BY MATT PARRINO
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Tonawanda coach Rob Gross has been preaching all season about the tradition of Warriors football. It was fitting that two seniors were the ones to put a positive exclamation point on a season filled with frustration.
Quarterback Clayton Hess and running back Tyler Hughes had their hands in six of the Warriors' seven touchdowns and combined for three interceptions on defense en route to a Tonawanda 41-14 victory over Newfane.
"It's great for the seniors. They were sophomores when I got here and they did everything I asked them to do," Gross said. "They did a great job for us every year and I'm extremely proud of their effort every night. They've totally bought in and done everything right and they deserve this night. They deserved to win their last game."
The Warriors forced and recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff and struck first on Hughes' first of three rushing touchdowns on the day. He finished with 101 yards on 21 carries.
After the game Hughes was happy to get the win but sad to say good bye to the game. He said Tonawanda felt as though they got a bit of redemption after a disappointing loss in the last T-NT game at Clint Small Stadium two weeks ago.
"It's good to get the win in the last game for coach and all the tradition that's been here. It feels good," he said. "We wanted to get the win in the last game to redeem the T-NT loss."
Hess played like a man possessed from the very start of the game. He was flying around on defense from his safety position, ball-hawking and making Newfane quarterback Josh Kneeland uncomfortable for four quarters.
Gross told his seniors at the beginning of the week to play every snap like it was their last and Hess took that message to heart, finishing with 102 yards on 11-of-15 passing, including a 12-yard scoring toss reeled in by senior wide receiver Dave Hutzler to cap off a nine-minute drive to start the second half. The Panthers never could recover.
Hess added two more rushing touchdowns.
"I'm really happy we walked out of here with a win," said Hess, who celebrates his birthday today and said afterwards that the win was truly "icing on (his) cake."
"We all had to execute and we had a chip on our shoulders," Hess said. "We had to get this win."Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.