The game followed a celebration of the life of Angela Druker, who died Aug. 8.
It was a day of remembrance and celebration for the Penn Yan football team Sept. 13 as they defeated the Marcus Whitman Wildcats on the field and celebrated the life of a part of their extended family, Angela Druker before the game began.
The Mustangs ended up running away with the game, putting up 35 points to Marcus Whitman’s 12. It was the end of a fitting celebration of Angela Druker’s importance to the Mustangs’ family. Green was the color organizers chose to commemorate Angela and it could be seen on players, coaches, cheerleaders, and throughout the stands. The team released green balloons and a moment of silence was observed before the game.
“Angela touched the lives of several players and coaching staff, as well as several families in the Mustang football community,” said Ashely Dunning, a current “team mom” whose son Ashtain is friends with Angela’s youngest son, Anthony Druker. “Angela has been “Team Mom” to this squad in particular (the junior varsity team who also celebrated her life before their game last Thursday) since they started playing flag football. She has always been on the sideline with the first aid kit whenever there was an injury. Angela touched the lives of several people community-wide, along with the players and coaching staff of the Penn Yan gridiron gang, past and present.”
“She was the loving and supportive mother of Sean Stape, Dylan Stape, and Anthony Druker,” said Penn Yan varsity head coach Tim McBride of Angela. “She treated every player we had like one of her own and never had a negative thing to say. She will be missed tremendously.”
Planning her remembrance ceremony was a team effort. Kristen Duran and her son, Carter Earl; Sara Droney and her son, Joe; Jodi Jones and her son Jackson Jones, Ashley James and her son, Michael Layton; and Dunning and her son, Ashtain Dunning all put their energy into creating the remembrance.
The game commenced after the celebration of Angela’s life.
The Wildcats received the ball first as the game began, but after running back Justin Smith tore off a 6-yard gain on second down, Penn Yan’s stout defense forced a punt. A 13-yard return gave the Mustangs the ball in good field position at their own 44.
Mustangs quarterback Kyle Berna connected on a screen pass on Penn Yan’s first offensive play, setting up a second down and two. Running back Kyler Lloyd got the first down with a 7- yard run. Running mate Mekhi Mahan gave Penn Yan another 13 yards with a run, shedding tacklers along the way. A penalty on Marcus Whitman gave the Mustangs a first down and five at Whitman’s 23. A quarterback keep by Berna was stifled but Mahan put Penn Yan on the board first with a 23-yard run to the left side to make it 6-0. Kicker Brennan Prather added one of his five extra points on the night to make it 7-0 with 7:49 left in the first quarter, not letting the gusting wind bother him whatsoever.
The teams traded possessions the rest of the quarter. Whitman put together a nice drive that began on their own 14-yard line and ended with a touchdown by quarterback Seth Benedict as he scampered to his right on fourth and five and scored, lunging for the end zone at the last moment. The Wildcats attempted a two-point conversion that was stopped, making the score 7-6 in favor of Penn Yan with 5:45 remaining in the half.
The game took a dramatic turn as Mahan rushed for touchdowns of 28 and 26 yards and Berna scored on a quarterback draw with 2.1 seconds left before the half. That score was made possible when Benedict threw a costly interception to Damian Snyder with 29 seconds remaining. Instead of being down 21-6 at halftime, the Wildcats faced a 28-6 deficit.
Penn Yan finished the scoring its points for the game in the third quarter as Lloyd took it in from three yards out on fourth down with 4:14 left in the third quarter to make it 35-6. Whitman added a score from Smith with 47.6 seconds left in the game for to make the final score 35-12.
Marcus Whitman coach Matt Silco is hoping his team can get back to basics in the coming weeks.
“As for the team, the main focus is fundamentals,” he said. “Although we didn’t have the outcome we were hoping for Friday night, we showed improvement in all three phases from week one of the season. (We are) taking it one day at a time, one week at a time, setting new goals and doing what we need to in practice to keep improving. Keeping it simple and focusing on the fundamentals…more consistent blocking and tackling, less penalties.” Marcus Whitman will face Haverling Saturday at 1:30 for its homecoming game.
McBride was pleased with his team’s effort, but conceded that the boys still are expecting to get better as the season continues.
“I think we played better, faster than we did last week but we still weren’t perfect,” he said. “We have plenty of room for improvement but we’re progressing well.”
Penn Yan faces Attica on the road Friday night at 7 p.m. and McBride expects the game to a challenge.
“(Attica is) a very good team,” he said. “They play with a lot of confidence. Their best back is Zach Strzelec (#32). They run a double win offense and smother you with a lot of press coverage on defense. Should be a battle.”