Western Wayne will host its first-ever District Two playoff game
Western Wayne’s historic season will continue for at least one more week.
The Wildcats rallied from a third quarter deficit Friday night, eventually dealing West Scranton a 27-19 loss in Week 10 Lackawanna Football Conference action.
Dylan Walck and Kobe Sauter paced the attack. Walck rushed and passed for more than 100 yards, while Sauter scored a pair of crucial touchdowns.
With this electrifying win, Coach Randy Wolff’s squad closed out its regular season with a 7-3 record.
The local lads have not only qualified for the Class AAA tournament, but they have also earned the right to host their first-ever District Two game.
“I’m so proud of this team,” Coach Wolff said.
“Winning the Eastern Conference title last year was a big step for our program. That created some real momentum heading into the off-season.
“These kids works extremely hard and now all those hours of hard work are really paying off.”
Western Wayne enters the AAA tourney as the second seed. The Wildcats will take on third-ranked Lake Lehman, which is 6-4 and coming off a lopsided loss at the hands of Dallas.
“They’re a big, physical team that wants to run the ball downhill,” Coach Wolff said of the Knights.
“I’m expecting a hard-fought, exciting game.”
Opening kick-off is slated for 7 p.m. Friday night at Sharkey Rosetti Memorial Stadium.
On the Attack
Western Wayne's offense struggled in the early going versus a fired-up, physical West Scranton defense.
The Invaders held the Wildcats to just one score in the first half, leaving the game tied 6-6 at the break.
However, the visitors slowly began exerting their will after the break. Coach Wolff unveiled a brand new attack in the third and fourth periods … one for which the home team had no answers.
Walck began taking direct snaps from center in a type of 'Wildcat' formation and executing a variety of RPOs (“run-pass option”) that are so prevalent now in the NFL and college.
The scheme worked like a dream as Walck sliced apart the Invaders' front seven, tallying three second half touchdowns and piling up more than 400 yards of total offense on the night.
“It was something we worked hard on during practice this past week,” Coach Wolff said. “Dylan did a great job. We just wanted to put in a new wrinkle and not be quite so predictable or easy to game plan against.”
Walck was nothing short of dynamic.
A junior who plays wide receiver, running back and quarterback, Dylan rushed for 139 yards. He also dissected West's secondary, completing 9-of-11 passes for 109 yards.
“There's no secret when it comes to Dylan: He's one of the best playmakers in the entire league,” Coach Wolff said. “We want the ball in Dylan's hands as often as possible. He's quick and very explosive. Plus, he has excellent vision and makes good decisions.”
In the Endzone
The Wildcats got on the board first in this one as Sauter powered his way into the endzone midway through the first quarter from two yards out.
However, West was quick to retaliate, unveiling another of the LFC's top playmakers. Senior tailback Andre Chollette ran wild on this particular night, scoring all three Invader TDs and amassing a season-best 198 yards rushing.
Chollette broke free on a 67-yard gallop late in the opening stanza, then added a 5-yard score with 8:13 left in the first half.
Sauter struck back, though, slashing his way to another TD early in the third period. Kobe would close out his night with 92 yards on 19 carries.
“We've really relied on Kobe all season,” Coach Wolff said. “Kobe isn't the biggest kid on the field, but he plays with a lot of heart. If he hits a crease, he's gone. Kobe has good vision and makes good cuts.”
Starting quarterback Matt Valanda also made his presence felt, muscling his way across the goal line from a yard out. This sneak gave Western Wayne back the lead with :23 left in the third quarter.
Chollette scored his third and final TD as the fourth quarter dawned, scampering in from 21 yards out.
Danny Boots then tallied what proved to be the game-winning score. The battle-tested senior back sliced into the endzone from three yards away with 3:29 left in regulation.
Sophomore kicker Jake Shepherd tacked on the PAT, bringing the final score to 27-19.
Defensively, Coach Wolff was particularly pleased with the play of Edward Sledzinski.
A junior who also plays tight end on offense, Sledzinski was a disruptive presence at defensive tackle throughout this ballgame.
“He's really come a long way,” Coach Wolff said. “Edward has a great motor and he makes plays from sideline to sideline. He's really stepped it up on defense the last few weeks.”
Players like Walck, Sauter, Valanda, Boots and Sledzinski will need to continue that upward arc if Western Wayne is to make its first District Two home game a success.
The Knights finished the season with six wins and wound up second in Division III of the Wyoming Valley Conference, trailing only Northwest Area (7-3) in the standings.
“The run kind of an unorthodox offense,” said Coach Wolff. “There's a lot of deception. They like to run a lot of jet sweeps and misdirection with their fullback.
“We're going to have our hands full, but with a good week of practice, we'll be ready for them.”
Score by Quarters...
WW (7-3) 6 0 14 7 - 27
WS (1-9) 6 0 7 6 - 19