Hornets suffer heartbreaking loss to West as time expires

A big, enthusiastic crowd turned out this past weekend to witness Honesdale’s final home game of the 2017 Lackawanna Football Conference season.

On Friday evening, local fans bid a fond farewell to 10 players honored during pre-game Senior Night ceremonies.

“These kids were sophomores when I took over the varsity,” Coach Mike Jurkowski said. “So, we’ve worked hard to learn and grow together. I can’t say enough about them.

“They’ve meant so much to this program and they’re really going to be missed.”

Hometown partisans also stood and cheered as school officials orchestrated Honesdale’s first Veterans Appreciation Night.

All past and active servicemen and women were admitted to the game free of charge. They were recognized individually over the public address system throughout the game and featured during a patriotic halftime show.

The highlight of the night, though, came when a pair of local World War II veterans took center stage for the coin toss.

Bernie Derrick and Jim Byrnes accompanied Hornet team captains to midfield.

There, to thunderous applause and under the watchful eye of referee Tom Finan, they flipped a ceremonial coin provided specially for the event.

“It’s a fantastic idea and I hope it becomes an annual tradition,” Coach Jurkowski said. “All of us, players and coaches, were honored to be a part of it.”

All the special ceremonies, which were organized by athletic director Diane Scarfalloto, went off seamlessly.

Sadly for Red & Black fans, however, the same can’t be said for the game itself. Honesdale let a fourth quarter lead slip away as West Scranton scored the game’s final 10 points en route to a heartbreaking 29-28 loss ... the final nail in the proverbial coffin being a a game-winning 21-yard field goal as time expired.

“I’m very proud of this team,” said Coach Jurkowski. “The effort was the best I’ve seen in a long time. The kids fought tooth and nail right down to the last play and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

This victory was the first of the season for West. The Invaders are now 1-7 heading into a Week Nine showdown with Prep.

Meanwhile, the Hornets will close out their campaign with back-to-back road games. The local lads travel to North Pocono Friday night then finish up at Valley View on Oct. 27.

Dynamic Duo

Honesdale got on the board first on Senior Night ... and fittingly enough, it was a senior who did the honors.

Tough-as-nails fullback Beau Freiermuth brought the crowd to its feet early, breaking loose for an electrifying 43-yard touchdown run. Robbie Campen drilled the extra point and, with 8:26 remaining in the first quarter, the Hornets led 7-0.

Freiermuth would finish up with 90 yards rushing on just eight carries.

As impressive as Beau’s performance was, it was backfield mate and fellow senior Garyn Barnes who stole the show.

Honesdale’s tailback had missed the previous two weeks with a concussion, but returned with a vengeance. Barnes shredded the Invaders front seven all night long, closing out his contest with 134 yards on 20 attempts.

The highlight of Garyn’s Maple City swan song was a pair of touchdown runs The first came from nine yards out early in the second period and the second from 32 yards away with 9:06 remaining in regulation.

“Garyn was ready to play tonight,” Coach Jurkowski said. “That’s the best I’ve seen him run all season. He really wanted it.”

High Octane

As has often been the case over the years, West Scranton possesses an offense whose quick-strike capability it truly scary.

The Invaders proved that point early on.

Trailing 7-0, Zakeem Vassel fielded the ensuing kickoff at his own 13 and was off to the races. Vassel jetted 87-yards untouched to the Hornet endzone. Moments later, Shayne Merrifield tacked on the PAT, tying the score at 7-7.

Merrifield played a crucial role in this game for West. The Invader wideout caught six passes for a 104 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown with just 14 seconds left in the first half.

Defense! Defense!

Even though this was a high-scoring game, several Hornets turned in stellar defensive efforts.

Freiermuth was his usual hard-hitting self. The senior inside linebacker was staunch against the run, helping hold West under 100 yards rushing on 37 carries.

Ethan Dunn provided suffocating pass coverage throughout the game. His biggest contribution came in the fourth quarter when he knocked down an Invader pass for two points that could have tied the score.

Justin LoBasso terrorized the Invaders all evening. Playing both from a two and three-point stance, the junior end recorded a pair of sacks in key situations.

LoBasso also delivered offensively, hauling in an eight-yard touchdown pass from Dunn in the third quarter.

Without question, though, Cameron Baker was Honesdale’s top defensive player on this night.

A junior who excels both at outside backer and in the secondary, Baker made plays from sideline to sideline against West. He recorded a team-high 11 tackles, blocked a conversion try and made a touchdown saving tackle on a kick return.

“I don’t know if we have anyone who works harder,” Coach Jurkowski said. “He puts his heart and soul into everything he does in practice and games.

“Cam is a great kid who will do absolutely anything to help the team.”

In the End

Ultimately, the difference in this game came down to West’s ability to make big plays in crucial situations.

Andre Chollette Jr. tallied two second half touchdowns and also got the Invaders in position to kick a game-winning field goal as time expired.

“We had a hard time covering their speed guys, especially deep down the field,” Coach Jurkowski said. “Overall, I think we played very well on both sides of the ball.

“They just made one more play than we did and beat us by one point.”

Score by Quarters...
WES (1-7) 7 6 6 9 – 29
HON (2-6) 7 7 7 7 – 28