Walton’s young squad rode an 18-point second quarter to an 18-16 victory over visiting Whitney Point on Saturday in a Section Four Football Conference non-division victory that marked the opener for both teams.
Christian Rutherford, Austin Kilmer and Tanner Goodrich scored in the second quarter for the Warriors, who stopped a Golden Eagles drive inside Walton’s 10-yard line in the closing minutes.
“It was a hard-hitting game,” said Walton coach Jim Hoover, who earned his 294th victory. “We had a quarter-and-a-half where we played very good football and it was enough to score 18 points. Whitney Point played really tough.”
Whitney Point opened the scoring on a 31-yard touchdown run by Donovan Sturdevant in the first quarter. Jake Lynch’s conversion run made it 8-0.
Rutherford narrowed Walton’s deficit to 8-6 with a 10-yard touchdown run. The Warriors then forced a punt and took over the Golden Eagles’ 9-yard line after a poor snap on the punt attempt. Austin Kilmer capped the ensuing drive with a 3-yard run as Walton took a 12-8 lead.
Walton, coming off a 4-5 season, scored its final touchdown on a 31-yard pass from Trevor Zandt to Tanner Goodrich.
“It was a play-pass and Goodrich got behind the defense,” Hoover said. “It was a nice throw. He caught it in stride.”
WP made it a two-point game in the third quarter when Mitch Edson hit Andrew Gardner on a 40-yard scoring reception and then connected with Gabe Shrauger on the two-point pass.
Hoover said his squad suffered several injuries Saturday, including numerous muscle cramps and a couple of turned ankles.
“We were really banged up,” the veteran coach said. “For a couple of plays, we had our quarterback Zandt playing on the defensive line. We were on the sidelines trying to figure out who we could put in there. We had three fullbacks go down. We had Kilmer, one of four halfbacks, at fullback. Considering everything that happened, it was a good win.”
Walton, which has five seniors on its roster, will host Oxford on Saturday.
CF 54, Unatego 13
Bruising running back Isaiah Zimmer rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries as host Chenango Forks earned its second straight season-opening victory over Unatego in a Section Four Football Conference non-division game.
The Blue Devils led, 20-0, after one quarter and by a 34-7 count at halftime.
“They’re well coached and they’re a veteran team,” Unatego coach Frank Microni said of a Forks squad that advanced to the Class C state semifinals last season. “We have to improve, work harder and get better.”
Zimmer opened the scoring on a 44-yard run. L.J. Watson’s 33-yard scoring run made it 14-0 and CJ Sweeney hit Elliott Butler on a 44-yard scoring pass in the first quarter.
Unatego, which graduated a host of seniors — including Daily Star Player of the Year Tyler Butler — off a squad that went 6-3 last season, answered in the second quarter on a 65-yard pass play. Sophomore Josh Feyerabend, who replaced Butler at quarterback, hit Jared Jones on the scoring play. Feyerabend’s extra point made it 20-7.
“I thought we threw the ball well,” said Microni, who watched as Feyerabend completed 9 of 23 passes for 174 yards. “But we can throw it better. I thought we had certain guys who played real hard and they’ll be rewarded. They’ll play more.”
Forks scored the next four touchdowns, including 11- and 2-yard scoring runs by Zimmer before Feyerabend hit Kellen Komenda on a 44-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.
“We need to get a little more aggressive, we need to block better and we need to tackle better,” Microni said.
Next for Unatego is a non-division game at home Friday against rival Sidney.
“I was impressied with their offensive and defensive lines,” said Microni, who scouted Sidney’s 42-40 victory over Chenango Valley on Friday night. “Of course, Billy (Kozak) played great. I’ve watched him for a long time. It always seems there’s a Kozak coming through at Sidney.”
Microni also said his squad will need to throw it effectively Friday against a Sidney defense that surrendered 302 passing yards against CV.
“We’re going to need to throw the ball successfully and there are also some other things to improve on in our run game as well,” Microni said.
Elmira 58, Oneonta 7
John Mushtare received no favors from the schedule-makers in his first game as Oneonta High’s coach.
The visiting Yellowjackets trailed, 40-0, at halftime en route to a non-division loss at Elmira.
“They were big and strong across the front, and when their backs in the open, they were gone,” Mushtare said of the Express.
Still, Mushtare said he saw some positives Saturday.
“In terms of our team, I really like the progress we’ve made in three weeks,” said Mushtare, who replaced Adam Hoover — now assisting his father, Jim, at Walton — as the Yellowjackets coach. “They’re learning a completely new offensive and defensive system. I’m pleased with the progress so far, but clearly, we have things to work on.”
Elmira’s 24-point first quarter included an interception in the end zone by Josh Townsend, a 64-yard scoring run by Eli Thomas and scoring runs of 28 and 4 yards by Jerry McPeak.
Thomas also scored on a 47-yard punt return and Thomas had a 93-yard kickoff return.
Oneonta’s score came in the fourth quarter, when sophomore quarterback Jake Crotser hit Mat Robinson on a 10-yard pass.
“Robinson ran a deeper route and (Noah) Sheehan was coming underneath,” Mushtare said of the play. “Jake made a nice read.”
Oneonta finished with minus-5 yards rushing and Crotser completed 3 of 9 passes for 51 yards, the longest going to Skylar Thompson for 37 yards.
Mushtare singled out the play of linebackers James Longo, Sheehan and Dalton Ormsby, as well defensive linemen Christian Chopra and Kirkland Dolan.
The Yellowjackets, who went 2-7 last season, will travel to play rival Norwich on Friday.
“They’re in the same boat we are,” Mushtare of the Purple Tornado, who lost, 46-9, to Vestal in Week 1. “They have a new coach, and a new offensive and defensive scheme. I’m sure they’ll will get better. We’re looking forward to a good game Friday.”
Harpursville 18, Delhi 0
Brian Ingram had a game-high 64 rushing yards on 15 carries, but Delhi opened its Section Four Football Conference schedule with a home loss.
Steven Lee returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown to give Harpursville the lead.
“He found a seam,” Delhi coach Dave Kelly said. “We did a couple things we weren’t supposed to do. We kicked it to the wrong guy, then we had some of our people on coverage go around the ball instead of to the ball.”
The Bulldogs then lost possession on the ensuing kickoff with a fumble that marked their first of four turnovers.
“That does make you wonder what kind of day it’s going to be,” Kelly said.
John Andrews scored on a 35-yard pass from Devon Dean in the second quarter as the Hornets took a 12-0 lead into halftime. Dean hooked up six more times with Andrews, who finished with 116 receiving yards.
“We did a great job on the run,” Kelly said. “We only allowed 45 rushing yards, but then we had to go man-to-man in the secondary. Andrews is a 6-foot-3 wide receiver, so he’s tough to cover.”
Delhi sophomore quarterback Conner Gioffe completed three passes for 58 yards but was intercepted twice.
“They only outgained us by seven yards overall (181-174),” Kelly said. “Conner did a great job maintaining his composure.”
The Bulldogs visit Greene on Friday.
Waterville 40, Cooperstown 20
Lucas Lyons rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, but host Cooperstown dropped its season opener in the Section Three Football Conference.
Lyons scored on a 26-yard run in the second quarter, helping to pull Cooperstown to 14-8 at halftime.
In the fourth quarter, Cooperstown’s Cullen Rathbone scored on a 3-yard run and Carmen Booan hit Michael Perrino for a 3-yard TD pass.
Perrino finished with five catches for 81 yards. Booan went 7-for-12 for 140 passing yards and was intercepted once.
Moravia 33, UV 6
Alex Avolio rushed for a team-high 83 yards and returned a fumble 18 yards for a touchdown during Unadilla Valley’s non-division loss at home to open the season Friday.
Jared Lyon rushed for 157 yards and three touchdowns to lead Moravia.
“Offensively, I’m very proud of the kids,” said first-year coach Mark Segina, who coached Cooperstown’s varsity football team last season. “This is a new system and we are still working out the kinks. Our offensive line did an outstanding job for the most part as Moravia was sending six and seven in blitzing us and (our line was) able to adjust and pick it up.”
UV sophomore quarterback Lance Gage completed 9 of 15 passes for 78 yards.
“As Lance becomes more comfortable with his reads, audibles and in trusting his O-line, he will only continue to improve,” Segina said.
UV, which went 4-5 in 2012, will travel to Whitney Point in Week 2.