DWC Football: Honeoye Falls-Lima ends Dan-Way-Co inaugural season
No. 4 Dan-Way-Co falls to No. 1 HFL in the Section V, Class B playoffs evening in Honeoye
HONEOYE – The top seeded Honeoye Falls-Lima football team scored three times in the fourth quarter in order to end the Dansville-Wayland-Cohocton upset bid by a 41-18 final on Friday evening in Honoeye in the semifinals of the Section V Class B Tournament.
With the loss, Dansville-Wayland-Cohocton ends their inaugural season as a combined program with a 7-3 overall record. And while the season was clearly a successful first run on the field, it was an even more successful process off of the field as the two communities came together seamlessly all season to support these student athletes.
And the student athletes responded in a big way developing friendships that last a lifetime while earning some big wins on the gridiron.
“I hope that other sports and people in general can see that the kids just want to play. They just want to be with each other and go out onto the field and leave it all out there. I hope that other people can take away from our experience that the color of your jersey doesn’t matter. They just want to be with each other and go win some games,” said DWC Co-Head Coach Darren Knapp.
“It takes a high character to do something like this. And this isn’t something that developed, it’s something that happened immediately with the kids. At both meetings, the kids said that they just wanted to play and they just wanted to be successful. It does take a special group to hop on something like that this quickly. I’m happy that this was the group we did it with, and I think that it was the right group to do it,” said DWC Co-Head Coach Rich Welch.
One of the biggest reasons that this season was able to work the way it did is because of the large group of seniors that were willing to take the leap.
“This was a great senior group. I’ve been lucky enough to coach some great groups throughout the years. This group was probably the biggest, but it is also probably the one that has the most amount of leadership. That was critical to any of the success that we had in bringing this together. If they didn’t get along and they weren’t leading them, it would not have worked as well as it did. And they need to be credited for that,” said Knapp. “They never threw in the towel, and they immediately believed in the other kids that they might not have known very well. They will always be a special group to us because they were the first in this program.”
“I think the seniors did a great job and they were great leaders. Honestly, they are going to be really difficult to replace. I was just telling the seniors that they laid down the groundwork and then this entire group laid down the groundwork. Any success that we have in the future, it comes back to them. They were all willing to take the risk and it took a lot of faith. It really shows what type of character that they have, and the seniors were the ones that led all of this,” said Welch.
The Cougars jumped out to the early 14-0 lead after the first quarter and looked poised to cruise to the win at home, but the DWC combined team quickly regrouped and used a huge stop on the defensive side of the ball in order to set up an easy scoring chance.
After HFL got into the endzone twice in the first quarter, the Dan-Way-Co defense made a huge stop on third down in order to force their first punt of the game halfway through the second quarter. On the punt, the snap was high, and it flew over the punter’s head and deep into HFL territory, where DWC was able to take over possession. The combined football team put together a short scoring drive before Evan Pruonto took a pitch to the left and cut the lead down to 14-6 with a two-yard touchdown run with just four minutes left in the first half.
HFL responded quickly with their own drive down the field, adding another touchdown to the scoreboard with just 18 seconds left in the first quarter in order to take the commanding 21-6 lead into the halftime break.
After the intermission, the Dan-Way-Co took the opening kickoff and marched down the field in a methodical fashion. DWC used a strong combination of all of their weapons in order to move down the field into the redzone. After working their way down to the goal line, Ben Teed capped the drive with a dive up the middle for a two-yard touchdown that trimmed the lead to 21-12.
On the next HFL drive, the Cougars started to move the ball down the field, but it was brought to an abrupt end by the DWC defense. HFL went for a quick hitter with a receiver screen, but DWC’s Colin Mehlenbacher read the play perfectly, jumped the route and picked off the pass right around the 30-yard line. With nobody in front of him, Mehlenbacher raced down the field into the endzone for the pick-six that officially put DWC within striking distance at 21-18 with just 4:33 left in the third quarter.
But once again, HFL responded with a slow drive that lasted all the way into the fourth quarter. The Cougars moved down the field and then finally found the endzone just 30 seconds into the fourth quarter in order to push the lead out to 28-18 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
The DWC football team did everything they could to climb back into the game, but HFL put two more scores on the board in the final quarter in order to cement the win and earn their spot in the Class B Championship game with the 41-18 win.
The DWC combined team now looks forward to a full offseason in which they will have the opportunity to continue to work and grow together. Of course, the biggest bonus will be the chance to continue having the great relationships that have been built throughout the course of season number one.
“I can’t wait because we can really get into the nuts and bolts of things. I think everyone has melded together so well and the coaches will continue working hard. It’s going to be great to strip everything down and analyze it,” said Welch. “I was telling the kids that even the coaches were new to each other, but it was great to build these relationships. The relationships that we’ve built have been absolutely amazing, and all of this has been really good.”
“As a staff, we just do our best week by week to coach them up and see what happens. But from here on out, we told the young kids that this is just the beginning. When you get a few wins like we did this season, it breeds success. Hopefully we can bring in a few more kids from both schools and bring football back to the forefront of the community,” said Knapp. “We will take a little break, but we will get them back going next year and hopefully we will keep rolling.”