KINGSTON - Getting knocked from the state playoff race at the last half-minute on a failed two-point conversion try last week left the Wyoming Valley West Spartans feeling as if someone had knocked them in the head.
“After the loss last week, everyone was down, thinking the season was over,” Spartans quarterback Mike Baur said, “It was hard - the whole weekend - thinking all night long about that last play.”
Then the Spartans realized they still had a lot of play for.
So they played their hearts out one final time Friday at Spartan Stadium, as Baur threw three touchdown passes, Michael Sands caught two of them and Valley West stomped Scranton 56-28 for the District 2 Class 4A championship.
Both teams lost their openers to District 11 teams in the District 2/4-11 playoffs last week, as Scranton suffered a 49-0 defeat to East Stroudsburg South and the Spartans were stopped short by Easton 35-34 when their conversion attempt failed with 20 seconds remaining.
A devastating defeat?
Not for long.
“We strived for some goals,” Valley West coach Pat Keating said.
His Spartans were able to meet most of them, thanks to a newly-created District 2 title game that happened only because both District 2 representatives in the Class 4A playoffs didn’t advance past the first round.
While slugging Scranton, Valley West (10-2) accomplished a rare 10-win season, sent a senior class including Baur and Sands out as the winningest class in school history and secured the fifth-ever District 2 title for the Spartans.
“A championship’s a championship,” Sands shrugged.
This one, as usual, was led by the combination of Valley West’s two Mikes - along with three rushing touchdowns by junior Eric Acosta.
Baur answered a 75-yard touchdown run by Jake McCarthy with a game-tying 1-yard scoring plunge in the first quarter, then threw touchdown passes of 68, 12 and 65 yards among his 205 passing yards.
“One of our major goals was a district championship,” said Baur, who started his scoring strikes with a 68-yard touchdown bomb to L.J. Wesneski. “Who wouldn’t want to come out and play for this?”
Sands caught Baur’s final two scoring strikes to amass over 1,000 receiving yards in a single season and also came up with two interceptions in the defensive backfield.
“It’s an honor playing with the kid,” Baur said of Sands. “Kid’s an athlete. He should have been playing for more than one year. It’s definitely good to put on a show for the crowd, at our home stadium.
“I couldn’t be happier the way we went out.”
“We were real down,” Sands said. “Coach said leave that (Easton) game behind. This game, we came out with intensity, wanted it.”
Because of that, the Spartans walked away wearing the district gold medals they craved coming into the season and feeling good about changing the ending of their season.
“As hard as it was to get over the loss last week,” Keating said, “I believe we had a mature enough group to understand what was at stake.”
District 2 Class 4A Championship
Wyoming Valley West 56, Scranton 28
Wyo. Val. West`7`21`21`7`—`56
S — Jake McCarthy 75 run (Alvaro Fernandez kick), 11:07
WVW — Mike Baur 1 run (Ian Ultsh kick), 8:05
WVW — Eric Acosta 4 run (Ultsh kick), 10:24
S — Joshua Gonzalez 43 pass from Kyle Pieczynski (Fernandez kick), 7:32
WVW — L.J. Wesneski 68 pass from Baur (Ultsh kick), 7:14
WVW — Troy Yashinski 58 run (Ultsh kick), 5:45
WVW — Acosta 3 run (Ultsh kick), 10:18
S — Gonzalez 95 kick return (Fernandez kick), 10:04
WVW — Michael Sands 12 pass from Baur (Ultsh kick), 7:00
WVW — Sands 65 pass from Baur (Ultsh kick), 2:37
S — Marcus Morrison 1 run (Fernandez kick), 6:52
WVW — Acosta 16 run (Ultsh kick), 0:31
RUSHING — SCR, Jake McCarthy 13-109, Marcus Morrison 14-79, Joshua Gonzalez 4-18, Kyle Pieczynski 1-1, Nate Corby 1-0, TEAM 1- (minus 1). WVW, Eric Acosta 14-111, Mike Baur 10-53, Troy Yashinski 2-53, Bill Davison 1-0, TEAM 3- (minus 3).
PASSING — SCR, Pieczynski 7-20-2-97. WVW, Baur 6-11-2-205.
RECEIVING — SCR, Gonzalez 2-57, John Marichak 2-25, Morrison 2-9, McCarthy 1-1. WVW, Michael Sands 4-117, L.J. Wesneski 1-68, Chris Baranski 1-16.
INTERCEPTIONS — SCR, Anthony Tooson 1-0, Jordan O’Hearn 1-26. WV W, Sands 2-25.