For the third time in five years, the Cazenovia football team ventured into the state Class B playoffs. And just like the previous two times, a team from Chenango, in the Southern Tier, snuffed out the Lakers' dreams of a state championship.
But unlike 2006 and 2007, when Chenango Forks knocked out the Lakers, this time it was Chenango Valley in the role of villain as it beat Cazenovia 27-14 Saturday night at East Syracuse-Minoa Stadium.
Despite the defeat, head coach Tom Neidl said he was pleased with how his team came back from last season's disappointment (a loss to General Brown in the sectional Class C finals) and got a sectional title this time.
"I'm tremendously proud of these kids," he said. "They worked together since last year's finals to get to this point and beat some very good football teams along the way."
The Warriors scored on the game's opening drive and never trailed, using a deft mix of misdirection runs and play-action passes on long drives that ate up large chunks of the clock. And CV's defense stood up to make big plays any time Cazenovia tried to catch up.
Through much of the first quarter, and well into the second period, Jeff Hopsicker and the rest of Cazenovia's offense could only serve as spectators, watching as the Warriors bolted out to a 14-0 lead with a pair of effective drives.
Following a fine kick return by Adam Greene, CV took the opening kickoff from its own 43 and, with a series of runs, moved to the Lakers' 30-yard line. On a key fourth-down conversion, Warrior quarterback Kevin Cox threw deep down the middle and hit Zack Collins at the three-yard line, and three plays later Adam Greene scored on a one-yard plunge.
Though CV missed the extra point, it still cost the Lakers dearly as senior captain Liam Ryan, a standout on both the offensive and defensive lines, left with a knee injury and would not return.