Nov 16, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Mingled together on the turf at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Bragman Stadium on a chilly Saturdya night, Oneida football players and fans reveled in the team’s continued ascent into new and exciting territory.
With a 27-21 victory over Waverly in the Class B regional finals, the Indians secured its first-ever trip to the state semifinal round, where it will take on Section V champion Bath-Haverling at PAETEC Park in Rochester.
“It’s another big win for us and our community,” said senior quarterback Ryan Kramer. “And we’re not just satisfied with this. We want to keep playing football.”
And Oneida is still playing, as the lone Section III champion to make it out of the regional round. Henninger (Class AA), New Hartford (Class B), Westmoreland (Class C) and Dolgeville (Class D) all got knocked off before the Indians took the field, adding to the pressure it already faced.
What stood in the way was Waverly, like Oneida a first-time sectional champion. The Warriors, who had dethroned Chenango Forks on its way to the Section IV crown, exclusively ran the ball on offense and had plenty of defensive speed, too. It would not prove to be easy.
Yet Oneida set the tone when it received the opening kickoff. Usually, two return men line up in the back, but this time Kramer sat back there alone, with two guys in front waiting for an expected squib kick, including Joe McCormick.
Sure enough, the kickoff went right to McCormick on the right side. Picking up two great blocks, McCormick tore through a hole and never got touched, a 79-yard touchdown return that electrified the partisans in blue and orange.
“We knew we had to get up on them, so we could set the tempo,” said head coach Bill Carinci.
By the time Waverly settled down, it was 14-0, and the game wasn’t even seven minutes old. Following Jesse Christian’s fourth-down stop, the Indians drove 58 yards, ending it when Kramer ran out of a closed formation 24 yards to the end zone.
Even after Waverly cut it to 14-6, Oneida’s offense kept steaming as it marched 61 yards to another score early in the second quarter. Twice, Kramer found Brandon Miles — first on a 28-yard gain, then on a 15-yard TD completion, both on rollout passes to the right.
Only turnovers could slow the Indians down — which it did, as an interception and fumble during that second period allowed the Warriors to regroup.
Greg Kipling, named Waverly’s game MVP, ran 53 yards for a TD barely two minutes after Miles’ score to make it 21-12. And off a fumble late in the half, Brad Suller hit a 26-yard field goal that made it 21-15 going into the break.
Special teams proved important again in the third quarter, when a dropped punt snap led to a block and Waverly’s Tyler Bowman returning the block 15 yards for a TD. Though the extra point was missed, the game was a 21-21 tie.
To recover, Kramer returned to his favorite play, the rollout pass, on Oneida’s ensuing drive. He found Miles for 19 yards on a huge third-down conversion, then found Nate Mallinder for 21 yards. On second-down-and-goal from the 10, Kramer spun around a defender, bought time, then found Miles wide-open in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
Oneida’s defense, pushed around at the line of scrimmage for much of the night, got tough just when it was required late in the fourth quarter. Waverly drove from its own six-yard line inside the Indians’ 10 before, on fourth down, Christian brought down Kipling at the five with 4:52 to play.
Now looking to run out the clock, Oneida did just that, as Kramer three times ran for first downs, forcing Waverly to burn through their time-outs, then watch helplessly as the clock ran to zero. Kramer had 65 yards on the ground to go with his 10-for-17 passing for 183 yards.
“Ryan just makes plays,” said Carinci. “I wouldn’t want anyone else out there controlling the field.”
When it goes to Rochester to face Bath-Haverling at 3 p.m. on Saturday, it will face another opponent that loves to run. The Rams picked up 354 rushing yards in a 28-12 regional final win over Lackawanna, with back Cody Hutchenson getting 176 of those yards.
So a physical, hard-charging Bath team meets a potent, high-scoring force from Oneida, with the prize a trip to the Carrier Dome on Nov. 30 to face Rye or Hudson Falls for the state championship.