WILSON — The road to New Era Field and the 2019 Section VI Class C football championship game goes through Wilson — and Brayden Dunlap is driving the bus.
Dunlap rumbled for three first-quarter rushing touchdowns Friday night, sparking the Wilson Lakemen to a convincing 37-21 victory over Allegany-Limestone in a quarterfinal contest at Walter J. Hutchison Field.
Lakemen senior Drew Westmorland and sophomore Mason Branca added touchdowns in the victory and senior Thomas Baia added four extra points and a 37-yard field goal to round out the scoring for head coach Bill Atlas’ team, which remains unbeaten this season at 8-0 overall heading to next week’s semifinal contest against Portville (26-7 winners over Akron on Friday night).
“We really held the line of scrimmage. My offensive line was making holes all over the place and pushed them downfield all game long,” Atlas said.
“Dunlap, he’s out of sight — one of the best running backs I’ve ever had here. We’ve only had a couple of guys here rush for 1,000 yards and he’s really close. I hope he gets it.”
Fresh off a thrilling OT victory last week over rival Newfane, the Lakemen came out swinging, as Dunlap (142 yards, 22 carries, 3 TDs) ran it in on TD runs of 24, 18 and 23 yards in the game’s first 9 1/2 minutes, giving the hosts a 21-0 lead with still two minutes left on the clock in he first quarter.
Brayden, what did you have for breakfast?”
“I had eggs toast and pancakes. My dad hooked me up this morning,” a beaming Dunlap said after the game. “Our offensive line came out strong. It was just a great team win. I’m just so happy right now.”
Lakemen senior quarterback Bobby Atlas (10 of 15 passing, 219 yards, 2 TDs) did the rest, tossing long touchdown passes of 52 yards to Branca and 79 more to Westmorland. His key to victory was maintaining an up-tempo offensively.
“Earlier in the season we had gotten off to a slower start in the first half, so that was a point of emphasis tonight — get the tempo up and get our plays down.”
Both Atlases said they benefit from their off field relationship as father-son (incidentally, the Allegany-Limestone starting senior quarterback, Tom Callen, is the son of the coach by the same name).
“I think it helps. He’s been around the game since he was born,” coach Atlas said of his son. “We watch games a lot and we talk about concepts and reads. We talk a lot of football.”
Added Bobby, “We do enjoy a close relationship, but it’s really just a close relationship with the whole team. It really helps having my dad as the coach, but it’s a team game and it’s a family thing.”
Westmorland and Branca added interceptions, Ben Mahar had a fumble recovery for Wilson and Anthony Dispenza added a sack.
Follow veteran Lockport sports reporter and editor John D’Onofrio on Twitter at @JohnD’Onofrio7.