Back in its old home in Class B, the Cazenovia football team found something else that was quite familiar - namely, a Section III championship.
Repeating its triumphs from 2006 and 2007 before it got moved down to the Class C ranks, the Lakers toppled Oneida 21-8 Sunday night at the Carrier Dome, taking control in the second half on both sides of the ball.
In one of the best performances of his high-school career, quarterback Jeff Hopsicker ran for 147 yards on 20 carries and also threw for 93 yards. Hopsicker's 40-yard touchdown run with 1:34 left helped clinch the title.
"Jeff came out this year with a great deal of confidence," said head coach Tom Neidl. "And he's been steady all year long."
In their regular-season encounter on Oct. 1, Cazenovia (playing without top wide receiver Doyle Judge) trailed the Indians in the fourth quarter, only to have Travis Mimms score a defensive touchdown and make a key fourth-down sack that led to another score and, eventually, an 18-8 Laker victory.
Much more was at stake in the rematch, with the Indians having found a power running game thanks to sophomore back Matt Barlow - something that it would test against a well-regarded Cazenovia defense.
And Oneida gambled right away on the game's opening possession, going for a fourth down near midfield that Matt Barlow converted. Just two plays later, though, Barlow fumbled, and Cazenovia's Ben Spangler pounced on it his team's 41-yard line.
The Lakers came out in a no-huddle offense, and had the Indians off its rhythm as Judge, Jeff Hopsicker, John Greacen and Jose Wells all ripped off long gains to get it inside Oneida's 10-yard line. Greacen finished it off with a two-yard TD plunge, and Nick Christakos' extra point made it 7-0 midway through the opening period.