We have a meaningful weekend of football to look forward to - three days of it, not two. Who'd have imagined it?
Already on the slate was the Section III championship games - two on Friday night, then three more on Sunday. In between, there was SU and Louisville, which a lot of people thought would be filler - but has turned killer thanks to the Orange's 6-2 start. It's a remarkable turnaround, and not over yet.
There's plenty of outlets to talk about the Orange, though. Here, we'll concentrate on the stuff before and after - how the 10 finalists got there, and what to expect on football's biggest local stage.
Each of the semifinals took a similar track. Sandy Creek trailed Weedsport going into the fourth quarter, only to produce 17 points in that last frame to knock out the Warriors. Onondaga, too, saw the issue in doubt against Beaver River until a late offensive surge backed up the defense's game's long domination in a 24-0 verdict.
So that leaves the Comets and Tigers to clash Friday at 5 p.m. in the Dome. Sandy Creek has never played in a sectional final, and expectations going into 2010 were modest. But starting with that Oct. 2 win at Weedsport, the Comets found magic, and coach Mike Stevens did a terrific job bringing a modestly talented roster to the title game.
At OCS, the expectations are slightly higher, thanks to the Mike Hart-Latavius Murray years. No one of that sort is on the roster now, but coach Jason Ryan emphasized strength and power, and got an 8-1 mark out of the Tigers that included a hard-fought 20-14 win over Sandy Creek in the regular-season finale Oct. 16.
What to expect now? Something just as close, with the defenses making points a luxury. Maybe OCS is a slight favorite, but it might be Sandy Creek's time, at long last.