Westlane tops Myer in junior football final
Westlane Spartans junior quarterback Chris Bettorossi was all smiles Friday night after leading his team to a 12-7 victory over the previously unbeaten A.N. Myer Marauders in the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association championship football game.
“It feels amazing, especially being the first team in 20 years to win,” Bettorossi said, after throwing a 75-yard TD pass to Deshaun Morris and a 45-yard scoring strike to Michael Grimo. “It’s great that Westlane finally won a championship again. We’re changing history.”
The Spartans opened their season with losses to A.N. Myer and Eden before defeating Greater Fort Erie. After losing again to Myer by a 32-30 score, the Spartans completed the regular season at 3-3 with victories over Eden and GFESS. Westlane then defeated Eden in the semifinals.
Bettorossi felt beating Greater Fort Erie in Week 3 turned his team’s season around.
“We started the season out slow and then we started putting points up on the board,” he said. “As we went on, we executed better and we started to win.”
Westlane was led all season by its defence. It had three shutouts during the year and gave up the least amount of points.
“We have a good defence and a strong defensive bench,” Westlane head coach Dean Mazzone said. “If one guy goes down, our subs are pretty good too.”
That gave the team confidence heading into the final against Myer.
“Defensively, we knew we could handle these guys and offensively we knew we would struggle a bit and we did,” Mazzone said. “The score was indicative of how we thought it would turn out.”
Mazzone knew the championship game would be a battle.
“We were confident but not cocky because we know that Myer is always a tough school and has an excellent football program,” he said. “We could feel the momentum rolling and we got better and better. Other times you go in against Myer and you say let’s make a game of this, but this time was different.”
The week leading up to Friday gave Mazzone a feeling something special might happen.
“We knew we were playing well and we were having real good practices with everyone showing up and the kids really into it,” he said. “The last two days we were ready to play, They were having a great time and it all came together.”
Mazzone has been impressed with how Stamford and Westlane kids have come together to form a successful football team.
“There are always rivalries but we took them in and they all got along so well and became great friends,” he said. “They make the effort to take a bus and come to Westlane and practice for two hours every single day.”
A.N. Myer, which entered the game with a 7-0 record, was prepared for a tough game.
“We expected it to be a close battle either way,” Myer head coach Jamie French said. “Last time we got them by two and this time they got us.”
Myer got to the Westlane 16-yard line inside the final two minutes of the game but couldn’t score. It was the second time in the game the Marauders got that close and didn’t score.
French knows it’s hard to beat a team twice in a season, never mind three times.
“Their group got better and better as the year went along,” he said. “We saw them coming and they really improved throughout the whole season.
“We knew it was going to take our best today.”
The defending champs have been to six or seven championships in a row and won a bunch of them along the way.
Tyler Goforth scored Myer’s lone major on a two-yard quarterback sneak that was set up by a 60-yard pass completion.