WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WROC) — The East/World of Inquiry football team has been known for two things all season. An explosive, high-powered offense and a dynamic, ball-hawking defense.
Both were on display Friday night in the Far West Regionals as they dismantled Clarence 42-7 to advance to the state final four for the first time since 1996.
The Eagles recorded seven takeaways on defense, with two of them returned for touchdowns.
East/WOIS led 14-7 at the half. They scored the game’s first touchdown, with Zymier Jackson connecting with Kelvin Shepard on third and 17 for a 35-yard touchdown.
The second East/WOIS touchdown was set up by an Anthony Hampton interception. An errant whistle ruled the would-be pick-six down at the two-yard line, but Ervin Wiggins scored on a short rushing touchdown on the next play.
While the Eagles were still up by seven at the half, they turned the ball over twice to keep Clarence in the game. The Eagles really found their groove in the second half.
“We just told them to calm down and play ball,” said East/WOIS co-head coach Steve Flagler. “That wasn’t us in the first half. They responded.”
Leonard intercepted the first play of the third quarter, which led to a Jackson touchdown pass to Junayde Dunn-Richardson to make it 21-7.
East/WOIS got the ball back yet again thanks to an interception by Mazie Riley. The Eagles went to their bag of tricks in the red zone for their touchdown as DeMari Green took a halfback pitch, stopped, turned back, and lobbed up a pass to Jackson who juked his way into the end zone to make it 28-7.
The Eagles’ final two touchdowns came on defense as Leonard returned an interception and Perrion Williams took back a fumble for touchdowns. Prior to Leonard’s pick-six, Hampton recorded another interception but the Eagles fumbled twice on the return, which was eventually recovered by Clarence.
Tyrone Fisher also recorded an interception in the first half to round out the dominant defensive performance.
Primetime 585 interviews East/WOIS after their win
“They knew they had to stop the run,” said co-head coach James Vann of his defense’s effort. “Stop the run, be tough up front, keep fighting. And if they all did their jobs, then we were going to be fine. And that’s what I saw, they executed what we were supposed to.”
Jackson finished the night completing 12 of 21 attempts for 215 yards, two passing touchdowns, and a receiving touchdown.
While the Eagles were dominant, they still feel like they haven’t reached their potential.
“We weren’t good on offense tonight. It was ugly, but we got the job done,” said Flager. “We still haven’t played four full quarters yet. The sky is the limit. It’s just can we stay mentally locked in.”
East/WOIS will take on Whitesboro from Section III on Friday, November 24th at 6:00 p.m. at Cicero-North Syracuse High School. Whitesboro, from the Syracuse area, defeated Vestal (IV) 34-7 in their regional matchup.
In the latest NYSSWA Class A rankings, East/WOIS was ranked 5th and Whitesboro was ranked 6th.