Tonawanda News —
When the lights went on at the new Clinton H. Small Stadium Friday night, Robert "Hap" Holloway, a Tonawanda High School legend, looked around at the new home of his Warriors and smiled.
He said Clint Small himself would be proud.
The stands were packed with maroon and white and the energy of the occasion reached its apex at kickoff. But the Warriors struggled offensively all game — totaling less than 150 yards of total offense — and fell to Lackawanna, 18-6.
The two teams played to a scoreless tie after two quarters, and the Warriors did a good job bottling up Steelers speedster Cam Smith. But the senior running back got it going in the second half and finished with 114 yards on the ground. He capped the scoring for the Steelers in the fourth quarter with 60-yard interception return for a touchdown, one of two picks on the night for Warriors QB Tristan Boling. He struggled in the game, going 1 for 15 through the air for -2 yards.
Lackawanna coach Adam Tardif praised Boling after the game and said stopping the junior was the No. 1 priority in the game plan.
"He's a great runner. Defensively we tried to put him in a tight box and not let him get outside," he said. "We didn't want him rolling left and right on us — we wanted to force him to make the throws. It's tough to make those throws on the run and in tight coverage."
The Warriors made a few mistakes that led directly to 12 Steelers points and the victory. After a big sack by Cory Adams in the third quarter, his second of the night, to shut down a Steelers drive in the Tonawanda end, the Warriors went three-and-out and had their punt attempted blocked by the Steelers.
Lackawanna QB Dylan Gregoire got into the endzone on a keeper play to give the Steelers all the points they needed to cruise to victory.
Gross said his defense played amazing and if Tonawanda could have limited the mistakes and turnovers it would have had a better chance to win.
"We played very well defensively. The game really came down to three plays, and some turnovers. Lackawanna is a good team and we can't make the mistakes we made tonight. The defense was amazing tonight, just one or two bad breaks and they get 12 points that we handed them."
Lackawanna's Chad Wrazin went down in the third quarter and stayed down for almost 30 minutes until he was carted off the field and into an ambulance. After the game Tardif said he was suffering from severe back spasms and was waiting on the results of CT scan.
Tardif said the physical nature of the game reminded him of the old days of the Tonawanda-Lackawanna rivalry.
"They have a tough football team. We had guys coming out in ambulances, carted off the field — Tonawanda is a tough team and they have some big kids," Tardif said. "It reminded me of the late 90s when Lackawanna and Tonawanda would play at (Ralph Wilson Stadium) every year."
Four Warriors finished with double-digit tackles. Tim Barnard led the way with 13 tackles, and he finished with 99 yards rushing on 18 carries. Paul Palladino and Will Galley each had 12 tackles and Christopher Mara chipped in with 10.
Before the game former Athletic Director Brad Halgash and City of Tonawanda Superintendent Dr. James Newton honored the first four members inducted into the THS Wall of Fame.
Gross said the whole night meant a lot to the program, the school and the community.
"The community celebrated the tradition of this football program and the people who put us here. It was a very fitting and meaningful ceremony," Gross said.Find @tonanewssports and sports editor @MattParrino on Twitter for complete high school sports coverage.