In a new class and new league, and getting used to a new starting lineup, the Cazenovia football team had every excuse lined up long before it opened the 2008 season at Sherburne-Earlville last Saturday night.
But the Lakers needed no explanation or alibi. Instead, it went out and did what it has tended to do -- namely, win, and win big.
Cazenovia's 33-6 conquest of the Marauders marked the start of the Lakers' residency in Class C, this after claiming the last two Section III Class B championships.
During the off-season, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association did another reconfiguration of the enrollment standard for each class.
As a result, six schools, including Cazenovia, dropped from Class B to C, which helped swell the number of Class C teams in the section to 26 and forced the formation of a brand-new Class C South division.
Both Cazenovia and Sherburne-Earlville joined this league, along with fellow Class B exile Clinton. Canastota, Mount Markham and Westmoreland made up the rest of the slate.
While all this was going on, the football Lakers saw nearly 20 seniors graduate, a talented class that included Coleman Koesterer, Artie Bigsby, Chris Nourse, Aaron Race, Ryan Kelly, Ben Dewan, Lee Namy, Marcus Schokker, Connor Ryan, A.J. Berry and Pat Roszel.
This meant that head coach Tom Neidl and his staff had a lot more questions than answers about the abilities of his team as it went to Sherburne-Earlville. By night's end, everyone seemed to feel better.
Mike Blanchard struck in the first quarter, going 39 yards for a touchdown. When Seth Goldacker followed by scoring from 10 yards out, the Lakers had a quick 12-0 edge.
Deftly running the offense as Koesterer's successor, quarterback Carter Franz made few mistakes as he helped the Lakers gain 332 yards, ably helped by a brand-new offensive line where Corey Marshall, Tyler Lawrence, Devon Howard, Joe Bono and Cody Foster pounded away.