You might think that a high school football team would be quite satisfied after clinching their division and guaranteeing themselves home field for the first two games of the Section VI playoffs.
Not head coach Greg Bronson's Lockport Lions, who are looking forward to Saturday's non-league contest against visiting St. Joe's with as much enthusiasm and a wish to prove themselves as in every other game this year.
It's a matter of pride to the Lions, after all — no pun intended — a team that wants to be considered one of the top varsity football teams in the area by beating the best.
Despite four straight, impressive, wins over Starpoint, Hutch Tech, Niagara Falls and Kenmore West, and the way they did it by dominating every phase of the game, their opening day, non-league loss to defending state-champion and 2012 VI favorite Orchard Park remains fresh on their minds.
“They know Orchard Park is one of the elite teams in Section VI and St. Joe's is one of the elite teams in Western New York,” Bronson said.
“Our guys still aren't happy that they lost that first game to OP. They know we didn't play well enough to win, but we stayed close with them a good portion of the ball game. We're excited to play another high-quality program because that's what they want to be known as and this is another opportunity to earn that reputation. That's their motivation.”
In addition to that, Bronson points out the local connection Lockport has with the Mauraders, who feature juniors Nigiel Davis (Lockport) and Tyler Hill (Newfane) whom most of the players are very familiar with in a variety of local youth sports programs, including baseball, basketball and football.
“Our guys know them and have played sports with and against them. They're excited to play a meaningful game against guys who are their buddies from the community,” Bronson said.
Last Saturday's showdown at Crosby Field against the Blue Devils in some ways mirrored their season to date with a slow start then slowly starting to gel by halftime, then an all out assault down the stretch.
Lions junior Dan Bronson has already had his share of “breakout performances” at quarterback, but his steady, accurate arm and knowledge of the game and Lockport's spread offense were major contributing factors to the team' success against a perrenial AA North power in Ken West.
Dan went 8-for-14 passing with 255 yards and three touchdowns. The threat of senior James Chambers running the ball and Bronson's ability to get the ball into the hands of not only different players, but the open player, have made the Lions' O one of the most feared in the section.
“(Dan) knew what he had to do. At times he would call plays himself and suggest plays,” coach Bronson said. “He knows what he's seeing and he's familar enough with the offense and confident enough in his ability and in the guys around him, and he knows the guys up front will protect him. If they send too many people, he knows who will be unblocked and has been able to escape pressure.”
Lockport's 36-21 win at Ken West gives them 178 points to date (35.6 points per game) versus 86 against (17.1 ppg). Lockport's season high of 49 came against Niagara Falls (Sept. 22), while their season low of 24 came against Orchard Park on opening day (Sept. 1).
Dan Bronson has had a plethora of good receivers to throw to, beginning with senior wideouts RD Hillman and Tevye Maslowski. Hillman caught four passes last week for 149 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown), while Maslowski added a TD reception. Both have demonstrated good hands and a willingness to move towards the ball in heavy traffic, rather than wait for the pass to come to them. Chambers and senior running back Mitchell Evans have also caught the ball coming out of the backfield.
“Part of the reason for James' success is you can't focus on just him running. The ball will go to who's open and that makes it more difficult when have to defend 53 yards wide. It makes it tough,” coach Bronson said.
Meanwhile the LHS defense is allowing 17.1 points per game with a season high of 42 allowed against OP and a season low of six allowed at Starpoint (Sept. 8). Since the OP game, the Lions defense has allowed just 11 ppg.
Defensively last week, the Lions were led again by junior middle linebacker Moziah Townsend's 11 tackles and an interception. Steady senior cornerback Will Diebel added nine-and-a-half stops and junior defensive back Josiah Chandler also had a pick for the Lions.
Coach Bronson said the Mauraders come into town Saturday with a strong team.
“We've seen them play twice. They handled Bennett and they handled Aquinas on Friday night. They are quite impressive, disciplined, physical, athletic and whatever compliment you want to pay them, it fits,” coach Bronson said.
“The only thing that might be an issue is they don't have a large number of kids on the team and a lot of their players play both ways (offense and defense). But that hasn't seemed to slow them down yet.”
LHS FOOTBALL TO DATE
9/1 Orchard Park 42, LHS 24
9/8 LHS 31, Starpoint 6
9/15 LHS 38, Hutch Tech 8
9/22 LHS 49, Niagara Falls 9
9/29 LHS 36, Ken West 21
Sat. ST. JOE’S 2 p.m.
Oct. 12 @ Riverside 7 p.m.
Lockport 36, Ken West 21
LHS 0 15 7 14 — 36
KW 8 7 0 6 — 21
KW — Trent White 41-yard pass from Adam Fron. Deion VanVolkenburg conversion pass from Alex Price. 2:40.
KW — Price 1-yard run. Imran Ahmadi kick. 8:17.
LHS — James Chambers 3-yard run. Kyle Few kick. 3:51.
LHS — RD Hillman 65-yard pass from Dan Bronson. Chambers conversion run. 1:15.
LHS — Chambers 67-yard pass from Bronson. Few kick. 4:18.
KW — Price 1-yard run. Kick failed. 11:54.
LHS — Tevye Maslowski 20-yard pass from Bronson. Few kick.
LHS — Chambers 11-yard run. Few kick. 2:08.
TEAM STATS LHS KW
Rushing yards 156 163
Passing 8-14-255 13-27-153
TDs/INTs 3-0 1-2
Total Offense 411 316
LOCKPORT INDIVIDUAL STATS — Rushing: Chambers 17-83, Bronson 7-20, Evans 3-53; Passing: Bronson 8-14-255; Receiving: Chambers 2-81, Hillman 4-149, Mitchell Evans 1-5, Maslowski 1-20; Tackles: Townsend 11, Diebel 9.5, Chambers 5.5, Seth Anderson 5.5, Marshall Taylor 5.
Non-league game: St. Joe's (2-0 MMA, 5-0 overall) @ Lockport (3-0 AA North, 4-1 overall), 2 p.m. Saturday, Max D. Lederer Field, Lockport.