By John Schiano
Ask a casual observer to rattle off the Rochester area’s most prolific quarterbacks and Ben Bostick’s name isn’t likely to come up first.
But ask Aquinas coach Chris Battaglia who he wants taking snaps for the defending New York State Public High School Athletic Association champions, winners of 22 straight games, and he will tell you the 5-foot-9 senior is his guy.
“He’s a very calm man back there, calm all the way,” Battaglia said. “That’s perfect for a quarterback. He’s always good and always consistent back there. It’s easy to stay with him.”
Apparently so. Though his throwing numbers are dwarfed by many quarterbacks in these pass-happy days of spread offenses, Bostick is in his third year as a varsity starter for one of the most storied programs in state football history. At a talent-laden school such as Aquinas, which has four state championships since 1998, anything less than a stellar performance can cost a player his spot on the depth chart without warning.
And though Bostick’s statistics don’t lend themselves to adulation from fans or attention by the media because the running game is the meat and potatoes of the offense, he has the Little Irish back in the Section V Class A final this weekend against Victor.
Bostick will be on the field across from Blue Devils senior Chris Rose, who threw for 292 yards and four TDs Friday (bringing his season totals to 1,852 and 23, respectively) hours after Bostick went 3-for-5 for 42 yards.
“Oh, we can throw it,” Bostick said. “We’re about more than running the ball, but running works for us. We’ll run until someone can stop it, so get used to it, I guess.”
And Bostick is completely on board with that. He understands that his 12-for-15 performance for 170 yards and a score against Bishop Timon in Week 6 was only his coaches’ warning to future opponents rather than a shift from the running game powered by a huge offensive line and tailback Casey Vogl.
“I love to play this game,” Bostick said, “But the only stat that counts is your number of wins. I don’t care how the game is decided, I just care if we win. I’ll sit on the bench and take the win any time.”
Sitting on the bench, of course, is actually a foreign concept to Bostick. He started for the junior varsity as a freshman and took over the varsity helm early in his sophomore season. He’s also an invaluable part of the baseball team, playing middle infield and all three outfield positions at various times. His college future is most likely on the diamond.
“My mind is going toward baseball, but I might still play football,” Bostick said. “It might be hard saying goodbye to football after this season.
More Football: Dobbs Ferry’s Section I Run Ends
It’s back to Square One for Dobbs Ferry thanks to a gutsy decision by John Catano to go for two in the Section I Class C semifinals.
The Croton-Harmon coach played for the win after Joe Tralli wrestled senior Nick Mainiero's pass from the hands of Rob Alexander to bring the Tigers to within a point with 1:30 left on Saturday. Mainiero then connected on a rollout pass to sophomore Matt Tralli for the conversion and the 22-21 victory, ending the Eagles' 69-game winning streak against Section I opposition since 2001.
Croton-Harmon, which fell behind by 14-0 in the first quarter, needed to make a final stop after the Eagles drove to the Croton-Harmon 20 with :46 left, and Matt Tralli came through with the game-clinching interception.
"I give him credit at the end for going for two, not going for one and the tie and bringing it into overtime," Eagles coach Chris Wagner, who won a state title his first year and was the runner-up last year, told The Journal News. "We had our chance here, we had our chance there, but we didn't make the best of it."
Mainiero threw for 82 yards and rushed for 101 more.
More Football: Other Highlights From A Sectional Playoff Weekend
* Tyler Thomas hit Joe D’Apice for a 38-yard pass on Pleasantville’s first offensive play to pave the way to a 33-13 victory against Byram Hills. Moments later, the first of two interceptions by D’Apice set up Michael Morra’s 29-yard TD run and helped advance the Panthers to the Section I Class B final against Rye.
* Rye overcame Tom Hanney's 84-yard quarterback draw in the first quarter to storm past Nanuet, 40-13, by scoring three times in a six-minute span late in the second quarter. Connor Eck was 13-of-18 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns, and T.J. Storino caught scoring strikes of 48 and 16 yards in the second quarter.
* Defending Section II Class AA champion LaSalle drove 99 yards to the winning touchdown with :11.7 to play, capping a huge comeback to beat Saratoga, 41-39. Saratoga led by a 26-0 margin with 2:00 left in the second quarter thanks in large part to a 319-yard, five-touchdown game by senior running back Leejay Pollacchi.
LaSalle's rally began with a 5-yard run by Mike Murray (17-for-21, 337 yards, three passing TDs, two rushing TDs) with 1:37 left in the half and then a 65-yard screen pass from Murray to Tyler Washington for a TD with :01.9 left in the second quarter.
The Blue Streaks nearly put the game away with just under 5:00 to go, moving the ball to the LaSalle 4 before a fumble set up the 12-play, 99-yard drive.
* Senior quarterback Paul Layton rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns to lift Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake past Troy, 35-20, in Class A. The game was tied at 14 until Layton capped a 38-yard drive with his 5-yard run with :02 left in the third quarter. Two plays later, Tyler Paluba intercepted a Zach Dolan pass and returned it 23 yards to the Troy 9, setting up Layton's 9-yard scoring scramble.
* In Section III, West Genesee fell behind by 20-0 and then went to two overtimes to eliminate Liverpool, 41-34. Trailing in the first OT and facing fourth-and-goal from the 8, senior QB Jim Marks connected with Jake Fietkewicz in the end zone to tie the score. Marks threw a 20-yard TD pass to John Glesener to start the second OT and finish the game with five passing TDs plus one on the ground.
* Defending state Class D champ Walton routed Candor, 60-0, as Phil Hanley rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries and Bryant Mead had 120 yards and two scores on five attempts. Chad Gardepe made two interceptions for the Warriors in their 22nd straight victory.
* Junior Pete Noto carried 16 times for 109 yards, ran for two TDs and also scored on a 55-yard pass play as Webster Schroeder defeated Rochester Marshall, 35-30, in Section V Class AA action. Noto offset 330 passing yards by Marshall sophomore Ashton Broyld to set up a final against Gates Chili.
* Gates Chili ran over No. 9 Hilton, 41-21, as Rickey Stevens carried 28 times for 216 yards in his seventh 200-yard performance of the season. The Spartans picked up 404 yards on the ground to avenge a 47-32 loss to the Cadets at Gates Chili during the regular season.
* In Section VI, Lackawanna allowed an early 65-yard scoring drive before rallying to dominate Depew, 30-8, in Class B. QB Capone Smith carried 18 times for 227 yards and two scores. He also returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a TD.
* Maple Grove cruised past Randolph in Class D, 49-14, as Jake Larson carried 20 times for 189 yards and four touchdowns. Chris Secky was 10-for-14 for 220 yards and two scores, and Joe Caporale made seven catches for 191 yards.
* North Tonawanda avenged a 10-7 loss in the 2007 semifinals by beating Lancaster, 38-28, to reach the Class AA final against Orchard Park. A fourth-quarter fumble recovery set up a 39-yard drive to a 4-yard Mike Turro TD run for a 31-21 lead. Lancaster pulled back to within a field goal, but Brandon McClinsy iced it with a 5-yard TD run.
* Orchard Park advanced with a 28-13 win against Kenmore West as Dave Goltz made interceptions that started both of the Quakers’ fourth-quarter touchdown drives to break open a 14-7 game. Kyle Hoppy was 8-for-9 for 103 yards and rushed nine times for another 101 yards and two touchdowns.
* Byron Thomas’ 10-yard touchdown carry in the second OT capped Newburgh’s 29-23 victory against Minisink Valley after the Goldbacks trailed by 16-0 with 1:15 left in regulation. Chris Paolini hit Oscar Spooner with two TDs and Daeron Myers with two conversion throws to force the OT. Minisink Valley answered Paolini’s overtime TD with a Kevin Freeman TD pass but lost a fumble to end its possession in the second OT before Thomas scored.
In non-playoff action:
* William Floyd capped its sixth straight unbeaten regular season with a 42-14 win over Ward Melville. Quarterback Steven Murphy (5-for-7, 71 yards, two TD passes) accounted for four touchdowns as the Colonials won their 41st straight game.
* Junior JeVahn Cruz ran 16 times for 287 yards and six touchdowns to lift Half Hollow Hills West over East Hampton, 49-26.
* In Harvard Cup play, Kevin Chillis rushed 20 times for 272 yards for Buffalo McKinley in a 22-6 win over Lafayette. He has 1,332 yards in his last four games starting the season as a receiver.
John Schiano, who has written about high school sports in western and central New York for more than 25 years, covers New York for MaxPreps. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.