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Party Crashers

Frewsburg Completes 5-0 Regular Season To Earn Section V 8-Man’s No. 1 Seed

Members of the Frewsburg Bears celebrate a second-quarter touchdown catch by Joel McLaughlin (44) during Saturday’s 8-man football game against Pembroke in Corfu. Submitted photo

CORFU — In the spring, circumstances were such that Frewsburg was only able to play a pair of 8-man football games before its season ended.

Fast-forward five months and the Bears are league champions.

Zach Winters ran 35 times for 368 yards and six touchdowns as Frewsburg beat Pembroke 59-24 on Saturday night to lock up the No. 1 seed for the Section V postseason.

“It literally wasn’t until last night when we were driving home that it was the first time I smiled a little bit,” Frewsburg head coach Terry Gray said. “With COVID, not knowing when you are going to play … we lost two games to COVID. … We came up here, played a 5-1 team, played really well and we’re league champions.”

Next up for the Bears is a 7 p.m. home quarterfinal against South Seneca/Romulus on Saturday. Frewsburg (5-0) did not play the Falcons (0-6) during the regular season.

Frewsburg running back Zach Winters looks for room to run. Submitted photo

“If we lost (Saturday) night we go from the No. 1 seed to the No. 3 seed. We’d still be hosting a home game, but catching a higher-bracketed game (Canisteo/Greenwood or Wellsville),” Gray said. “Our message was to get our home game back, be in contention for the division title, and possibly have two home games. Last spring we had one home game and we only had two this fall. The kids were very motivated by that.”

Pembroke actually led Saturday night’s game 12-6 early in the second quarter before the Bears ran off 24 straight points. Joel McLaughlin caught a 34-yard touchdown from Draven DeJesus, Winters scored on runs of 9 and 3 yards and Harrison Eckert added a safety during the outburst.

The Dragons stopped the bleeding by running back an onside kick 55 yards, but Winters tacked on a 35-yard touchdown run before halftime as Frewsburg led 38-18.

Two more touchdown runs by Winters in the third quarter allowed the Bears to take a 51-18 lead into the fourth quarter.

Frewsburg subbed as much as it could with its limited roster in the fourth quarter and wide receiver Patrick Spencer broke a 44-yard run in the final seconds, but slid down at the 1-yard line to end the game.

In five games this season, Winters has 1,296 yards and 19 touchdowns on 150 carries for a 8.6-yard average.

“As good as Zach was in the spring, I had no idea that he was going to do this,” Gray said. “He was a utility offensive player who played wide receiver, tight end, running back and a little quarterback … to now just being a dominant runner. He’s physical, just dropping people.”

McLaughlin led the Bears defense by taking part in 10 tackles, including three for a loss, and a fumble recovery; Spencer was in on six tackles, including two for a loss, and an interception; and Eckert was in on nine tackles, including five for a loss.

DeJesus went 4 of 6 for 81 yards through the air while adding six tackles, including one for a loss, and an interception defensively.

“They’ve been a great group to coach. We lost 12 seniors last year. We were good. People asked ‘what are they going to do now that they graduated?” Gray said. “Those juniors stepped up and kept it going. They played really good football.”

Frewsburg 6 32 13 8 — 59

Pembroke 6 12 0 6 — 24

Pem–Felski 35 run (run failed)

Fre–Winters 50 run (run failed)

Pem–Totten 62 pass from Pfalzer (run failed)

Fre–McLaughlin 34 pass from DeJesus (run failed)

Fre–Winters 9 run (Winters run)

Fre–Eckert safety

Fre–Winters 3 run (Sanfilippo pass from DeJesus)

Pem–Felski 55 kickoff return (run failed)

Fre–Winters 35 run (Winters run)

Fre–Winters 25 run (Clark kick)

Fre–Winters 9 run (kick failed)

Fre–Dustin 34 run (DeJesus run)

Pem–von Kramer 17 pass from Pfalzer (run failed)

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