SECTION IV FOOTBALL: TIOGA 'SHARP' IN 55-8 ROUT OF WALTON (24 PHOTOS)
(2023-09-30)By TIM BIRNEYValley Sports Report
WALTON — Tioga coach Nick Aiello was looking for a sharper performance from his team with the postseason fast approaching; and boy, did he get it.
The Tigers raced out to a 41-0 halftime lead on their way to a 55-8 win over Walton here Saturday afternoon in Section IV, Division V football action.
“We put in a lot of work this week,” said Aiello. “We talked to the guys about starting to sharpen up here in the midseason.
“After last week, we thought we had quite a bit to work on,” noted Aiello. “I think that’s what showed up today, guys wanting to get on the field and play a little bit better than they did last week, and play sharp — and that’s what they did.”
In the midst of a win streak that has reach 32 games with Saturday’s win, Aiello isn’t concerned about his team losing focus.
“This is a good group,” he said. “Their mentality has carried over from last year, it’s ‘one week at a time, and go 1-0 every week.’
“They are really good competitors,” noted Aiello. “And, not just in football, they’re athletes. When you tell them they have stuff to work, they believe you and they work hard at it.
“Our approach is to try and get better at every little thing, and the kids are responding to it,” added Aiello.
Last year, Walton opened the game at Tioga with a 17-play scoring drive that consumed 8 1/2 minutes off the game clock. Aiello said it was a topic of discussion during the week of practice.
“That (drive) was the film session Thursday before practice,” said Aiello. “We went over that entire drive — every single play.
“We told them this is what they did you last year on the opening drive, so we have to get off the bus and play well, or they’re going to do it again,” noted Aiello. “I think that really set the tone for Thursday’s practice … I thought it carried over to (Friday’s) practice, and it definitely carried over to today.”
On Saturday, Walton had just 1 yard of offense on its first 17 plays — spanning five possessions, with no first downs, and two turnovers.
The first half was all Tigers as they pounded out 287 yards in total offense, while holding the Warriors to just 21.
After forcing Walton into a three-and-out, Tioga took an early lead on a 14-yard run by senior Ousmane Duncanson, who missed the previous two games with an injury. Senior Gavin Fisher’s PAT kick made it 7-0 with 7:34 remaining in the first half.
The drive also included a 17-yard run by senior Drew Macumber, and a 27-yard scamper by senior QB Caden Bellis.
After a QB sack by Levi Bellis left Walton facing third-and-18 at its own 13, senior Gianni Silvestri picked off a pass from Caleb Moren, who was hit by Levi Bellis and Karson Sindoni as he released the pass.
Two plays after the interception, Macumber broke loose on a 28-yard TD run to make it 14-0 with 5:37 remaining in the first half.
After another Walton three-and-out, Tioga took over at the Warrior 35. After a 27-yard pass from Caden Bellis to Sindoni moved the ball to the Walton 7, Macumber scored again on a 7-yard run to make it 21-0 with 2:48 left in the first quarter.
Following another Walton three-and-out, Tioga took possession at its 43 with 4 seconds remaining in the opening stanza.
After a 14-yard run by Silvestri, Caden Bellis connected with senior Evan Sickler on a 43-yard TD pass down the home sidelines to make it 28-0 with 11:51 remaining in the half.
Another Walton three-and-out set Tioga up at its own 42, and six plays later the Tigers were in the end zone again.
The key play was a 35-yard pass from Caden Bellis to senior Valentino Rossi, who made a diving grab at the Walton 7. Two plays later, Duncanson bulled in from 4 yards out to make it 34-0 with 6:57 remaining in the first half. Fisher’s fifth PAT kick made it 35-0.
Two plays after the ensuing kickoff, Walton fumbled and Tioga senior Austin Babcock pounced on the loose ball at the Warrior 33.
On Tioga’s first play, Rossi swept around left end and raced 33 yards for a TD to give the Tigers a 41-0 lead with 5:57 remaining in the half.
On its ensuing possession, Walton picked up its initial first down of the game. After another first down, the Warriors fumbled at the Tioga 46.
After an 11-yard run by junior Jonah Lamb, Tioga took a knee to end the half.
In the second half, Lamb scored on a 19-yard TD run to make it 48-0.
After a Walton score, sophomore Logan Bellis scored on a 34-yard TD run to make it 55-8.
Tioga finished the game with 385 yards in total offense, including 282 on the ground, while Walton had 129 total yards.
Lamb led Tioga with 76 yards and one TD on four carries, while Macumber had 58 yards and two TDs on five carries, Logan Bellis added 39 yards and one TD on two carries, and Duncanson chipped in with 31 yards and two TDs on four carries.
Caden Bellis, who did not throw a pass in the second half, completed 3 of 4 passes for 103 yards, and one TD. Sickler (43 yards, TD), Rossi (33 yards), and Sindoni (27 yards) each had one grab for the Tigers.
Juniors Brennan Sindoni, Jackson Clark, and Lamb each had five tackles to lead Tioga, and Silvestri, freshman Derek Mills, and senior Josh Benjamin-Doyle each had five.
Saturday’s meeting was the first-ever between the two teams at Walton. Tioga now leads the all-time series 10-6, and has won eight in a row dating back to a win the 2011 Section IV, Class D championship game.
Tioga, now 5-0 and winners of 32 straight games, return to action Friday when it hosts SVEC.
IN PHOTO 1: Tioga’s Ousmane Duncanson. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.
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