The Red Raiders were counting on their superiority in two categories to help upend the Eagles from Wayland-Cohocton in the opening round of the Section V, Class C postseason tournament.


By the end of the evening it was clear, Wayland-Cohocton couldn’t handle Hornell’s fast and physical brand of football. And it was even tougher for the Eagles to handle Zack Bacon and Luke Morgan.

The Red Raiders were counting on their superiority in two categories to help upend the Eagles from Wayland-Cohocton in the opening round of the Section V, Class C postseason tournament.

By the end of the evening it was clear, Wayland-Cohocton couldn’t handle Hornell’s fast and physical brand of football. And it was even tougher for the Eagles to handle Zack Bacon and Luke Morgan.

The running back tandem amassed 221 yards by halftime and top-seeded Hornell rolled to a 41-13 victory over the No. 8 Eagles on the Red?Raider fiendly turf at Maple City Park. It marked the 15th straight playoff-opening victory for HHS following a 1996 Round 1 loss to Midlakes on the road at Honeoye Falls-Lima.

“Win by one and move on,” HHS first-year head coach Erik Werner said. “We won by more than one and we’ll take it, but all we want to do is be one point better so we get to play another week.”

Also intact, “The Streak” — 47 straight victory celebrations to be exact.

“We’re just going to work on one, and that’s the next one. Next week we want to win one,” Werner said. “We won one this week and we get to play again next week. The kids realize that and I can see and hear it in the locker room. They understand what this is all about. Sure, it’s a tremendous streak, and everyone that has had a part of it can feel proud that we’re continuing it. But if it ends this season, I won’t be concerned with it. I’ll be more upset about the fact that we are no longer playing football.”

Unfortunately, for the Eagles and their faithful band of fans, that’s the case for Wayland-Cohocton. The Eagles close up shop with a record of 3-5.

“You never enjoy losing football games,” Sabo said after the game. “We’ve never had much success against Hornell. We knew we’d have to be almost perfect to even have a chance. That said, we’re happy about where we were. We started the season 0-3 and we still made the sectional playoffs. I was telling the kids that it says a lot about this team. We won the three of the last four and legitimately we we could have had a couple more along the way. We could have been 5-2 this year, but we were 3-4 and we got the 8 seed — and the 8 seed is the 8 seed. But we’ll still take that over the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th seed. We’re here and I’m proud of the kids for this.”

The Eagles have plenty to build on. C.J. Ellis, who finished the game 4-for-15 for 98 yards and touchdown, returns for his senior campaign. In addition, super sophomore Devon Harris — the younger brother of FaceBook sensation D.J. Harris — had an immediate impact upon his arrival at the varsity level and will look to turn even more heads as a junior. The running back/receiver ended up with nearly 50 yards of rushing on 10 carries, a 66-yard touchdown on a short shovel pass and nearly 200 all-purpose yards.

“This year, these last four games. Different from this year, we’ll have a few kids back next season. We lose 10 seniors, but three of them were first-year kids who had never played before. But those guys contributed for the most part. We’ll lose a few linemen and that will hurt, but the quarterback is back, we’ve git some running backs back, a couple of receivers back, three linemen back — we didn’t have hardly any of that to start the year. We’ve got some things to build upon. But we’ve also got a lot of work ahead of us.”

Morgan, meanwhile, had himself one heck of a night. The 5-8, 160-pound tailback racked up 162 yards and three touchdowns on four carries, averaging slightly over 40 yards per carry — again, all in one half of work. He scored on runs of 75, 45 and 43 yards.

“I planned to give Bacon (four carries, 59 yards, one rushing TD?— all in the first half)?more touches in the first half. But with Luke Morgan averaging over 40 yards a carry it was kind of impossible — he just ran so well tonight,”?Werner said. “He used his blocks well, he used angles, he used his speed. We knew he was fast, and he’s a tough runner. Given the score, we couldn’t leave our kids in and risk any injuries. I know some of them were a little disappointed that they didn’t get to play more, but in the bigger picture we need to avoid injury and get healthy where we can, while also getting ready to play again next week.

“The line blocked well and Zack, in front of him, did a tremendous job on the iso’s. But Luke made a lot of good moves on his own,” Werner went on. “He’s starting to read his blocks better, while also setting people up off them. Then, he uses his speed. Last week, when he got outside against Bath an outran them for a big touchdown in the second half, I think something clicked. It was like, ‘Hey, I?can use my speed; I’ve got to pound it in between the tackles, but when I bounce and find some open space, I?can take advantage of my speed.’ It was a tremendous, tremendous effort by him tonight. Before the game he was sick and I?didn’t know. I think some nerves might have gotten to him, but again, it was a tremendous night for him.”

On the defensive end, HHS held Way-Co to 254 yards of offense (126 rushing, 128 passing). Nearly 150 of that final total came in the first half. Matt Mauro paved the way with 11 tackles, seven of which were solo.

“Matt played a terrific game. He really stepped up defensively,” Werner said. “They have some really good ball-players. Obviously, we saw Devon Harris and how explosive he can be, especially on the shovel pass. But the defense, as a whole, really played great. We were spot-on. We knew Wayland could move the ball, but the pass coverage was excellent and the run defense really contained what they were trying to do. We had two interceptions, one for a touchdown, and anytime the defense can score points it’s certainly a bonus. The only thing we didn’t do was give them much of a rest because we scored so quickly on offense.”

Five turnovers also played a part in the Eagles’ demise. Three were by way of fumbles lost, while two came on Ellis interceptions. Both picks proved to be costly as they directly affected the numbers which seemed to be lighting up the scoreboard at a frantic pace.

“The left side of our defense was horrendous tonight, and that’s where they ran. The couple turnovers (were a difference as well),”?Sabo said. “The score may not show it, but we actually played substantially better than we did in the third week of the season. We had some yardage, a handful of first downs and we returned the ball pretty well on kick-offs and punts. We did some things well, but we were still playing the three-time state champions.”

Sabo’s second assessment of the Raiders hasn’t changed much from his first. The veteran assistant and first-year coach who saw his Eagles — now 0-15 all-time against the Red?Raiders — suffer losses of 49-8, 41-8 and 42-12 over the past three seasons to what would eventually become the Class B?state champions believes the Raiders are ready to make another state bid.

“I believe they should be in the states. I haven’t been there myself, but obviously the best of the best is there,” Sab said. “Could they win it? I think so. I don’t know. They’re definitely an awfully good football team, there’s no two ways about it.

“They haven’t missed much of a beat with a new head coach and all of the stuff that comes with that. Erik’s done a nice job. They’ll make a good showing no matter how far they get.”

The only remaining question left for Sabo — would he be returning for a second venture as head coach of the Eagles?

“As I?stand here today I am (coming back), but who knows,”?Sabo said. “I’m becoming an old man here and I’ve done this a long time. I would say that I’d probably be back. I’ve got a lot of irons in the first right now, I?do a lot of different things — teach school, farm, coach some football. With all that stuff going right now I’m really tired. I really am tired. But I suspect I’ll be back. You never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”

HHS, now 8-0 this season, will meet up with the Attica Blue Devils (6-2) in Round 2. The semifinal matchup, pitting No. 1 against No. 4, is slated for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Sahlen’s Stadium in downtown Rochester.

“I’ve seen them live and we have some more tape to go over,” Werner said when asked about Attica which posted a 61-8 victory over the fifth-seeded Mynderse Blue Devils Friday. “It’s a big, physical football team that likes to pound the football. They use a lot of double tight end formations. They’ve got some size at running back and at a couple of the linemen positions. They also have a good linebacker defensively. They’ll show multiple fronts on D from what I can see. We haven’t really studied them too much, but they’ll present some problems. We’ll meet Sunday as a staff and develop a gameplan to hopefully move on another week and get a shot at the championship. This is another one that you’ve got to win in order to play for the trophy and the kids realize that this is the biggest game of their lives.”