Marcus Whitman upends Knights
for first Section V football crown

25-14 win propels Wildcats into state Class C tourney as Wickham, Cauwels,
and Cota star for Whitman; Justin Casper leads Knights with 99 yards rushing;
Shaun Swanson and Kevin Brady named outstanding linemen in contest

Game recap by James Johnson - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Sports

Rochester — Their heads and helmets held high, the Marcus Whitman Wildcats soaked up the proudest moment in the football team's history as they walked off the turf. The Wildcats shocked defending champion Le Roy, caused double takes around the state and claimed their first "block of wood" from Section V with a 25-14 victory in the Class C final on Sunday at Fauver Stadium.

Whitman's claim of its first Section V trophy broke a string of 11 years in which either Le Roy or Caledonia-Mumford won this classification's championship after the division was realigned in 1994. The Wildcats (9-1) advance to play Silver Creek (10-0) of Section VI in the state quarterfinals at noon Sunday at Fauver Stadium.

"We call it a block of wood," Marcus Whitman coach Brian Wickham said about the sectional trophy. "Le Roy has won 11 titles. We've got our first. Are we as good as Le Roy? No, but today we are.
"The kids deserve this. They've put in a lot of time. The community has supported us by putting up the lights at Whitman. They come out and put 1,000 people at our games at little Whitman."

About that many Whitman backers watched junior QB Chris Wickham throw two touchdown passes and accept the game's MVP award.
Wickham's 27-yard scoring throw to Adam Herod late in the second quarter put the second-seeded Wildcats ahead to stay, 18-14. The 6-foot, 170-pound quarterback and coach's son, added a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jason Cota in the third quarter after a memorable scramble.

"He's a great athlete," Le Roy coach Brian Moran said. "He's the kid who did a great job.

"They made plays when they needed it. They earned it."

Whitman senior Nate Cauwels ran for 114 yards on 22 carries, including a 4-yard touchdown run that opened the scoring. Ryan Stell inspired his Whitman teammates with an 84-yard kickoff return for a score in the second quarter.

"That was the turning play right there," Chris Wickham said. "The crowd went crazy. It just sprung us to a whole different level of football that we haven't played this year."

The Oatkan Knights (9-1) played on without their best two-way player, senior running back and linebacker Mike Farabella, who suffered a twisted knee during the semifinal round. Le Roy quarterback Mark Bennetti left the game with a separated shoulder early in the fourth quarter.

"It was one of those days," Moran said. "Sometimes that happens."

Whitman scored first going into the wind, late in the first quarter. The Wildcats converted three fourth downs during a 14-play, 83-yard drive, including Cauwels' touchdown run.

Le Roy took the lead twice in the second quarter after 3- and 4-yard
touchdown runs by Dan Horning and Justin Casper, respectively. The Wildcats snatched the lead back twice to go ahead by halftime on Stell's kickoff return and Herod's go-ahead catch.

"We finally got it," Cauwels said. "Now the next guys coming up have something to strive for."

Game recap by Brian Hillabush - Batavia Daily News Sports

ROCHESTER - Shocked and disappointed.

Those are the words that describe the feelings of the Le Roy football players and fans after the second ranked team in Class C in the state was upset in the finals of the Section 5 Class C tournament at Fauver Stadium Sunday.

The top-seeded Oatkan Knights were beaten by No. 2 Marcus-Whitman 25-14 and will not get a chance to get back to the state final four.

"We're disappointed, but we played real hard and gave it 110-percent," Le Roy quarterback Mark Bennetti said. "That's all we can ask for."

110-percent was not enough to beat a physical Wildcat team that was led by sophomore quarterback Chris Wickham and captured its first sectional title in school history.

"This feeling is amazing," said Wickham, who was named MVP of the game. "I have never felt like this in my life. All the hard work we've put in is paying off right now."

Wickham was brilliant in this one, throwing for 92 yards and two touchdowns on 7-of-9 passing.

His only mistake in the game came on the first possession when he was picked off by Craig Tiberio. But it didn't matter because the Le Roy offense could not get anything going early and went three-and-out. Nate Cauwels - who rushed for 118 yards on 22 carries - had runs of 20 and 38 yards on a 14-play, 88-yard drive.

Marcus-Whitman picked up first downs twice on fourth down on the drive and Cauwels capped it off with a 4-yard touchdown run.

"Today just wasn't our day," Le Roy coach Brian Moran said. "Marcus-Whitman played extremely well and made the plays when they needed to. They played well."

Le Roy got the ball back with a little over a minute and a half left in the first quarter and went three-and-out, getting no first downs in the opening stanza. The Oatkan Knights were without injured running back Mike Farabella.

"You never know (what would have happened if Farabella played)," Moran said. "You can't even really think about it. Obviously we missed him, but it happens."

After a poor punt from the Wildcats, Le Roy drove 60 yards on 13 plays and Dan Horning scored on a 2-yard plunge. Tim Andrews was stopped on a third-and-1 a few plays before the touchdown, but a facemask penalty kept the drive alive.

Just when it looked like momentum had shifted and Le Roy was about to start rolling, Ryan Stell killed that momentum with a 74-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

"That kickoff was all our fault; we blew that," Bennetti said. "That's just the way it goes."

Two 23-yard passes by Bennetti - one to Tiberio and another to Justin Casper - set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Casper that gave Le Roy a 14-12 lead with 1:24 left in the first half.

The Wildcats started at their own 43-yard line and Wickham threw passes of 13 and nine yards before throwing a 26-yard touchdown pass to Adam Herod in the closing seconds of the half, giving Marcus-Whitman an 18-14 lead.

The Oatkan Knights were driving to open the second half, but Bennetti was picked off by Wickham, who returned the ball 55 yards. A block in the back penalty pushed the ball back to the Le Roy 21-yard line.

"I was going to throw to the tight end and I saw Wickham go right behind him," Bennetti said. "I knew it was going to be a pick. That was my bad."

It took six plays before Wickham made a spectacular play for a touchdown. He avoided a pair of would-be tacklers and scrambled all over the place before throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jason Cota.

"I thought I was going to run it at first but I noticed nothing was there so I wheeled around and went back the other way," Wickham said. "I saw that there was nothing there and wheeled back the other way and found Jason Cota in the end zone."

Le Roy never got moving in the fourth quarter until it was too late.

Cauwels was the top offensive back and Thomas Ryan was the top defensive back for Marcus-Whitman (9-1), who plays Section 6 champion Silver Creek (10-0) next week.

Shaun Swanson was the top offensive lineman and Kevin Brady was the top defensive lineman for Le Roy (9-1).


1-LeRoy 7-0
LeRoy 39-0
8-Letchworth 3-4
Fri, Oct. 28th-TBD PM
LeRoy 17-14
W. Irondequoit
5-B. Kearney 4-3
Cal-Mum 44-18
4-Cal-Mum 5-2
2005 Section V Class C
Football Championship
M. WHITMAN 25-14
3-Avon 5-2
Avon 23-20
6-Alexander 4-3
Fri, Oct. 28th-TBD PM
Marcus Whitman 27-19
W. Irondequoit
7-Pembroke 4-3
Marcus Whitman 28-6
2-Marc. Whitman 6-1

Wildcats reach pinnacle: Marcus Whitman's gambles lead to win over LeRoy, first Section V crown

Finger Lakes Times

ROCHESTER — The Marcus Whitman football team was sailing into uncharted territory Sunday. While acknowledging that unique situation, Wildcats coach Brian Wickham poked some fun at himself as he reflected back on a first-quarter drive that established his club against perennial Class C power LeRoy.
Marcus Whitman’s decision to go for it on a pair of fourth downs in their own half of the field was made out of motivation and confidence. The end product of the Wildcats’ gamble was a 25-14 win over LeRoy and a Section V championship at Fauver Stadium.

The title was the first in the school’s history. It also marked the first time in 14 years that a team other then LeRoy or Caledonia-Mumford had claimed the Class C title. The Wildcats (9-1) return to play at the University of Rochester on Sunday and will take on Silver Creek of Section VI in the state tournament quarterfinals at noon.

“These kids have worked extremely hard and they deserve every accolade that they get,” Wickham said. “Even the practice players who don’t step on the field do a heck of a job and are very important in our program. And this is great for the community.”

Marcus Whitman converted three fourth downs — two at midfield — to score first and set an early tone. The Wildcats also scored late in the second to take an 18-14 halftime lead. Game MVP Chris Wickham then sparked a decisive third-quarter scoring drive that provided the final margin of victory that was a rematch of last year’s championship game, won by LeRoy, 17-6.

“We took the experience of playing here last year into this game,” said coach Wickham. “I think last year we were just satisfied to be here and we were a bit intimidated by LeRoy. This year, the kids stayed focused this week and we put together a pretty good game plan. But the biggest thing is, the kids made the plays. When you get into these games, it’s all about who makes plays.”

Nate Cauwels was named the game’s outstanding offensive back after rushing for 114 yards and a touchdown. Adam Herod and Jason Cota caught touchdown passes from Wickham, who was 7-of-9 through the air for 92 yards. Ryan Stell added a key 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first half. Thomas Ryan, who was named the game’s outstanding defensive back, led the Wildcats with six solo tackles and four assisted stops.

The Marcus Whitman defense contained a high-powered LeRoy offense, which was playing without leading rusher Mike Farabella. Regardless, the Wildcats’ defense was in control, especially in the second half, when they limited LeRoy to 96 total yards. LeRoy’s Justin Casper rushed for 99.

Both defenses forced three-and-outs to start the game. But Marcus Whitman established itself on its second possession. An 83-yard drive drained 7:47 off the clock. Playing into a strong wind, the Wildcats faced a fourth-and-two at their own 40. Cauwels ran off tackle for three yards to keep the drive alive.

“We have confidence in our defense, so we were going to go for it,” said Cauwels. “We were just out there trying to win.”

Three plays later Marcus Whitman was looking at a fourth-and-four at the 49. This time Wickham rolled right on a quarterback keep for four yards to the LeRoy 47. On the next play Cauwels broke a tackle and burst up the left side for 39 yards, down to the 8-yard line. One more fourth down came up at the 3. Cauwels turned the corner on the right side and stretched out to put the ball across the goal line, giving Marcus Whitman a 6-0 lead with 1:43 left in the first after a failed extra point.

The gambles on fourth down would reflect Marcus Whitman’s attitude through the rest of the game. It was unorthodox, but it paid huge dividends.

“The thing is, I’m not a very good coach,” quipped Wickham with a smile when asked about his decision to try to convert three fourth downs. He then changed the tone. “The bottom line is that we’ve never won a championship. So when you’re in those situations you put it in the hands of the playmakers and let them do their jobs. I’ve got a lot of confidence in these kids. They make plays.”

LeRoy (9-1) didn’t get its initial first down until the second quarter, but it sparked a 13-play, 60-yard drive over 6:24 that finished when Dan Horning bowled over from three yards out. The extra point gave LeRoy a 7-6 lead with 3:19 left in the second quarter.

Stell had a quick answer for Marcus Whitman. He took a bouncing kick at the 16, then sprinted through a gap and up the left sideline for an 84-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Wildcats’ had retaken the lead, 12-7.

The wild second quarter continued as LeRoy came back with a 69-yard drive that took only 1:43 off the clock. Casper’s four-yard run made it 14-12 after the extra point.

Marcus Whitman got the ball back at its 42 with 1:20 left. Catches of 13 and nine yards by Cota and a seven-yard run by Wickham put the ball at the 27 with 32 seconds left. Wickham then rolled to his left and lofted a pass to the end zone. Herod hauled it in at the goal line and the Wildcats took an 18-14 lead into intermission.

The key drive of the third quarter came on the opening possession. LeRoy faced a punting situation at its own 26. But up-man Chad Condidorio took the snap and ran to the 45. Three plays later Wickham stepped in front of a Mark Bennetti pass and ran the other way to the LeRoy 21.

Wickham struck again moments later on a third-and-goal at the 7. He scrambled right, spun away from two defenders, rolled back across the field and found Cota, who was coming back to the middle of the end zone. Herod’s extra point made it 25-14 with 4:57 left in the third.

“I was just looking for an open receiver,” said Chris Wickham. “At first I thought I was going to be able to run it, but there was nothing there. I wheeled around and went the other way, but there was still nothing there. Then I found Jason in the end zone.”

The Marcus Whitman defense took over from there. The next two LeRoy possessions netted only five yards and forced two punts. Travis Fenstermaker quarterbacked LeRoy’s last drive as he moved his team to the Marcus Whitman 26 with 2:21 left. But the next snap from a shotgun formation went over his head.
LeRoy recovered, but it eventually set up a fourth-and-19 at the 34. Jered Proctor and Ryan pressured Fenstermaker, who fumbled near midfield. Marcus Whitman recovered and took a knee to finish the game.


Official Section 5 Game Statistics - LeRoy vs. Marcus Whitman - 11-06-05

2005 Class C Section V Title Game MVPS:
31-Justin Casper (LR Sportsmanship)  84-Kevin Brady (Game Def. Line MVP)  75-Shaun Swanson (Game Off. Line MVP) 13-Chris Wickham (MW Sportsmanship & Game MVP)  21-Nate Cauwels (Game Off. Back MVP)  23- Tom Ryan (Game Def. Back MVP)


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The Knights' D steps up and stops power FB Josh Wells of Whitman

Colin Dailey (85) and Rob Morgan (57) provide great kick coverage for the Knights

Dan Horning (43) and others help stop Whitman star RB Nate Cauwels

The Cats' elusive Chris Wickham run for a 1st down and takes a shot from Craig Tiberio

Whitman gets on the board first with this stellar run by Nate Cauwels

Tim Andrews cuts back nicely against the grain for good yardage

LR QB Mark Bennetti opts to run around the right side for a good chunk of yards

Justin Casper finds a nice seam in the Whitman D up the middle

Horning's second effort at the goal line puts the Knights back in the game

Whitman's Ryan Stell takes the kickoff back 84 yards to ignite the Cats

Justin Casper rambles for ample yardage on this LeRoy draw play

LeRoy's Craig Tiberio doing what he does best - catching everything

Casper puts the Knights into the red zone with this superb screen pass catch and run

Shaun Swanson (75) and Rob Morgan (57) lead the way for a Casper 4-yard TD run

Jason Cota registers one of his 6 catches on the day with this grab of a Wickham bullet

Whitman QB Chris Wickham displays the footwork that helped him earn game MVP honors

The Knights' Tim Andrews lowers his head and bulls for some tough yards

Tom Smith (58) and Rob Morgan (57) help RB Mike Frew pick up good yardage on this draw

Nate Cauwels has nowhere to go as LR's Alex DiFrancisco slips in for the tackle

Greg Elmore (41) and Kevin Brady (84) sack MW QB Wickham before he can scramble

Elmore (41) never gives up his pursuit of Wickham and drops him from behind

Elmore, just a sophomore, meets and stops Whitman's rugged FB Josh Wells

Elmore registers yet another great effort, this time stopping Nate Cauwels

The Knights work out of a hole as freshman QB Travis Fenstermaker zips a pass to Colin Dailey

Fenstermaker calmly handles the high snap and throws a gem to Boo Hinett in MW territory

Fenstermaker throws the ball high and Craig Tiberio goes up and snags it

Fenstermaker connects on a beautiful "out" to the sticky-fingered Tiberio