Hillbillies took care of business Friday

OBSERVER File Photo Fredonia/Brocton’s Joell Colon (23) rushes for a gain against Newfane during the season opener in Brocton in Week 1.

BROCTON — Trailing by seven points with four seconds left in the first half, Fredonia/Brocton quarterback Trey Swartz took the snap and heaved it into the endzone.

“I just had a gut feeling that somebody was going to come down with it,” said Swartz. “I just threw it in the endzone and let somebody go get it.”

That somebody was running back Joelle Colon, who motioned out of the backfield and ran a wheel route and leaped over a defender to haul in the last second touchdown to tie the game 7-7 heading into halftime. That catch gave Fredonia/Brocton its first points, and from there they scored 13 more unanswered points to beat the Newfane Panthers in Class B3 action by a score of 20-7 on Friday night in Brocton.

“Joelle is very athletic,” said Fredonia/Brocton head coach Greg Sherlock. “We were hoping if he was even with him, he’d go by him. He didn’t get by him by much, but I thought Trey threw it exactly where he needed to for Joelle to make a play.”

It didn’t start as quickly as it finished for the Hillbillies, as they took the opening kickoff and sustained an 8:16 drive only to have penalties stall them out. When the ‘Billies went to punt, a high snap didn’t allow them to make the punt, and Newfane took over at the Fredonia/Brocton 31 yardline.

“I said earlier this week that we were even teams,” said Sherlock. “We didn’t know a whole lot about each other — the film we had just didn’t show the size this team really had.”

Five plays later, Newfane’s running back Jaden Heers scampered in from 14 yards out to give the Panthers the early 7-0 lead.

Fredonia/Brocton got the ball back and just struggled to move the ball early on.

“As you saw early No. 24 [Jordan Sherman] was giving us fits up front,” said Sherlock. “The team that was going to win was the team that was going to make adjustments.”

The Hillbillies got the ball back with 1:17 left before halftime, and after a Colon run and a pass interference penalty, Swartz hit Ka’Rim Levens for a 26 yard gain who got down with four seconds left and got the timeout called.

“Ka’Rim caught that pass right before half and got down right away and we got the timeout,” said Swartz. “That set up the touchdown pass to Joelle.”

The catch sparked controversy on the Newfane sideline, as head coach Chuck Nagel sprinted to midfield to meet the officials and argue that Colon pushed off to make the catch. Nonetheless, the catch stood and the Hillbillies rode the momentum into the second half.

After the Hillbillies got a quick stop on a defense, a poor punt set the offense up at the Newfane 37 yard line. After a 16 yard completion from Swartz to Jake Skinner, Colon dashed in from 10 yards out, pushing the lead to 14-7 midway through the third quarter. One thing that was constant the whole game was Colon, who really shined throughout the contest.

“We always say every year ‘it’s a new era,'” said Colon after the game. “Last year doesn’t matter, you know this is our year. But the team played well tonight and the line played well tonight, I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Colon finished the night with 26 carries for 131 yard and two touchdowns, and also added the 29 yard touchdown catch to end the first half.

“I think [Joelle] had pretty decent vision tonight,” said Sherlock. “There were times I’d hoped he’d be closer to his back — but he made a lot of yards improvising. Sometimes as a coach you don’t draw it up that way, but Joelle is just a kid that sees things.”

“Joelle is a huge part of our team,” said Swartz. “He’s a good receiver, he can catch out of the backfield, run between the tackles and whenever you need him, he’s there for you.”

While Colon sustained success on the offensive side of the ball, the Hillbillie defense shutdown the Panther offense in the second half. The defense got key interceptions from both Lucas Green and Dalton Gardner to help stop the Newfane offense. Overall, the defense collected three turnovers in the second half alone, and stopped the Panther’s option attack.

“We weren’t tackling well to start the game — we weren’t getting to the ball,” said Sherlock. “I thought the adjustments we made at halftime made a difference — the kids listened — and they did their jobs, that’s the biggest part.”

After Gardner’s interception with 10 minutes left in the contest, Colon found the endzone again, giving the ‘Billies a 20-7 lead after the missed extra point.

Despite Newfane’s Heers breaking a couple of runs throughout the game, the Fredonia/Brocton defense stood out, and helped them grab the win.

“Our defense was huge,” said Sherlock. “Everybody has a job to do — you saw in the first half if everybody doesn’t do their job it’s not pretty. We were able to make adjustments.”

“We’ve watched a lot of film all week,” said Colon. “We worked towards this team, one team at a time — you don’t look forward to another team. That’s the mentality we have this year.”

Fredonia/Brocton (1-0) will look to ride this win in to Friday, when they travel to face Alden (0-1) who dropped their opening contest to Hamburg, 48-14.

NOTES: Swartz finished the game 4-12 for 91 yards and a touchdown through the air… Tight end Jake Skinner hauled in two receptions for 36 yards and had one carry for five yards. … Levens had one reception for 26 yards and one carry for 9 yards. … Newfane’s Heers had 15 carries for 110 yards and one touchdown. … Fredonia/Brocton dominated the time of possession in the first half, having the ball for 17:09 and then finished the game with 24:55 of possession.