Chester Gets Its First Win Of The Season As Liberty Reckons With Its First Loss In Hambletonians’ Non-League Win Over The Indians
Chester 42, Liberty 22
By RICHARD A. ROSS
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LIBERTY, NY—A team’s record can be deceiving, especially early in the season prior to league encounters. Heading into their non-league encounter with Liberty, Class D Chester was 0-2, while Liberty was 2-0.
In the storied history of Chester football under Coach Ron Stover, the Hambletonians had never gotten off to an 0-2 start before but based on this game’s performance against Class C Liberty, you can take it to the bank that winning will once again become pro forma for the talented albeit young Hambos.
Clearly there was much more here than could be assessed by their respective records. Chester opened its season against Westchester’s Hackley School, a private school that actively recruits players and is therefore ineligible to participate in the state playoffs. In fact the Hackley School which would be a Class B school by size, plays a completely independent schedule and does not belong to any league. They beat talented Chester 40-29. They led 26-0 in the third quarter. Chester’s week two 17-13 loss to Class B Burke was a crushing defeat. Not only did Chester see Burke’s Matt Pryzbocki score on a three-yard run with a minute to play, but Chester’s game-winning drive in the final minute went up in smoke at the Eagles’ five yard line.
Then there was Liberty’s unbeaten run to start the season. Their 41-0 opening week win over Livingston Manor which was returning to varsity play after a one-year hiatus in junior varsity was no contest. Last week Liberty eked out a 7-0 overtime win over rebuilding O’Neill. That said, Liberty players seemed quite confident that Chester would easily become their third notch in the gun.
Needless to say Chester had other ideas.
Chester simply overpowered Liberty from the get-go with great line play on both sides of the ball and a pair of offensive weapons in senior quarterback Vinny Aloi and junior running back Angel Suarez. Both played in last year’s 42-13 Class D state title loss to Randolph, though Suarez played in the slot as he had to wait until this year to get the ball as the featured back now that standout Lawrence Young had graduated.
The game was still young but the Indians looked shell-shocked as their offense struggled mightily against Chester’s swarming defense. Meanwhile the Hambos wasted no time in setting the tone. On their very first series, senior quarterback Vinny Aloi connected with to junior tight end Justin Feldman to draw first blood with 6:36 remaining in the first quarter. Senior Kyle Marco split the uprights and Chester took a 7-0 lead.
Liberty went three and out as did Chester but on Liberty’s next series, a fumble gave Chester the ball back at the Liberty 36. Two plays later Aloi scampered ten yards with 1:15 to go in the stanza. Marco was perfect again and now it was 14-0.
An interception of a pass thrown by Liberty quarterback Morris Schrader by Chester’s Timothy Boyd defined the end of the quarter.
Suarez seemed unstoppable, hitting the hole with rapid-fire precision behind great blocks. He cut back, juked and jived as he was enroute to 171 first half yards on 21 carries. By game’s end he’d tally 217 on 28 touches.
With 6:41 to play in the second quarter he dashed in from the four yard line to make it 20-0. Marco added a third PAT as Chester cruised to the 21-0 lead.
Schrader threw another pick as Liberty was getting close to scoring. Liberty’s Brandon Sadler picked the ball in the end zone and returned it to the Chester 18 with 3:48 to go in the half.
A megadose of Suarez moved the ball to the 24 as Aloi heaved another strike to Feldman to make it 27-0. Mr. Perfecto split the uprights again and Chester would take a 28-0 lead into halftime.
Liberty looked to shake things up and began by Joshwa Benjamin recovering the onsides kick. Using a bit more razzle-dazzle they tried a fake punt but Chester snuffed it out and got the ball on downs. Suarez went back to work. Chester didn’t score in the third quarter but they opened the fourth quarter with a 32-yard TD pass from Aloi to junior Wilson Jimenez with 11:52 to go to make it 34-0. Marco made it 35-zip.
Stover inserted a number of second string players and Liberty came alive beginning with Kevin Morgans’ 46-yard TD run at 10:56 to make it 35-6. Bringing on soccer kicking standout Brendan Siegel it looked like a PAT was a given but Patrick Fitzpatrick took the snap and ran it in for two points.
Liberty’s onsides kick was recovered by Chester and with 6:50 to go in the game the Hambletonians answered back with a two-yard TD run by fullback Chris Battiato to make it 41-8. Marco made it 42-8.
Liberty junior Shane Black followed suit with an electrifying 75-yard kickoff return to make it 42-15. Siegal split the uprights to make it 42-15. Liberty converted an interception into a subsequent TD as junior Grant Harmann tossed a 17-yard TD pass to senior Stephen Johnson. Siegal was perfect again and the score stood at its final tally of 42-22. A late field goal attempt by Siegal had sailed wide left.
Coach Stover was clearly pleased with the effort. “We came on strong and established the early lead. Next week we start our league play in agame verus Pine Plains. “ Stover commended his team’s line play and the running evinced by Suarez.
Liberty Coach John Wilhelm felt his team played much better in the second half. “We’ve known for awhile now that our line needs work on both sides of the ball. We’ve got to get better on the line. Morgans had a nice run for a touchdown. It’s something we’ve been talking about hitting the hole hard and not dancing and that time he did. All of our running backs need to trust in the blocks and run downhill.”
Wilhelm pointed out the mistakes that hindered things. “We fumbled the ball and had two interceptions.” He went on to say, “Last week too against O’Neill and in this game we had our opportunities and we’ve had a slow start in all three games. We’ve got to get off to a quicker start and execute early,” he averred. “It’s not a league game. Our league schedule starts next week at Tri-Valley. The Bears are 3-0 in non-league play but as noted at the outset of this story, records don’t tell the whole story.
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