FOOTBALL: Up Against It: Sheffield beaten by Kane in first AML title game

KANE – Sheffield has come a long way.

The Wolverines still have a ways to go.

On a muddy field on a chilly Friday night, the Sheffield Wolverines fell to the Kane Wolves in their first Allegheny Mountain League championship game, 36-6.

That still means a District 9 Class A playoff spot for the AML North champs from Sheffield, but at 5-5 overall it will mean a bottom-tier seed out of eight teams. The brackets will soon be announced for next week’s games.

Kane’s early points did not come easy, as the Wolverine defense was holding its own against the Wolves’ running attack, forcing a punt on Kane’s first drive, and a fumble on its next.

Third time is a charm, as Kane topped off a 42-yard drive with a 1-yard score by running back John English.

Sheffield’s next possession would end quickly as a high snap on third down forced the Wolverines to punt, giving Kane the ball back just two minutes into the second quarter on its own 40.

The Wolves put together an almost six-minute drive that ended with a Jeff Kocjancic touchdown catch from quarterback Kevin Cleer. Kane carried a 14-0 lead going into halftime.

“In playoff games and championship games, you learn in everyone you play,” said Sheffield head coach Dave Fitch. “This being our first (AML championship game), obviously we came out with a little more jitters than I would’ve liked to have seen.”

After a failed onside kick by Sheffield to start the second half, English took control of the Wolves’ offense, carrying the ball six times for 39 yards and his second touchdown of the night. The Wolverines would go four-and-out on their next possession, giving Kane the ball back midway through the third. When English wasn’t pounding the ball up the middle, Cleer was hitting his receivers on quick passes in the flat to drive down the field 81 yards to go up 29-0.

Sheffield’s lone touchdown of the day came with just two seconds left in the third quarter. Jareke Jackson broke loose for the first time in the game for a 34-yard score, cutting into the lead, 29-6.

Despite the loss, Fitch had a positive outlook and realized the broad picture of just what this Sheffield team has accomplished thus far.

“The only thing I can say to this group is they should definitely be proud of this accomplishment,” said Fitch. “I told them they will forever be remembered as the team that laid the foundation, to not only winning an AML North title, but teaching everybody how to play in an AML championship game.”

Sheffield-Kane Stats

Sheffield0006 -6

Kane77157 -36

First Quarter

K-John English 1 run, :21 (Dillon Mattis kick)

Second Quarter

K-Jeff Kocjancic 10 pass from Kevin Cleer, 5:55 (Mattis kick)

Third Quarter

K-English 3 run, 9:11 (Andrew Pierson pass from Jack Kocjancic)

K-Jeff Kocjancic 28 pass from Cleer, 1:50 (Mattis kick)

S-Jareke Jackson 34 run, :02 (kick failed)

Fourth Quarter

K -James Lingenfelter 12 pass from Cleer, 8:26 (Mattis kick)

SheKane

Offensive Plays3958

First downs617

Total Yards100295

Rushes-yards27-6137-156

Passing39139

Comp-Att-Int4-11-215-21-1

Fumbles-Lost3-03-1

Penalties-Yards4-161-10

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING-Sheffield, Jackson 11-93 TD, Dustin Holden 6-2, Tommy Reeves 4-0, Brandon Kipp 1-0, Adam Higby 5-(-)34; Kane,English 29-137 2TD, Logan Zuzek 1-13, Lingenfelter 4-10, Tyler Rolick 2-3, Cleer 1-(-)7.

PASSING-Sheffield, Higby 4-of-11 for 39 yards, 2INT; Kane, Cleer 15-of-21 for 139 yards, 2TD, INT.

RECEIVING-Sheffield, Kipp 3-24, Reeves 1-15; Kane, Jeff Kocjancic 6-74 TD, Pierson 5-35, Lingenfelter 2-23 TD Zuzek 2-17.