Canastota football wins neighborhood duel with Chittenango

No, it wasn't a league game, and it would not have any bearing on where the Canastota football team might end up when the Section III Class C playoffs get underway.

Yet the Raiders' 28-14 victory last Friday night at Chittenango carried as much satisfaction as any post-season tilt -- to the effect that the players celebrated by dumping a bucket of water on head coach Eric Van Slyke, a move usually reserved for championships.

Much of that had to do with geographic proximity. The villages of Canastota and Chittenango neighbor each other, the school separated by just a small distance on Route 5.

To that end, they try to get together in as many sports as possible, despite the fact that Canastota is Class C and Chittenango is Class A.

When a space on the football schedule opened up in 2007, the Raiders and Bears eagerly seized on it and scheduled a game with each other, bringing a huge crowd to Chittenango's modern Field Turf facility to see what would transpire.

Hungry to topple its neighbors and large-school rival, Canastota bolted to a 14-0 lead before the first quarter was done.

John Coonrod finished off one drive with a two-yard plunge into the end zone, and Eric Cerio doubled the margin by going 18 yards for a touchdown of his own.

Chittenango began to answer in the second period. Quarterback Jon Stevens, fresh off setting a school record with six TD passes in a double-overtime win over Jamesville-DeWitt one week earlier, resumed his aerial show by going 35 yards to Andy Moth for the Bears' first points of the night, and it remained 14-7 at the break.

Again, in the third quarter, both teams went to their specialty -- Canastota to the ground game, Chittenango to the aerial attack.

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