Dan-Way-Co Football: A Homecoming shutout and a 28-0 win over Pal-Mac
DWC football earns a big shutout win over Pal-Mac on Homecoming
DANSVILLE — The Dansville-Wayland-Cohocton combined football team put together another defensive masterclass and picked up a 28-0 win over Palmyra-Macedon on Friday evening in Dansville.
The combined football team earned their second shutout of the season by keeping a very tough Pal-Mac offense completely off the scoreboard for four quarters. Once again, the DWC defense used a strong front unit to get into the backfield and stop plays before they even started. The DWC team also forced two turnovers that went a long way in not only preserving the shutout, but also setting the offense up with a short field to go get a touchdown of their own.
“I’ve coached several defenses in my tenure at Wayland and now down here, and this defense is definitely in the upper echelon of the groups I’ve been fortunate enough to coach. I always tell those guys that whenever they pitch a shutout, I don’t have much to say to you,” said DWC Co-Head Coach Darren Knapp. “We can tweak stuff, but when they are flowing with each other they all do a very good job. They practice well and they listen, and I’ve got great coaches helping me out. It’s definitely a collective job around here, and it’s always fun to pitch a shutout.”
After the defense forced a Pal-Mac drive to stall, Dan-Way-Co took their first possession of the game and marched right down the field on the back of Evan Pruonto. Pruonto got the DWC offense into the redzone with a huge run down the left sideline. He then punched in a 15-yard touchdown a few plays later in order to get Dansville-Wayland-Cohocton out to the 6-0 lead with just over six minutes left in the first quarter.
It looked as though the Red Raiders were going to respond on their very next drive, but the DWC stood tall on the goal line, forcing a long third-and-goal attempt where Chris Giovine picked off a pass on the goal line and returned it into Pal-Mac territory.
The teams traded a few possessions back-and-forth after that until DWC took possession of the ball late in the first half. The combined football team quickly moved into Pal-Mac’s side of the field, and then Evan Pruonto broke off another big run down the left sideline for a 37 yard touchdown that gave DWC the 12-0 lead at the halftime break.
“That was a huge score. And I told the guys when we went into halftime that we had only had four possessions, and the two possessions where we got stopped we had gotten a first down before a three-and-out. You never want those, but you are not going to go a game without a three-and-out,” said DWC Co-Head Coach Rich Welch. “It was nice to give the offense a little bit of confidence going into halftime. And with Darren and the defense doing such a good job, it was nice to feel balanced.”
After the intermission, the defenses once again traded stops. As the minutes ticked off the clock, Pal-Mac’s offense progressively became more aggressive in an attempt to break through on the scoreboard. As a result, they started to go for it on nearly every fourth down opportunity.
But the DWC defense was simply too good as it picked up several fourth down stops throughout the entire contest, including one late in the third quarter that set the offense up with an extremely short field.
“That’s the kind of defense that they are, they might have bent a little bit, but they never broke. And those crucial fourth-down stops — I mean that’s a pretty good defense when you can do that consistently,” said Knapp.
After the stop, Evan Pruonto came through with yet another huge run down the left sideline, this time for a 41-yard touchdown that pushed the DWC lead out to 20-0 going into the fourth quarter. By the end of the contest, Pruonto had rushed the ball eight times for 207 yards, good for an incredible 25.8 yards per carry. He also finished with three touchdowns and made five tackles on the defensive side of the ball as well.
“It’s definitely clicking for him. He’s a senior and he is just doing everything right it seems like. We have such a variety in the backfield that we don’t need to go to him that much, it’s just the fact that he works so hard. It’s great to see,” said Welch. “But above all that, he is an absolutely great kid. He’s a role model, a great teammate and a great student. He’s the type of kid that you want to be around. That’s even better than any of the stuff that happens on the football field.”
The DWC defense continued to get big stops in the fourth quarter, preserving the shutout performance, and the offense tacked on one final scoring drive halfway through the fourth quarter in order to preserve the win. This time, instead of a run from Pruonto, quarterback Nick Belanger faked the run and lofted a pass to the back shoulder of Drew Morrow right on the goal line. Morrow won the battle for the ball and fell into the endzone in order to cement the 28-0 win.
With the win, DWC has all but wrapped up a home playoff game in the Class B playoffs. The combined team will make one final road trip on Thursday evening when it travels to Midlakes at 7 p.m.
“This was definitely one of those games where we knew this team was not to be taken lightly. They are tough, as we just saw. To get that win, which was a pretty good win, that does release the pressure a little bit,” said Knapp. “I don’t know much about Midlakes yet, but we aren’t going to take them lightly either. And then hopefully we will be back here for a home playoff game in a couple of weeks.”
“In Class B, when you are traveling, you are really traveling. So traveling five or ten minutes to a field is a lot better than driving to Pal-Mac for a playoff game. So we’ve got to take care of business,” said Welch. “And it would be great for the two towns, because the fans have been such great supporters of everything. It’s been fun to see.”