Ever since their first days in the program, said Brandon Miles, he and his fellow Oneida football seniors have dreamed of playing for, and winning, a state championship at the Carrier Dome.
On the last day of November, the Indians will get a chance to live out that dream.
Punching a ticket to Sunday's title game in the Carrier Dome, Oneida shut down Section V representative Bath-Haverling in last Saturday's state Class B semifinal at PAETEC Park in Rochester, shutting out the Rams 27-0.
"We've been talking about this since seventh grade," said Miles. "And it's surreal. I can't even explain the feeling. We just played the best we played all season."
At least head coach Bill Carinci could articulate his sense of the moment as the triumphant Oneida players walked off the frigid turf to the cheers of hundreds of Oneida residents who made the trip west to Rochester.
"I cannot tell you a better feeling in (my years in) football," said Carinci.
Of course, Carinci had ample reason to feel good. In temperatures that plunged into the 20s, the Indians never cooled down against Bath, especially on defense, where it held the Rams to just 69 total yards.
Miles led that charge with eight tackles, three of them sacks. Nate Mallinder had a team-best nine tackles, while Chris Janes and Jeff Barres each had five tackles. Joe McCormick and Jesse Christian got four tackles apiece.
This marked the second time in three weeks Oneida had shut out an opponent, having done the same to Westhill (by a 20-0 score) in the Section III Class B final. And it could easily be attributed to what the Indians faced the week before.
At that time, Oneida had to survive a fierce battle with Waverly, 27-21, in the regional finals, a game where the Warriors exclusively ran the ball -- just as Bath, with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Andre McCloud and Cody Hutcheson, wanted to do.