By John Anderson, 10/30/21
When a quarterback who threw five touchdowns in a game is struggling to complete a pass during warmups before a playoff game, you know it could be a long night.
That is what happened to the Wellsville Lions, as a downpour of rain – so strong it stopped a sectional soccer game – did not allow the passing game off the ground as the Lions fell to Canisteo-Greenwood, 24-6.
“It’s not the best when you have to change game plans when you’ve been practicing all week on something you want to do tactic-wise, but it’s part of life,” said Senior quarterback Alex Perkins. “You have to adjust and overcome a lot of issues.”
On a dry field, No. 5 Wellsville (3-5) knew No. 5 Canisteo-Greenwood (5-3) had incredible speed with the run game. But the Wellsville passing game was open all night, the problem was the rain and conditions of the ball and field which prevented execution.
The Lions were in scoring position four times but came up empty, twice on turnovers and twice with penalties. C-G took advantage of turnovers to go up12-0.
However, Wellsville marched back down the field and scored when Perkins found senior Dalton Ketchner for a 27-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 12-6.
C-G scored once in the third and once in the fourth to seal the win.
Connor Ferguson made 13 tackles, four for losses and forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. John Layfield was in on 11 stops while Shane Davidson, and Ketchner had five tackles.
Perkins had to make an adjustment for the Lions touchdown as the play was designed as a wheel-route to Layfield.
“Pretty much the second half of the season, teams have been trying to attack on John so I went over the middle and lobbed it up to Dalton Ketchner and he made a great play of it,” Perkins said. “If you take away the two big plays they had for their two scores, it’s a game, seriously. It’s a part of simple mistakes that turned out to be huge plays for them.”
After the game, coaches told the seniors they turned the program around.
“It’s a dream come true. Going from winning one game (then none), it’s a blessing to see us seniors turn this program around and we hope it keeps rising up as time goes by,” Perkins said.
After the game, both teams, fans and support staff were gone. The scoreboard was off but Layfield stood on the field in the rain looking at the mud. He wanted to continue in sectionals and get looked at by college coaches.
“Really, I wish I had just five more minutes to play high school football and I think everyone does,” Layfield said. “I hope I can get noticed out there and continue my football career. I don’t want to be done.
“It was fun to see it all come together. Especially for us seniors. We were able to bring faith into our team and I think it really struck, bringing that 12th Man into our team really opened up a lot of eyes, not only with our team, but around the community, too,” Layfield continued. “People pick up on that. Turning the program around wasn’t just us, there was God up there. Especially when things get hard, you have someone to turn to. It also felt good knowing there was a community backing us and we all supported each other and that was a difference, too.”
Senior Jerry Havens, who pitched the Wellsville Lions baseball team to a Section V title last spring, was a leader in football. He had a team-high four catches for 57 yards on Friday.
“I’m grateful to my teammates, my brothers and the coaches for everything we had. I want to thank God for all the opportunities,” Havens said. “It’s a privilege to be out here and to be playing in this wonderful country. I’m glad we had a good season, we all had fun and no one got seriously injured. I’m thankful for that. This was the first time I played in mud like this and it will be a game to remember. It’s fun in it’s own way.”