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Football Lakers return to Class B neighborhood

If there is one constant in the Cazenovia football program - other than winning seasons and contending for Section III championships - it's the constant shuffle, done every couple of years, between leagues and classes.

Following a long and successful stint in Class B (including back-to-back sectional titles in 2006 and '07), the Lakers were moved to Class C in 2008, staying there two seasons, but falling just short of a championship both times.

Again in 2010, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association reconfigured the enrollment numbers - and again, Cazenovia moved, back to Class B, and into an East division full of excitement and intrigue.

Part of it comes from the fact that rivalries against the likes of Chittenango, Oneida and Vernon Verona Sherrill, generally dormant since the dissolution of the football Tri-Valley League, return in full force with the new B East alignment.

"The old-timers (in town) remember the Tri-Valley days, and it was fun," head coach Tom Neidl said. "So it's good to get back to it."

Cazenovia's players are also quite eager for 2010 to begin, especially after going to the Carrier Dome last year for the sectional finals with a 9-0 mark, only to lose to General Brown 27-14.

Many stars from that team, including two-way threats Cody Foster and Chad Dorrance, plus lineman Clancy Kemp and record-setting kicker Chris Rogers (now at Sacred Heart University), have departed, but a solid core of talent returns.

And that includes senior quarterback Jeff Hopsicker, who adapted well as Cazenovia alternated between a traditional I-formation with a modern spread formation in '09 and ended up with 351 points, an average of better than 35 per game. Having an experienced and smart quarterback like Hopsicker, said Neidl, keeps him from having to teach the offense all over again.

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