By AARON MANSFIELD
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — KENMORE — Former players donned jerseys and varsity jackets and traffic slowed to a halt, as seemingly the whole village of Kenmore walked down Parker Boulevard to Adams Field Saturday afternoon.
The residents filed into their color-coded sections: Royal and white on one side of the field, navy and gold on the other. It was time for East against West, the classic rivalry dating back to the schools' split from Kenmore High School to separate institutions in 1959. Time for two 2-4 teams to go head to head in a high-intensity, hyper-competitive showdown that East hadn't won since 2007.
Ken West's elusive junior running back, Alex Price, led his team from behind and West extended the streak to five years.
Price carried 31 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns, fueling the Blue Devils to an emotional 13-10 victory, though Ken East (2-5) led 10-0 late in the third quarter. A scary moment marred West's (3-4) jubilance, however, as Price took a shot to the neck with 36 seconds left and remained motionless on the field for 20 minutes. Price regained consciousness and was able to move all extremities before he was carted off the field and driven away in an ambulance.
"I was scared," said Laquan Saltar a junior wide receiver and Price's best friend. "I let a few tears out because he's like a brother to me."
West coach Rich Harris said he thinks the medical staff was being precautionary, and he expects Price to be OK.
"Any time an athlete in this game has a neck injury, they're going to always error on the side of caution," Harris said. "They wouldn't let him get up, wouldn't let him move."
As for Price's monstrous performance?
"He's just a horse," Harris said. "He's been our workhorse all year. He is our offense."
The Blue Devils only attempted six passes in the game. Price scored twice in the second half, once from two yards out late in the third quarter and then from 20 yards out with 7:04 remaining in the fourth to give his team its only lead of the game.
East fumbled on its own 5-yard line to set up Price's two-yard score. The Bulldogs were leading 10-0.
"You fumble on the 5-yard line, that's the game," said East head coach Matt Chimera.
Bulldogs running back Preston Smith, who coughed up the fumble on a shaky pitch exchange with junior quarterback Connor McMahon, had a solid game otherwise, running for 102 yards on 12 carries.
Harris said this win was important for his team for two reasons: First, it is a healing win for a team that fell short of its goal of making the playoffs this year. And second, it is a win the athletes — as they turn into the former players donning jerseys and varsity jackets — will talk about for the rest of their lives.