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Tailback Jon Fizer helped Waubonsie Valley improve its playoff scenario while halting Metea Valley's altogether.
Following offensive linemen Jon Harris, Tyler Caldwell, Anthony Napolitano, Dan Jackson and Noah Szott, Fizer carried the ball 27 times for a career-high 289 yards with touchdown runs of 62, 36, 4 and 52 yards to pace the visiting Warriors' 55-10 Upstate Eight Valley Division victory in Aurora.
Fizer unofficially stands at 1,052 yards rushing for the Warriors, now 7-2 and second in the UEC Valley at 5-1 behind 6-0 Neuqua Valley. Adding 116 yards and a 61-yard touchdown run by Tony Durns — Mr. Outside to Fizer's Mr. Inside — Waubonsie Valley ran for 541 yards and gained 31 first downs.
"My offensive line, they did a wonderful job, and I'd definitely take those guys out for a dinner or something," Fizer said. "I think the (stadium announcer) said I broke 1,000 yards this year. All year they've been blocking their butts off for me and I just can't thank them enough for everything that they've done, all the hard work they've put in."
Metea Valley (4-5, 4-2) hoped to reach the playoffs for the first time in its four-year history.
"That's the best defense we've faced all year," said Mustangs coach Ben Kleinhans, a former Waubonsie quarterback and coach. "They're physical and fast. We've made a lot of strides as a program in wins and 4-2 in conference. We've taken steps but we've still got a big step to go to get up to that level."
Metea tailback Jay Parker ended his senior season with 1,032 yards rushing, but Waubonsie defenders like Harris, Napolitano, Kurtis Chione and Kenny Woodruff held him to 51 yards. Aside from Blaise Bell's 15-yard touchdown pass to Nick Dodson, Metea's playmakers were contained.
"Our defensive line did a great job of dominating up front and that just freed up the linebackers to make plays," said Waubonsie linebacker Hugh Griffin.
Eschewing the option for what Waubonsie coach Paul Murphy called "the other stuff" — the inside ground game — his offense immediately produced. It gained 6 first downs on 8 plays in a 71-yard drive capped by Demario Webb's 4-yard run off a Fizer dive fake and pitch from quarterback Jack Eddy.
The Warriors' main trouble was themselves, fumbling twice leading to a 22-yard field goal by Metea's Michael Sfikas and, later, the Bell-to-Dodson touchdown that brought the Mustangs within 14-10 early in the second quarter.
Waubonsie scored on three straight possessions before halftime for a 35-10 lead, the last a 16-yard Eddy pass to Christian Gibbs, who went up between two defenders in the back of the end zone.
"With these kids it's all where is it between their ears," Murphy said. "If they're where they're supposed to be between their ears they're a good football team. And tonight we showed we're a good football team."
Thus ended the first full four-year class of Metea Valley varsity football players. A playoff appearance was denied but players such as linebacker Paul LaBarbera relished the journey.
"It's been so much fun to play with these guys, especially the seniors, playing with them all four years," he said. "Just being a part of this team, it means everything to me. I'm going to miss it so much."