Frazier grounds previously-unbeaten Avella

| Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, 12:51 a.m.

Throughout the course of the season, the Frazier football team has built a reputation as a team that can rack up big totals through its strong passing game. But on Friday against Avella, the Commodores also showed that they have the ability to win the ground battles as well.

Frazier used a strong running game to set up its passing game, and the plan worked to near perfection as the Commodores rolled to a 33-9 win over the previously undefeated Eagles.

With the win, Frazier moved into second place in the Tri-County South Conference, one game behind Beth-Center, Frazier's opponent next week.

“We wanted to be able to mix it up,” Frazier coach Mike Steeber said.

Steeber praised his offensive line for doing the job of opening up holes early and often.

The Commodores set the tone on the opening drive, using 10 plays to move 78 yards for a touchdown. Eight of the 10 plays on the drive were runs, which set up the pass, and quarterback Charles Manack delivered a 5-yard scoring strike to Hunter Patterson. Manack completed 10-of-15 passes for 140 yards and three touchdowns.

“That first drive really helped us,” Steeber said.

Leading 6-0, the Commodores scored early in the second quarter as Manack hit Timothy Carson on a 26-yard scoring pass. And just before the half ended, Nicholas Smalich scored on a 17-yard run to give Frazier a 20-0 lead.

“We knew they had a very good line, and we had to stop their run game,” Avella coach Ryan Cecchini said. “But when they got their run game going, it led to their offensive success.”

Trailing by three scores, the Eagles regrouped and made a strong push in the third quarter. A botched Frazier snap in the end zone on a punt attempt gave Avella a safety. On the ensuing kickoff, Nick Kusich raced 63 yards for a score to make it 20-9.

The Eagles threatened to draw closer, but the Frazier defense came up big thanks to a Nathaniel Zurich interception and a fumble recovery by Patterson.

“Our defense came up with some big turnovers,” Steeber said.

Frazier was able to chew up some valuable clock in the second half with strong running by Zachary Mastowski and Ethan Weiser. Mastowski finished with 68 yards on 10 carries and Weiser added 35 yards on seven carries. Smalich led Frazier with 85 yards on 17 carries, most of which came in the first half.

Leading by 11 points in the fourth, Steeber didn't believe his team was out of the woods.

“Avella is a good team and we knew it would be four quarters,” Steeber said. “I didn't feel safe until our last score.”

After coming up with an interception in the third quarter, Zurich caught a 48-yard touchdown pass from Manack in the fourth. Then, late in the game, Alvin Ross capped it with a 37-yard touchdown run.

While the Commodores were extremely efficient on offense, the Eagles couldn't find much of an offensive rhythm.

“All game long, our offense struggled to move the ball and our defense was on the field way too long in this game,” Cecchini said. “We have to go back to the drawing board.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at

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