Alex Brasky | @BataviasBestHS
Sunday, September 16, 2018 | BataviasBest.org
It was a hot one at Holley High School yesterday afternoon, and I’m not talking about the weather.
Holley and Marcus Whitman squared off on Saturday in both programs’ first-ever game of Eight-Man Football and the scoreboard was on fire from the opening kickoff to the closing bell. The Hawks won the game 58-52 behind a huge first half performance from RB Jake Affronti.
Affronti carried the ball 20 times for 262 rushing yards and 4 rushing touchdowns, but was injured on the first offensive series of the second half and had to leave the game. Moving forward, Holley head coach Wil Prince says it’s vital that they get and keep their starting RB healthy.
“Jake is a huge part of our offense,” said Prince following yesterday’s game. “Moving forward he has got to be on the field for us. When he left the game our offense slowed down a little bit. He’s a big key to our success.”
Prince also gave glowing praise to his offensive line, who he said was one of the main reasons their offense was so productive vs the Marcus Whitman defense.
Aside from the electrifying offense on display on Saturday, the story of the game was the vicious heat which caused several players from both sides to leave the game, sometimes on more than one occasion. At one point the heat index on the field reached 89 degrees.
“The heat was absolutely horrendous today,” said Prince about the difficult conditions. “I can’t give the guys enough credit to be able to compete in (those conditions). Kids were throwing up on the field and coming back (plays later) telling me they were ready to go back. I can’t give them enough credit.”
In addition to a big day from Affronti, the Holley offense also received solid performances from several other players.
Hawks’ QB Cody Tanis carried the ball just 4 times, but went for 98 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs, while FB Dalton Moyer added 52 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown on just 3 carries. Moyer added 8 tackles, 3 for a loss, and a sack on defense.
The defensive highlight of the game for Holley was a pure hustle play from DB Jamel Hildreth, who chased down a Marcus Whitman ball carrier on a 60-yard run and caught him, and stripped him just before he reached the end zone. The fumble went through the end zone and out of bounds which turned over possession to the Hawks.
“It was a huge play at a critical point in the game,” said Prince about the effort from his defensive back. Hildreth finished with 7 tackles and also added a 70-yard kick return for a touchdown.
LB Zach VanAmeron and DL Matt Hahn led the defense with 9 tackles, DL Triston McFadden finished with 7 tackles, and SS Tony Farruggia recorded 4 tackles and an interception.
“I just can’t say enough about the effort today,” Prince added to wrap-up his comments. “Some of our teams (in the past) would have folded when faced with the situation that we were in today. Getting down a score or two, our kids competed, came back, and never gave up.”
With the win Holley joins fellow local Eight-Man squad Oakfield/Elba at 1-0 to begin the year. Section V’s Eight-Man Football league consists of just four teams, and with both locals at 1-0, could we have an all-local Eight-Man Football Championship Game this year?
Probably too early to tell, but boy that would be a lot of fun.
One big takeaway I have from my first time experiencing Eight-Man Football – there might be TOO much open space. Both teams were on pace to reach 80 points after the first half which is an offensive overload. I’m not sure what the solution is, but perhaps narrowing the field of play wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Next up for the Hawks will be a matchup with CG Finney (0-1) in Week 2. Holley will be looking to improve to 2-0 for the first time in recent memory. Safe to say the move to Eight-Man Football was the right decision for this program.