Niagara Gazette

Sports

October 4, 2013

FOOTBALL FRIDAY: GI hosts Sweet Home to highlight HS action

Niagara Gazette — What might be the biggest high school football game in Western New York this weekend takes place at 2 p.m. Saturday at Masters Field when the Grand Island Vikings host the Sweet Home Panthers in a battle of unbeatens atop Section VI Class A North.

The Vikings (4-0, 3-0) have beaten Hamburg, North Tonawanda, Niagara-Wheatfield and Kenmore East despite dealing with injuries all season. The Panthers (4-0, 3-0) beat Iroquois, N-W, Starpoint and NT and own a 64-game winning streak against Sect. VI opponents, including six straight Class A titles.

GI last beat the Panthers in the 2005 Class A Championship at Ralph Wilson Stadium despite earning a reputation for playing them tough.

Viking head coach Dean Santorio said his players have been looking forward to the matchup.

“We consider every game a big game and you try to keep your players focused and keep their heads on straight, but sometimes you wonder where they’re at,” he said. “They know it’s a big game, and obviously they want to win it.”

The game represents a contrast of styles, as well. The Panthers are known for their speed and athleticism, while the Vikings excel at controlling the clock and moving the chains.

“We’re hoping to use our toughness to our advantage,” Santorio said. “Their speed is going to hurt you every year, and you can’t simulate that in practice.”

The Vikings are still without seniors Dominic Petrilli and Ben Goc, both lost for the year with injuries.

Niagara Falls at McKinley,7 p.m. tonight

The Wolverines (1-3, 1-3 AA) look to stay in the win column in this non-league game, which takes place at Riverside High School in Buffalo.

After scoring an upset over Lockport in last week’s home opener, NF will take on the high-flying Macks (4-0 A Central), who’ve scored an average of 29 points per game early this year.

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