Everyone involved in the Oneida football program had waited long enough for that moment last Saturday night when the team's captains went to the 50-yard line and accepted the Section III Class B championship banner.
That wait had consumed three decades of sectional playoff competition, including three previous trips to the sectional finals in 1999, 2002 and 2004 -- all of them ending in narrow defeats by four points or less.
It took the fearless leadership of Ryan Kramer and a determined senior class, plus a ferocious defense saving its best work for the biggest of games, for that long championship drought to finally come to an end.
And end it did, to the tune of a 20-0 shutout of Westhill that, in the words of long-time head coach Bill Carinci, took a big monkey off his back.
"It feels good to finally get one," he said. "Many of these players came up as 10th graders. We had a sense that this could be a very good years. They are a tough bunch of players, and they play together as a group."
As he had done all season, Kramer set the tone. He completed 12 of 23 passes for 226 yards, an average of more than 20 yards per completion, and also ran for 76 yards. Kramer either threw or ran for all three of Oneida's touchdowns.
Yet as Carinci pointed out, every player had a big role in this victory -- especially the defense, which picked a good time to record its only shutout of the season. It held Westhill to just 244 yards of total offense for the night.
All week long, Indian players had heard that its 50-7 romp over Westhill back on Sept. 12 only came because Warrior quarterback Mike DeCarr was recovering from an injury to his left (non-throwing shoulder.