The theory went that once Cazenovia, the Section III Class B football champions of 2006 and '07, went to the Class C ranks in 2008, the domination would continue.
But the complete turnover in the Lakers' roster (just two starters were back in '08) caused a small dip in team performance -- enough, as it turned out, to allow defeats to eventual champion Westmoreland and to Bishop Ludden, the latter a 26-14 decision in the Class C semifinals.
Still, according to head coach Tom Neidl, it was a good run, one that underscored just how the strong the local Class C ranks were --a fact that remains constant as the 2009 season kicks off for the Lakers this Saturday at Altmar-Parish-Williamstown.
At least this time, Cazenovia has more returning starters -- six on each side of the ball. And on the offensive side, that takes lots of pressure off the team's new quarterback.
Off a successful tenure with the JV Lakers, junior Jeff Hopsicker moves up to the varsity job as he succeeds Carter Franz. Neidl said that, whether Cazenovia runs a traditional set or goes to the spread, the 5-11, 175-pound Hopsicker knows what to do.
"He's very smart and understands our offense well," Neidl said.
There's a lot of experience at the skill positions to ease Hopsicker's transition. Both top running backs from '08, Chad Dorrance and Zach Golden, are back, as are top receivers Justin Hoffman and Tom Colligan. Doyle Judge could help at the receiver spots, while Ben Romagnoli and Dan Majewski share tight end duties.
By far, the biggest development on the offensive side involves a rare move from the line to the backfield.
Cody Foster, who started at guard last fall, has shifted to fullback. At nearly 6 feet and close to 200 pounds, Foster did not have to change his body type to make the switch. Besides, said Neidl, the team needed someone to block for Dorrance and Golden, and Foster could pull it off.