Niagara Gazette — When the Grand Island Vikings face Williamsville North today in the Section VI Class A football semifinals, they will officially be the home team. However, the downright damp and muddy conditions at Gene Masters Field prompted officials to reschedule the game, moving it from Saturday afternoon up to today at 5 p.m. and relocating the home field to Tonawanda’s Clinton H. Small Stadium.
It’s not the unfamiliar territory that concerns the Vikings. It’s their more familiar opponent, a Spartans team they played just two weeks ago. Although the Vikings prevailed, 30-15, they’re entering today with an appreciation that come playoff time, it’s a clean slate.
“I think you’re always worried that you’re playing a team a second time during the season now,” said Grand Island head coach Dean Santorio. “We have a lot of respect for them. We knew that going into our last game against them (Oct. 19) that we won. We won the game, 30-15, but the game was close throughout. They actually had a lead in the second quarter.”
Among the Spartans that Santorio singled out to praise was quarterback Ryan Majewski, a senior and three-year starter at Williamsville North. Poor weather conditions in their regular season matchup kept both teams relying more on a ground game. Majewski showed some of his passing skill in the first half of that game, finding Dean Thompson on a 52-yard touchdown play.
“They have one of the better receivers in the area, Kolbe Hughes, who’s a good athlete,” added Santorio. “They have a lot of complimenting athletes.”
Grand Island, meanwhile, has a more rested and healthy squad. That’s most welcomed by a Vikings team that spent considerable portions of the season banged up but still succeeding without some of its key players.
“Probably right now — other than Ben Goc and Dominic Petrilli who we lost for the season, which were big injuries for us and affected our team quite a bit — we’re probably as healthy as we’ve been, going into this game, with other guys that were out of the secondary and banged up,” said Santorio “We fell pretty good in that respect.”