Fayetteville-Manlius bounced back from the disappointing loss to Christian Brothers Academy with a 41-35 victory over West Genesee to begin the homecoming festivities, clinching a playoff berth.
Homecoming week and the days and hours leading up to the game were full of emotions, for both the players and the other students at Fayetteville-Manlius. Despite all the distractions, the game was the priority for the whole football team, from the coaches all the way down to the ball boys.
The hometown Hornets (3-2, 2-1) came into the game with a few motives. To get the win that would claim a place in Sectionals. To regain their identity and to become the team they were early in the season. And to kickoff homecoming weekend the right way.
They began to accomplish their goals early in the game. After returning the opening kickoff to the 24-yard line, the Hornets began to execute their offensive game plan by handing the ball off to Eric Coley, who took it to the house for a 76-yard touchdown to open the night and ignited the Hornet sideline and the homecoming crowd.
From there, the crowd and sideline would energize one another. Coach Paul Muench and his assistants continued to coach despite the momentum and the players continued to stay engaged in the game, as they have done all year.
Coley was the ring leader in all of that. The running back showed leadership after he exited the game with a dislocated finger in the second half, which was the end of his night, by staying engaged and providing even more energy on the sideline. Before the injury, he rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns and caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Henry Josephson.
When Coley exited the game, sophomore Mitchell Seabury, who has spent the season playing at the junior varsity level, took advantage of the opportunity he was given. Seabury rushed for 141 yards on 12 carries and was able to cross the goal line twice.
On top of the touchdown pass to Coley, Josephson dove into the end zone for a touchdown. He finished the game 3-7 for 52 yards and also completed a pair of passes to James Rettinger.
Defensively, it was a tale of two halves for the Hornets.
In fact, the first three quarters were very good but they allowed West Genesee to gain some momentum in the fourth quarter. The Hornets allowed 7 points through the first 36 minutes of play and then allowed 28 in the final 12.
But they were alert throughout the game and didn’t pay attention to how much time was left in the quarter, half, or game. Their defensive alertness remained consistent throughout the game and was at its prime as time wound down in the first half and cornerback Nate Fischi intercepted a pass in the end zone.
A stellar running game allowed Fayetteville-Manlius to overcome the struggles that the defense would experience late in the game against West Genesee.