ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Bennett football team repeated as Section VI Class AA champions with a 36-10 victory against Lancaster on a rainy Friday night at Highmark Stadium, continuing to move past a controversial forfeiture of regular season victories on the hunt for a state title.
Sectional championships also were won by Iroquois in Class B on Friday, as well as Jamestown in Class A, Lackawanna in Class C, and Randolph in Class D on Thursday.
Bennett (4-6) is ranked No. 20 in the state and moves on to the Class AA Far West Regional playoff game next Saturday night at University of Rochester.
“We expected to be here,” Bennett coach Steve McDuffie said in a team huddle on the Bills logo at midfield that included players, coaches, parents, administrators and Tonja Williams, superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools. “Our journey is not finished.”
On its way to the state championship game last season, Bennett ended Lancaster’s five-year reign in Class AA. The Tigers were the top-ranked team in Western New York after a 20-7 win at Lancaster this season before Section VI ruled that Bennett used an ineligible player for the first six games, requiring the team to forfeit its four division wins, in accordance with NYSPHSAA rules.
“It feels good to be at the top of the mountain right now, but I’m already thinking about next week,” McDuffie said. “I hope we made the city proud. I hope we made Bennett High School proud. And I hope everybody sees that we are really trying to build something special here.”
Bennett quarterback Antonio Davis III threw four touchdown passes, three to University at Buffalo recruit Jayden Lewis, and another to junior receiver Ja’Meer Thomas, who also had a touchdown run. Darell Hamilton plunged in a TD to finish a 10-play drive after Lancaster’s Micah Harry returned opening kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown.
“We wanted to do this again and move on to the next level,” Davis said. “Through all the adversity and things of that nature.”
Jamestown 34, Williamsville North 0
Carsen Bane ran for 162 yards and a touchdown Thursday night, while the Red Raiders defense shut out an opponent for the third time this season, and second consecutive sectional championship game.
Four-year starting quarterback Trey Drake, a North Dakota State recruit, threw a pair of touchdown passes to Darius Freeney in his final game playing in Western New York. Sean O’Brien and Radon Wright also had rushing touchdowns.
Jamestown (9-2), ranked No. 6 in the state, brings an eight-game win streak into the Class A regional at 5 p.m. Saturday at University of Rochester.
Iroquois 18, Pioneer 7
Trevor Barry rushed for 272 yards and three touchdowns, tying the WNY record with 42 rushing touchdowns in a single season, as the Chiefs (11-0) won the school’s second sectional title, and first since 2004.
Barry, a junior has 2,179 yards rushing this season, and 43 total touchdowns, four away from the WNY record set by Jamestown’s Aaron Leeper in 2000.
Allowing just 113 yards and a touchdown against Pioneer, the Iroquois defense has given up 8.4 points per game during its undefeated season. Ranked No. 2 in the state, the Chiefs advance to the Class B regional at 7 p.m. Friday at SUNY Brockport.
Lackawanna 22, Fredonia 20
Antwan Threets had 188 yards rushing with a 75-yard scoring run, Billy Gechel threw touchdown passes to Ashlin Alexander-Hall and Shyheim Smalls, and Smalls made a late interception to secure the Steelers’ first sectional title since 2008
Lackawanna (11-0), which has won 10 sectional championships dating back to the 1960s with recent Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame inductee Gordy Bukaty, is ranked fourth in the state and will play in the Class C regional at noon Saturday in Batavia.
Fredonia quarterback Ethan Fry, the leading passer in WNY, threw touchdowns to Jameson Quinn and Brandon Wronski, and ran for another score to finish the season with 35 total TDs. The Hillbillies (9-2) were ranked seventh in the state, the highest of any sectional runner-up.
Randolph 30, Franklinville/Ellicottville 14
Xander Hind rushed for 211 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Cardinals (10-0) to a repeat sectional championship for the third time in history.
The No. 4-ranked team in the state, Randolph also repeated in in 1992-93 and 2012-13, and the Cardinals have claimed nine Class D titles over the past two decades.
Hind enters the regional playoff game at 4 p.m. Saturday in Batavia with 2,058 yards rushing this season, second to Barry on the WNY leaderboard, and 25 touchdowns.
Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.