Nov 02, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Another shot at glory awaits the Oneida football team as it goes to the Carrier Dome this Saturday in hot pursuit of a Section III Class B championship.
The Indians got there in grand style last Saturday at Rome Free Academy Stadium, blitzing Chittenango 38-12 in the Class B semifinals, a game where Oneida dominated — but may have suffered a serious personnel loss in the process.
Going in, everyone knew how tough Chittenango had played Oneida in their Oct. 3 meeting a 14-13 battle where the Indians needed to come from behind to prevail.
What was also true, though, was that the Bears, as devastating as it was on defense, had struggled on the offensive side since quarterback Jon Stevens suffered a broken leg late in that first Oneida meeting.
Put simply, Chittenango had to contain the Indians’ multifaceted attack, or likely see its shot at a first sectional championship since 1999 (when it beat Oneida, of all teams), slip away.
Oneida, wanting no repeat of that nail-biter from a month before, quickly went to work, driving in the first quarter to Chittenango’s 23-yard line before Ryan Kramer hit Wade Kline for the first of what would be three touchdown passes on the day.
More of Kramer (who was eight-for-18 for 132 yards through the air) would be featured in the second quarter, as he led the Indians on pair of scoring drives. He threw 32 yards to Brandon Miles for one TD, then ran five yard for another score.
On each of these three scoring possessions, Oneida would add the two-point conversion, as Kramer threw one to Kline and ran in two others. By the time they reached the break, the Indians enjoyed a 24-0 edge.
Good as that felt, though, the Indians paused a bit when Rick Rossi, the team’s leading rusher, left the game with an ankle injury. He would not return.
That didn’t matter too much in the short term, since Oneida put the game away in the third quarter. Miles caught a five-yard TD pass from Kramer, then stepped up on defense when he picked up a Chittenango fumble and returned it 38 yards for his third score of the game.
Though the Bears would get a pair of late TD’s, the main damage had been rendered, and its season concluded with a 5-4 mark, wondering what might have happened if Stevens not had been hurt.
Oneida, meanwhile, finds itself in a sectional final at the Carrier Dome for the fourth time in 10 years. Each of the previous three times — 1999, 2002 and 2004 — the Indians have lost close, dramatic title games — to Chittenango in ’99 (32-26), to Solvay in ’02 (14-12), and to Westhill in ’04 (36-35).
Four years after that painful Westhill defeat, the Indians could get sweet payback, as Oneida and Westhill meet Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Carrier Dome with the Class B championship on the line.
The Warriors, who lost to Cazenovia in each of the last two Class B finals, started 0-2 without injured senior quarterback Mike DeCarr. But since DeCarr returned, Westhill has won seven in a row, including a hard-fought 21-14 semifinal win over Holland Patent.
To win, the Indians’ defense must keep DeCarr from getting time to throw to his favorite receiver, Dan Ross, while also containing 1,000-yard rusher Sam Penizzotto. If so, it could finally be Oneida’s turn at the top.