MAROA — Even after a 35-15 statement win against the No. 2-ranked team in Class 3A on Friday, Maroa-Forsyth coach Josh Jostes cautioned his team not to think too highly of it.
"We'll celebrate it for a day," he said.
Winning against Williamsville, a team that had easily beaten the Trojans the past two years, should not be the high point of Maroa's season, Jostes said, as players huddled around him post-game Friday at Walter Boyd Field.
The goal is getting to the playoffs and winning a state title, he said.
Despite losses to Williamsville in the last two regular seasons, Maroa still made deep playoff runs, ending as the state runner-up both years.
Last year, Williamsville churned out a demoralizing 47-6 win against the Trojans. A fatigued Maroa-Forsyth defense couldn't get stops.
But the roles reversed this year. Sweeps, screens and draws that netted pedestrian gains in the first half Friday turned into big scoring plays by the second half.
"I think we wore them down a little bit in the second half," Jostes said.
After entering halftime in a 7-7 tie, Maroa's offense rolled in the second half, scoring 28 points.
Junior quarterback Ian Benner was key in tiring out the Williamsville defense, leading the Trojans in rushing with 14 carries for 77 yards and three touchdowns.
For him, the game made up for sour memories.
"Last year, it was terrible for me," Benner said of the Williamsville loss. "I was embarrassed. But tonight was different and we felt we could do it."
The junior standout gave credit to his offensive line for creating holes like the one he took for 35 yards and a touchdown after faking a sweep to the outside.
"I said, 'It's all on you guys tonight,'" Benner said.
During Jostes' long tenure at Maroa, the Trojans have fielded impressive teams with impressive players year-after-year.
Benner is finding his way among those greats.
"I said, 'Watch what he does this year,'" Jostes said. "He gets better each week. He's going to be something special. It's Ian's turn to be the best of the group."
To put an emphasis on the big win, Maroa's Gavin Clifton shoved his way through defenders, scoring on a 6-yard run as time ticked down in the fourth quarter. He shared the load with Benner, carrying the ball 17 times for 64 yards.
Maroa improved to 4-0 and is the sole unbeaten in the Sangamo Conference. The Trojans entered the week in a tie for the top-ranked 2A team in the state.
For Williamsville (3-1), quarterback Damon Coady was 15-of-27 passing for 141 yards and a touchdown.