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Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

CHRIS WINTERS, LEFT, and Joe Colacurcio of Liberty team up to stop a James I.O’Neill runner in Saturday’s game.

No Class C Title This Time

By Ted Waddell
LIBERTY — October 24, 2000 – The Liberty Indians’ (6–2, 2–2 Class C) hopes of staging a repeat of last year’s Section IX — Class C championship ended abruptly Saturday afternoon with a crushing 35-13 loss to the Raiders of James I. O’Neill (7–1, 3–0 Class C).
In romping over Liberty, the Raiders gave their coach Ted Shramek a nice 60th birthday present, and clinched a berth in the upcoming Section IX — Class C championship for the first time since 1991.
The tone of the game was set with a backfield fumble on Liberty’s first drive. Add three key interceptions, the strong running and agile hands of the Raiders 6-foot-5 Aaron Smith (nine receptions, 143 yards and a couple TDs) and a Liberty secondary that didn’t play up to its potential, and things didn’t work out as planned for the Indians.
At 4:10 in the opening frame, Raiders QB Jonathan Logan pulled in a six-yard pitch pass from Austin Wilson to start the O’Neill march to victory. A fired up Indians defense blocked the PAT.
With 1:09 remaining of the first quarter clock, Liberty QB Vince Evans connected on a 43-yarder pass to Tom Dittmar to put the home team on the scoreboard. The Mike Poje PAT gave the Indians a brief 7-6 lead.
In the final seconds of the first half, Smith racked up six on a seven-yard slant pass from Logan. Wilson took it across the line for a two-point conversion to give the Raiders a 14-7 lead at the half.
The Raiders made it a 21-7 contest with a Logan quarterback sneak over the goalline. The Mark Adzymck PAT sailed through unmolested.
With 6:22 remaining on the third quarter clock, Smith shook off Tom Dittmar and Rudy Houghtaling to take a 58-yard Logan loft into the end zone in a play that seemed to take the wind out of Liberty’s sails.
The Adzymck PAT made it a 28-7 game.
At 4:01 in the fourth quarter, Logan connected to Ben Greenspan. The Adzymck PAT ended O’Neill’s scoring.
As the clock ticked down, Evans connected on a no-time left three-yard end zone pass to Todd Davis to close out the game’s scoring at 35-13.
For the Indians, QB Evans was 11/23 for 133 yards, including 2 TDs and three interceptions. Poje led Liberty’s defense with 16 tackles, and picked up 37 rushing yards on six carries. Joe Colacurcio added four carries for 27 yards.
Logan was 14-for-21 with a total of 216 yards for the Raiders. O’Neill rushed for a total of 170 yards, as Wilson picked up 112 yards of their final tally.
“I just have so much respect for Liberty and what they have done this season after losing so many players last year,” said Raiders coach Shramek. “We knew we had to play our best game of the year to beat Liberty, and we did. Anything else than that, and we wouldn’t have won today.
“We love Mike Poje (the Indians star runner/linebacker/kicker)… he’s a terrific athlete and a player who has given everything to Liberty for four years,” he added. “Their tailback Joe Colacurcio did a great job.”
According to Shramek, he credited the win to a team effort, including “The boys in the trenches, the guys who nobody ever talks about.”
Although emotions flared a bit at the end on the field and along the sidelines at the end, Libertty coavh Mike Castelli had nothing but words of praise for his players.
“I’m proud of my guys, they gave a good effort and fought hard to the end,” he said. “They didn’t quit. We just got a little out-manned and they made some big plays on us. The hole was a little bit too big to dig out of today.”
“Poje had an excellent game offensively and defensively, the offensive line played well and our secondary played as best they could,” he added.
“I think O’Neill’s a really great offensive threat,” said Liberty QB
Vince Evans. “They have a lot offensive weapons, including a great running game, great passing and good receivers.
“I think that for the most part, we had a good team effort,” added Evans. We played hard, [but] I made some bad choices.”

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