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Lakers battle past Solvay, go to Class B final

So an undefeated Cazenovia football team will go up against undefeated Westhill with the Section III Class B championship on the line.

If that sounds familiar, well, it is. The Lakers thrived in this exact same scenario 12 months ago, crushing the Warriors 32-7 in the Carrier Dome to achieve its first sectional crown since 2001.

Now the venue changes -- to Cicero-North Syracuse's Bragman Stadium -- but the stakes are the same when Cazenovia and Westhill reunite Saturday at 5 p.m. And if possible, the sequel has even more of a build-up than the original.

To go to 9-0, the Lakers had to scrape through a fierce battle with Solvay in last Saturday's Class B semifinal at Chittenango High School, relying on the magic of Coleman Koesterer and well-timed defensive stops to beat back the Bearcats 22-8.

It was, by far, the toughest assignment Cazenovia had faced all season. Solvay, 7-1 going into the game, massed at the line of scrimmage in the early going, limiting Chris Nourse's gains on the ground while, at the same time, forcing Koesterer into throws that sailed over the heads of open Laker receivers.

Also, an early fumble and a long pass play from Jonathan Orioli to Mike Acchione forced Cazenovia to make a stand inside the 10-yard line. On fourth down, Pat Roszel knocked down Orioli's pass, ending the threat.

Right after that, Cazenovia took advantage of Acchione's fumble on a punt return and marched to the game's opening points, a 31-yard Nick Rogers field goal.

But Solvay wasn't fazed, answering with a 77-yard march that stretched into the second quarter. From the Lakers' 33, Orioli ran an option through a hole on the left side and never stopped until he jumped into the end zone.

After an empty possession, and facing a 6-3 deficit (the latest it had been behind in a game all season), head coach Tom Neidl switched to a spread offense, something the Lakers had practiced all season but had rarely used in games.

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