On a beautiful and sunny Saturday morning the Canton Golden Bears Varsity Football team made it one step closer to their ultimate goal of the season….a Class A Championship, by defeating the Massena Red Raiders for the second time this season. The 40-22 win against the Raiders during week five gave the Bears an abundance of confidence as they entered the game on Saturday. Massena, however with the return of their impact player Zach Goolden and now healthy roster, also came in fired up with their sights set on another post season game. After methodically moving the ball on their first possession for nearly half the length of the field, the Bears were picked off by #28 from Massena. Massena then out together a powerful drive, easily chewing up dirt and grass, finally pounding the ball into the end zone with a 2 yard quarterback plunge by sophomore Dominic Montecelli. The ensuing point after touchdown was successfully and the Raiders found themselves ahead 7-0.
The teams then traded unsuccessful possessions which was highlighted by a game of who could be the most raucous team. Canton defensive players loudly called out their assignments which created confusion for the Massena center who could not hear the snap call by his quarterback. Following two false start penalties and with their backs against the end zone of the Bears, the Raiders were forced to punt. The Raiders then decided to provide their own bit of distraction for the Bears signal caller as each member of their team yelled loudly at the offensive line of the Bears forcing quarterback Adam Calton to take a timeout. Veteran official John Simons stepped in at that point, ending the nonsense and the game went back to playing football.
The next play with be forever engrained in the brains of those who witnessed it. On second and long, Monticelli dropped back and hurled a pass thirty yards downfield. The play hit his teammate in the hand, bounced off Canton player Bryce Lake’s hand then helmet, as Lake fell to the ground the ball then bounced off of Lake’s leg and popped up into the hands of an awaiting Zach VanBrocklin. It was the VanBrocklin show from there as he raced up the sideline of the Bears where he was eventually pushed out of bounds at his own 8 yard line. On the very next play VanBrocklin found his way into the end zone behind a great surge by his offensive line. The point after failed but the Bears were on the board but behind 7-6.
The ensuing onside kick-off by Tanner Cloce was perfectly executed and was covered up by VanBrocklin. As the Bears advanced into their side of the field they once again were able to steadily move the chains until a solid lead block by Hunter Blauvelt opened a lane for VanBrocklin and he raced 5 yards paydirt and their second score. The two point conversion pass from Calton to Lake failed but the Bears were starting to find their stride and were now on top 12-7.
The feeling of relief would be short-lived as Massena, seemingly attempting to run out the clock with a simple off-tackle play found their shifty fast back Christian McSurdy race through the Bears defensive for a 55 yard gain, falling just short of his own endzone. Four plays later, Zack Goolden again scored for the Raiders. The botched snap on the extra point found the Raiders scrambling as their holder Goolden hurled the ball over the Bears outstretched hands to tight end Mark Perry for the catch and successful two pint conversion. Raiders 15, Bears 12.
With under one minute on the clock and one timeout remaining the Bears Zach VanBrocklin took the kick-off from the Raiders 10 yard line and raced up the sideline for 65 yards putting the Bears within striking distance of the endzone. A completed pass from Calton to Ashton Cloce followed by a 6 yard draw play to Hunter Blauvelt and the Bears found themselves 27 yards from the endzone with one final play and 2 seconds left in the half. Calton, behind the protection of his offensive line, hurled the ball for the far right corner of the end zone when the Bears Connor House had a few inches of separation from the four Raider defenders which were chasing him down. As the ball fell into his fingertips, the Bears found themselves back on top 18-15. The Zack VanBrocklin two point conversion run notched the score at the half 20-15.
The third quarter would find a recharged Massena team methodically move the ball and score on a 12 yard run by Nathan Eastwood. The two point conversion pass was caught just outside the endzone by Mark Perry but the toughness of Ashton Cloce and Zach VanBrocklin would not allow him entry as they stuck their shoulder pads into the burly tight end, thereby preventing him from falling across the line. The Raiders were again on top 21-20.
After back to back fumbles by the teams the Bears found themselves moving in the right direction again. The final score of the game would come on a 7 yard scamper, again by VanBrocklin as he bounced to the outside and headed towards the flagpole corner of the endzone on John Oliver Field. The scoreless fourth quarter was marked by some outstanding defensive play. Conner House, Reiss “Maui” Ryan, Cohl “Macker” McIntosh, Justin Perry and Colby Young anchored a tough-nosed defensive front. The secondary for the Bears playing without Trey Bessette were able to limit the Massena quarterback to only a few yards passing and the downhill play by Josh Guzman and Tanner Cloce kept the final score at 26-21.
Zach VanBrocklin had an outstanding day with 23 carries for 140 rushing, 3 touchdowns and a 2 point conversion. He also had an interception, a fumble recovery and another 92 yards with kick-off returns. Connor Ramsay netted 42 yards on 10 carries and Adam Calton threw for 41 yards on 2 for 6 passing attempts and one touchdown to Connor House.
Not only do the Bears have the opportunity to repeat as Section X Class A Champions this coming Friday night in Watertown but they also have a chance to avenge an early season loss to the Cyclones. In their first outing the Bears rushed for 338 yards and scored 28 points but the exploits of the Watertown quarterback were too much to handle as his squad was able to hang 40 points on the board. The 28-26 lead which the Bears enjoyed with under 5:00 minutes remaining saw their hopes crash as the Watertown QB scored two touchdowns on only three plays to seal their victory.
Kick-off is slated for Friday, November 1st at 7:00 pm at the Watertown High School Turf Field