ILION, N.Y. — The communities brought together by the Mohawk/Ilion school merger could hardly have asked for better way to end Central Valley Academy’s first week of school and activities.
Playing before a large Friday night crowd at Diss Memorial Field, the Thunder dominated Mexico’s Tigers from March shooting victim John Seymour’s emotional singing of the National Anthem to the players’ ringing of the school bell, winning 30-9 in a Class B East contest.
“There were a lot of pregame jitters,” coach Jon Cole said. “There was a lot of build up for the first game for CVA and it was good to get a win.
“This is a great step forward for the merged district, for the kids. This gets us going forward together.”
Mitchell Werenczak scored the first two Central Valley Academy touchdowns and the Thunder built a 28-point lead on its home field in the second half.
“Mitch set the fire,” Cole said of the senior who later blocked a punt and recovered the ball in Mexico’s end zone. “He ignited us and we went from there.”
Donning powder blue uniforms with their lightning bolt logoed helmets — a look not unlike the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League — the Central Valley Academy defense kept Mexico out of the end zone until the game’s closing moments.
Werenczak ran four yards for a touchdown on his only carry of the first half. The touchdown capped a 63-yard drive in the first quarter.
Mexico answered the Thunder’s first score by driving from its own 40 to the Central Valley Academy 20 as the first quarter ended. On the second play of the second quarter, Thunder defender Ryan Sponburgh made a leaping interception of a Dante Turo pass intended for Austin Lasinski. Sponburgh fell back into Lasinski and was tackled at the 1-yard line.
The Tigers earned their first points of the night when Derick Gracey chased quarterback Matt Klosner on a roll to the right and tackled him in the corner of the end zone for a safety.
The Thunder gave the crowd a thrill as the clock expired at the end of the first half. Mykel Farley took the ball from Tyler Brown on a reverse and ran 57 yards along the left sideline before he was brought down from behind at the Mexico 10 with no time left on the clock.
A 30-yard touchdown run by Brown was called back on the second play of the second half; an illegal motion penalty was one of 23 penalties called during the game. The Thunder was unable to score on the drive but pinned the Tigers deep in their end of the field and forced a punt shortly thereafter. Werenczak, lined up wide of the line on the left, blitzed through unblocked and blocked Turo’s punt. Werenczak followed the ball to the right side of the end zone where he covered it for his second touchdown of the night.
Page 2 of 2 - A short touchdown run by Brown in the third quarter and 10-yarder by Farley in the fourth put the Thunder up 30-2. Another penalty cost Treqwanel Hartwell a 63-yard touchdown run.
Farley’s 124 yards on 12 carries led a ground attack that saw him combine with Brown and fullback for 256 total yards.
Central Valley Academy plays on the road in Week 2 against Cazenovia.
CENTRAL VALLEY ACADEMY 30, MEXICO 9
Mexico 0 2 0 7 — 9
Central Valley Academy 8 0 16 6 — 30
CVA — Mitchell Werenczak 4 run (Mykel Farley run), 2:21.
MEX — Safety, Derick Gracey tacked Matt Klosner in end zone, 9:26.
CVA — Werenczak recovered blocked punt in end zone (Tyler Brown run), 8:00.
CVA — Brown 1 run (Ryan Sponburgh pass from Klosner), 1:28.
CVA — Farley 10 run (run failed), 8:51.
MEX — Collin Haynes 6 run (Kendall Ridgeway kick), 2:57.
Records — Mexico 0-1, 0-1 B East; Central Valley Academy 1-0, 1-0 B East.