NORTH TONAWANDA — It didn’t take too long for the Falcons to get on the board in 2019.
Matt Lysiak’s 75-yard opening kickoff return touchdown was the driving force behind Niagara Wheatfield’s 26-6 win over North Tonawanda on Thursday night in NT.
Lysiak did just about everything for NW. He also scored a receiving touchdown, provided several big plays in the passing game, added to the team’s 180-yard rushing total and had the game-sealing interception on the Lumberjacks’ final drive.
For a kid playing in his first organized football game ever, Lysiak added to his exploits on the baseball diamond with his work on the gridiron on opening night.
“Well you know I came out there (and) I know I have speed,” Lysiak said. “And you know, I’ve just got to try and use it. Try to get by them and make plays. Fly around the field, fly to the ball. (It’s) see ball, get ball.”
NT was able to respond after Lysiak’s kick return TD, with freshman Nash Rieselman connecting with senior Camerin Holmes.
Holmes was one of the Jacks’ bright spots on offense, totaling four catches for 90 yards and a score in the first half alone. NT’s Aiden Ferry also had a solid showing, closing out the first half with an interception.
The Falcons were able to take advantage of some sloppy play from there though, holding NT to 150 total yards of offense for the game.
NW quarterback Chris Gordon did not have a gaudy night numbers-wise, but he managed the offense well and had touchdown tosses to Lysiak and Andy Klebaur.
Along with Lysiak, Joey Kiszka Jr. was able to pace the Falcons offense with his 133 rushing yards and a fourth-down TD run that set the score at 26-6.
Coach Russ Nixon was impressed by how his first-year star played in Lysiak, but he also lauded Kiszka and Gordon for their performances as well.
He knows his squad will have to clean up its own mistakes and penalties, but he hopes the team can use the effort as a springboard to how it will play against Williamsville North next weekend.
“It’s been two years since we’ve seen them, but it’s been two years since they’ve seen us too,” Nixon said.
“Obviously, myself included, (we’ll) enjoy tonight a little bit. But tomorrow we’ll be at it and we’ll start to put some stuff together, what we can. We’ll use this extra day or two that we have now, since we were the first game, to kind of prepare ourselves.”
As content as Nixon was about the win, he does not want his kids to get too complacent with winning one game.
“But again it’s a new season, and I told these guys everything we do, we have to earn and we have to prove this year," he said. "We can’t be happy that last year we had a successful team and a successful program. We’ve got to make sure that we’re moving forward.”
For more from sports reporter Khari Demos, follow him on Twitter @riri_demos.