VARDEN — Not even an unforgettable performance from Robbie Siclari could save Western Wayne from a heartbreaking loss this past weekend.
On Friday night, the Wildcats welcomed Riverside to Sharkey Rosetti Memorial Stadium for a crucial Week Six Lackawanna Football Conference showdown...a game that would go a long way toward determining the post season fate of both teams.
The Vikings are once again right in the thick of a divisional championship chase, while the 'Cats are looking to make a late-season push for at least an Eastern Conference playoff bid.
"Time's running out on us," Coach Allen 'Butch' Keller told TWI Sports. "When we have all 11 kids on the same page, we're dynamite. When we don't, we're in big trouble."
This one came down to a wildly entertaining battle between two of the LFC's top stars: Nick Dranchak of Riverside and Western Wayne's Siclari. Dranchak directed an explosive offense that piled up more than 500 yards of total offense.
Siclari did everything in his power to push his team over the top. Western Wayne's senior tailback exploded for 259 yards on 26 carries. Robbie also scored three touchdowns, but the 'Cats came up just a bit short.
When the final gun sounded on this emotional rollercoaster ride, Riverside had escaped with a wild 34-27 win.
"That was a terrible loss," a dejected Coach Keller said. "They didn't beat us, we beat ourselves. They couldn't stop us on offense, but we made so many silly mistakes. I'm very disappointed."
With this gut-wrenching setback, Western Wayne saw its overall record fall to 2-4 on the season. Next up for the 'Cats is a Week Seven home game with Mid Valley.
That Division II encounter is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start in Varden.
Dranchak is quickly emerging as one of the LFC's top all-round scoring threats.
On Friday night, Riverside's senior quarterback turned in an effort that won't soon be forgotten by fans of either team.
Dranchak fired the opening salvo early in the first quarter. The 5'11" gunslinger hooked up with Nico Munley on a 60-yard scoring strike. The Vikes' junior wideout was Dranchak's favorite target all night long, hauling in four passes for an eye-popping 236 yards and four TDs.
"Don't get me wrong: they're good players, but we made them look like superheroes," Coach Keller said. "We missed assignments, missed tackles, lined up in the wrong place. It was really sad."
Faced with an early deficit, Western Wayne turned to Siclari to even the score.
Robbie didn't disappoint. He capped the Wildcats' first drive with a 1-yard plunge, then closed out the opening stanza with a 28-yard touchdown run. By the time he was through on this remarkable night, Siclari would shred Riverside's defense for nearly 260 yards and three TDs.
Page 2 of 2 - "Robbie had about nine unbelievable runs," Coach Keller said. "We were just crushing people on sweeps and counters. He was breaking tackles and dragging guys with him. It was neat to watch."
Dranchak and Munley connected twice more before intermission. The first came on a 63-yard laserbeam and the second on a 19-yard toss. Those two players also combined for a 2-point conversion, knotting things 20-all at halftime.
The Bitter End
Siclari's final touchdown of the evening came late in the second quarter from 32 yards out.
Although he continued to run hard after the break, Riverside managed to keep him corraled the rest of the way.
James Berger got into the act as time wound down in regulation. The senior flanker scampered in from the 7-yardline. And, when Frank Juhasz tacked on the PAT, Western Wayne had itself a 27-20 lead with 10 minutes left.
Dranchak and Munley refused to fold, though. Nick unleashed yet another bomb on the 'Cats shell-shocked secondary. This last TD toss covered 50 yards and evened the score once again.
The 'Cats pinned Riverside deep in its own end of the field and appeared to have finally seized momentum. However, Dranchak capped his scintillating night in explosive fashion.
Riverside's savvy signal caller sidestepped an all-out blitz, split Western Wayne's defense in two and raced 96 yards right down the middle of the field for a game-clinching touchdown.
"You have to give the kid credit, but that never should have happened," Coach Keller said. "We were out of position and when we did have a shot at him, we missed the tackle."
Score by Quarters...
WW (2-4) 14 6 0 7 - 27
RIV (4-2) 6 14 0 14 - 34