Nov. 6—CLINTONVILLE — The Nighthawks have a stranglehold on Class B, and there's no sign that'll change anytime soon.
When Peru defeated Beekmantown, 20-0, in the Section VII Class B football championship, it marked the third consecutive year the Nighthawks claimed the title.
"A three-peat is hard to do, you know?" Peru head coach Ryon O'Connell said. "Give the credit to all the kids. The kids did everything we asked.
"We do things as coaching staff but the kids have to perform and the kids performed tonight. All credit goes to the kids."
Credit definitely goes to the players that suit up in the blue of the Nighthawks. This was emphasized by a next-man-up mentality the team used in the wake of injuries, especially to starting running back Sawyer Schlitt.
"We had a lot of adjustments to make after we lost Schlitt and the kids did an outstanding job going through our adjustments," O'Connell said. "The offensive line was outstanding tonight. Zach Engstrom played great taking over the tailback role.
"Ethan Breen did a great job running the team from the quarterback position. We lost a few players and things could've gone wrong, but I'm super proud of how the kids responded."
That mentality was on full display just in the movement of three players. With Engstrom taking over for Schlitt, he ran 24 times for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
"Our offensive line opens holes every time there's if you can't, if you can't get through that then you must be too big," Engstrom said. "That line blocked for me all game. I ran hard.
"All year we have the pass game and we have the run game. We have the best offense and the best coaches. We are prepared every game and we just come through with the win every time."
And what about what happened to the receiver position that Engstrom moved from?
Trenten Taylor stepped into that role and had two catches for 26 yards. One of those catches was Peru's first touchdown in the waning minutes of the first half.
O'Connell praised his team and the next-man-up mentality they have.
"It was great," he said. "Like we talked to Engstrom. We said you're the next man up.
"And that means we got to get a new receiver and guess who that new receiver called touchdown tonight. You know Trent Taylor's touchdown, he stepped up and made the play. So the kids responded really well."
It wasn't just Taylor stepping when needed, it happened on the Nighthawk offensive line too.
"Trent Boyton is a big one," quarterback Ethan Breen said. "One of our linemen went down, he stepped up and hopped into a brand new formation that he had never learned. He worked his tail off and was a big help."
Breen, who slid into leading the team after Zach O'Connell, said there's a sign the team has that states, "Don't let the tradition carry you.You carry the tradition."
He said the team showed it today by getting the three-peat.
"It's an unbelievable feeling to hold this trophy again," he said. "The past years I've been a backup for this program to Zach O'Connell, who was an amazing quarterback. It's just unbelievable to step in and take the reins."
With the championship, the Nighthawks move on to the regional semifinals of the Class B NYSPHSAA state playoffs. They will travel to face Section X's Ogdensburg, Friday at 7 p.m. at Potsdam.
Both teams faced a similar opponent, Saranac, early in the season. The Blue Devils lost to the Spartans, 40-6, to open the season. Three weeks later, the Nighthawks suffered the same fate, an 18-14 defeat.
O'Connell, who said coaches went to watch the Section X championship game between Ogdensburg and Massena, said both teams have improved since their meetings with Saranac.
Friday will be a tough contest.
The players know that too.
"We're gonna watch [film] and we're gonna practice hard, just like we always have," Engstrom said. "We're gonna stay bonding as a team. We have strong chemistry.
"I believe that's more than half the reason why we do so well. Everybody trusts each other. and I believe that that will lead us to more victories. No doubt.
Peru 20, Beekmantown 0
BCS 0 0 0 0 — 0
PCS 0 7 7 6 — 20
P- Taylor 23 pass from Breen (Garrow kick), 0:59.
P- Engstrom 5 run (Garrow kick), 6:22.
P- Engstrom 40 run (kick failed), 6:09.
B- Sweenor 5-17; Parliament 8-6; Broughton 1-(-5); Bibeau 4-8; Viau 1-(-5); Team 1-(-1). Totals: 20-20.
P- Breen 6-15; Engstrom 24-141, 2TD; Bridges 4-25; Supley 1-3; Daniels 4-12. Totals: 39-196, 2TD.
B- Parliament 7-28-0-105.
P- Breen 5-11-1-44, TD.
B- Sweenor 2-23; Hagadorn 2-11; Viau 3-71.
P- Taylor 2-26, TD; Engstrom 1-0; Duprey 1-11; Daniels 1-7.