. We’ve got one down, the next one to go,” Coon said.
“We have a lot of guys playing both ways and hardly ever get a break but we’re giving it every single thing we’ve got on every play,” he added. “It’s all about the guy to my left and the guy to my right. We play for each other. This group has probably been the closest group I’ve ever been a part of in the sport.”
Coon ran for 150 yards and two scores in the first half, then added an electric 80-yard kickoff return on the ensuing kickoff after Clarence had cut the Frontier lead to 24-12 in the third quarter.
A third-year varsity player, Coon nearly exceeded his yards rushing from all of last season in just one game, finishing with 175 yards on only 12 carries. He also made some crucial defensive plays to help slow down a Clarence offense that drove down the field at will on its first possession.
“Cam had like five solo tackles out there, too,” Frontier head coach Tim Myslinski noted. “He was voted captain and he had the most votes from the team. I think it’s his work ethic. He’s worked so hard in the weight room and during the offseason.”
Frontier quarterback Tyler Gaglia loses his helmet on a running play. (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Myslinski also credited the play of senior first-year starting quarterback Tyler Gaglia, who finished with 67 yards on the ground and ran the offense effectively in his varsity debut. With Clarence keying on the dive play to three-year starting fullback Kenny Kahler, Gaglia made many of the correct reads by pitching the ball with regularity and finding running room of his own, according to Myslinski.
“Tyler learned and listened and we were so proud of the way he ran that offense,” Myslinski said. “He and Cam were a one-two punch. Kenny ran the ball hard. I think coming into the game they were not expecting Tyler to play the game he did. I think they were focusing on playing the dive because Kenny is a three-year starter. And I think from that, it really opened up some other stuff for us.”
Paul Brinkel also did some damage on the ground in his few opportunities. The junior ran for touchdowns on his first two carries, a nine-yard score in the second quarter and then a 63-yard touchdown in the final seconds of the third. The junior also picked off a pass in the opening quarter to help turn the tide of the game.
Emaure Williams put Clarence up 6-0 with a 13-yard touchdown which capped off an eight-play, 60-yard march on his team’s opening drive, but the Frontier defense settled in the rest of the half and then allowed only one more scoring drive.
The explosive Red Devils' senior back got off to a quick start but was held relatively in check with 73 yards on 15 carries. He also was slowed by a second quarter knee injury. Clarence junior Brendan Ruszala also contributed some impressive runs throughout the game.
Frontier\\\'s defense swarmed Clarence for much of the game. The Falcons allowed only two scoring drives. (Photo by Jeffery T. Barnes)
“Clarence runs a violent and physical offense — we’ve been repping it since we saw Clarence was the first team on our schedule,” said Myslinski, who credited Mark Privateer and Joe Fasciana for their defensive gameplan. “They’ve got some great talent and are well coached by Mark Layer. Our defense bent but did not break and got a couple of big turnovers.”
Frontier answered and took a 7-6 first quarter lead with Coon’s two-yard touchdown run, which was followed by one of five successful extra points from Adrian Cannon. On the ensuing Clarence drive, Brinkel picked off a pass lofted down the field by Clarence quarterback Lex Oakes.
Brinkel then hit pay dirt seven plays later from nine yards out and Frontier extended its lead to 14-6 in the first minute of the second quarter. In between two big stops by the Frontier defense, Coon took a pitch from Gaglia and got loose for a 45-yard touchdown down the left sideline to extend that lead to 15 points.
Before that six-play, 91-yard drive, the Falcons stopped a potential Clarence scoring drive as Kevin Hamilton knocked down a fourth-down pass play. The Red Devils reached the Frontier 35 on its next drive before Coon made a crucial open-field tackle on Ruszala, who came up two yards shy on a fourth-and-10 pass play.
After Cannon added a 35-yard field goal early in the third quarter, senior fullback Joe Weslowski capped a 10-play drive with a three-yard touchdown to bring the Red Devils to within 12 points. However, Coon squashed Clarence’s comeback chances on the ensuing kickoff, bouncing off a few initial tacklers before finding daylight and bursting through an opening in the middle for a score.
After Brinkel’s long scoring run late in the third quarter, Frontier’s defense held Clarence without a first down in the fourth. Hamilton and Licata each recorded a sack for Frontier, which also forced a second half fumble.
Defensive standout AJ Licata gets into the action on offense during Frontier\\\'s win. (Photo by Jeffery T. Barnes)
Opening holes for the Falcons’ runners was an offensive line of four juniors and a senior. They include lone senior Will Kirkwood at right guard, Paul Strawbrich at right tackle, Blake Podger at center, Justin DeLaRosa at left guard and Derek Dorr at left tackle.
“The line opened up great holes all day,” Coon said. “A lot of the credit is always given to the tailbacks and the quarterbacks, but the linemen are the ones that really made it happen today.”
At halftime, Myslinski looked at his father, one of his assistants and an O-line coach at Rome Free Academy for 35 years, who said to him: “'They’re kicking some butt out there. They’re firing off the ball, blocking until the whistle' — all of the things that we preach. I think their play helped Tyler and Cameron really run that offense.”