Newport – Welcome to Class D football.
West Canada Valley opened the 2016 season against perennial Class C power Herkimer. Coach Todd Hobin’s team hosted the Magicians in a Class D league showdown Saturday afternoon as the visitors dropped down a class this fall. WCV was up to the challenge and posted a 33-7 victory.
“Other than the penalties, I was pleased,” WCV coach Todd Hobin said after his defending Class D runner-ups pulled away with 19 unanswered points in the second half. “Our defense is strong.”
And so was the WCV offense, especially at the start of both halves. Sophomore Brandon Barnes scored on a 48-yard run on the hosts’ second play from scrimmage to get the scoring started then directed a drive at the start of the third quarter that consumed almost seven minutes and ended with Shawn Pierson scoring on a 1-yard run.
“We played them tough early,” Herkimer’s first-year head coach Ron Gatto, Jr. said. “But they’re tough, big and physical.”
The Magicians weren’t quite as big as their hosts, but they battled back from the early deficit to seize a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter. Collin Treen scored on a 2-yard run and Marshall Borek kicked the extra point for the score that was set up by Antonio Aceto’s long punt return.
The teams followed with one failed drive apiece before WCV regained the lead with a 76-yard scoring drive in the final four minutes of the opening half. Sophomore quarterback Matt Tobin and Pierson did the bulk of the running and a facemask penalty on Herkimer also proved key. Pierson ended the drive with a 3-yard TD run and Tobin passed to Brandon Barnes for the conversion points and a 14-7 lead that helped up to halftime.
The hosts stretched the lead with a great drive to start the third quarter. Kristopher Crossett started things with a long kickoff return and caught a slant pass from Tobin for an 18-yard gain during the drive. Pierson broke some tackles on a key third down moments later to set up a fourth-and-inches run that Tobin converted to keep things going. Six plays later, Pierson ran the ball in from a yard away for a 20-7 edge.
Neither team could do much for the next few minutes then WCV’s defense pressured Herkimer into a fourth-and-long gamble near midfield. Crossett sacked John Chimento on the play and two plays later Tobin scored on a 28-yard run to make it 26-7.
Cade Smith capped the scoring for the hosts by running 19 yards with a fumble recovery. Pierson kicked the extra point to make it 33-7 with 6:26 to play.
“We didn’t put our heads down,” Gatto said in retrospect. “I’m proud of my kids.”
The youthful Herkimer coach should be as most expected WCV to be a slight favorite and the visitors had a chance well into the second half. But WCV was not to be denied in the September 3 showdown and Hobin was happy afterward.
“Our defense…everybody played pretty well,” Hobin said. “(And) as the season goes on, we’ll iron things out (on offense).”
Hobin had plenty to be happy with on offense as well as Tobin ran 101 yards on 19 carries, Pierson had 74 on 23 carries and Barnes had 75 on five. Tobin was also 7-for-8 passing for 62 yards.
Aceto ran 15 times for 103 yards to lead Herkimer on offense.
Herkimer 0 7 0 0 – 7
WCV 6 8 6 13 – 33
WCV: Brandon Barnes 48 run (kick failed)
H: Collin Treen 2 run (Marshall Borek kick)
WCV: Shawn Pierson 3 run (Matt Tobin pass to Barnes)
WCV: Pierson 1 run (kick failed)
WCV: Tobin 28 run (pass failed)
WCV: Cade Smith 19 fumble return (Pierson kick)
Records: Herkimer 0-1, 0-1; WCV 1-0, 1-0.