ORCHARD PARK - After a one-year hiatus from Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Fredonia Hillbillies are back in the Section 6 Class C championship game Saturday when they take on Cleveland Hill at 1 p.m.
Even though the Hillbillies haven't been to "the Ralph" since 2010 when they defeated Southwestern, 12-10, they sure looked right at home Wednesday as part of Section 6 media day.
Christian Saden, Zach Buckley, Tory Grupa, Weston Ley and Nick Nocek took part in the media day and seemed like one of the more looser groups out of all the teams as they played catch and took turns attempting field goals.
OBSERVER?Photo by Craig Harvey
Members of Cleveland Hill and?Fredonia post for a photo during Wednesday’s Section 6 high school football media day at?Ralph Wilson Stadium.?Pictured from left are Cleveland Hill’s Jacob Radlich, Jonathan Thomas, Andre Kajewski, Ryan Mullin, Brandon Thomas, Fredonia’s Nick Nocek, Tory Grupa, Zach Buckley, Christian Saden and Weston?Ley.
Even coach Bob Ball took a turn at kicking a field goal. And while he split the uprights, we won't mention how most of the players fared on their field goal attempts.
"It's all about having fun during the week," Ball said. "As long as you prepare at practice and do your job there, we are here to have fun and win a football game."
And though there was no practice Tuesday because of school being closed and all the added obligations which go along with making the Sectional championships, Ball noted the team will still be prepared for Saturday.
"The preparation gets in," he said. "It is a lot of extra stuff. It does get crazy. It's something you want to be a part of though. We got the gameplan in Monday. We are in good shape right now."
In 2010 at the Section 6 Class C championship game, Shane Smith connected with Tyler Buckley on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds remaining to send the Hillbillies to a stunning, 12-10, victory over two-time defending state champion Southwestern.
It snapped the Trojans' Western New York record of 38 consecutive victories.
A member of that team was then sophomore Saden. Now a senior captain and three-year starter, Saden has fond memories of that game and hopes to have that same feeling of victory Saturday afternoon.
"It was 0-0 at halftime," Saden recalled. "We were focused. We just had to execute in the second half. We came out and did our job and got that score with 25 seconds left for the Sectional Championship. It was a great experience being there with all the guys and winning the first sectional title in 30-some years and go as far as we did. Last year was quite the let down after not being able to get back to the stadium. Now that we are here again, we know what we have to do and we have business to take care of."