By taking care of what it needed to at home, the Chittenango football team assured itself a spot in its most important game in four years.
Patience and balance were the familiar themes the Bears chose to emphasize during last Friday night's 28-7 victory over Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, the first of four league games in the Class B East division.
This leads Chittenango (3-1) to Friday's key game at Oneida (4-0), as the two favorites in B East square off to see who seizes the inside track to the league title.
Coming off a narrow 7-3 defeat to Chenango Forks, the Bears felt good, having proven in that game that it could trade blows with a state powerhouse. That didn't give much comfort to VVS, who had suffered back-to-back home defeats to Marcellus and South Jefferson after a season-opening win at Phoenix.
For the first time this fall, Chittenango seized a first-half lead -- but just like before, the Bears saved its best work for later on.
Neither side managed to score in the first quarter as the teams got used to a Field Turf made slicker by the rain that fell for much of the afternoon leading up to the game.
Waiting for someone to make a big play, Chittenango found it when, in the second quarter, Dylan Furco found a seam and took off, 40 yards to the end zone. That, plus Zach Drake's extra point, made it 7-0, a number that held up until halftime.
As the Bears' defense continued to clamp down hard, the offense made its biggest spurt in the third quarter. Jon Stevens drove Chittenango to the VVS 14-yard line, then found Nick Boysen in the end zone for a TD that made it 14-0.
Then Stevens ran in himself on a seven-yard scoring run, building the margin to 21-0, all part of a night where he threw 20 passes, completing nine of them for 160 yards, an average of nearly 20 yards per completion.