Though in separate venues, the Chittenango and Canastota football teams each chose the same direct path to season-opening victories on Friday night.
At South Jefferson, the Bears beat the Spartans 33-16 behind Luke Bicknell and a powerful ground game. At the same time, the Raiders dispatched of Sherburne-Earlville 34-15 with its own powerful ground attack.
Right away, Chittenango found itself in an important Class B East division game against a foe in South Jefferson that's normally difficult to beat on its home field in Adams.
Bicknell and his mates didn't care, though. Running behind a line that included Adam Donner, Justin Henry, Aaron Jones, Derrick Furco and Nate Fox, Bicknell carried the ball 30 times, accumulating 213 yards and scoring three touchdowns.
What's more, the Spartans couldn't load up the line of scrimmage because Devin Christopher was busy finding his receivers. Christopher completed 12 of 13 passes for 165 yards, bringing balance to the Bears' attack.
Chittenango went up 6-0 on Bicknell's 13-yard TD run in the first quarter. He scored again from 17 yards out in the second period, this after fullback Nic Bacon went 19 yards for his own TD.
Up 19-0 at halftime, the Bears had a cushion against South Jefferson's late push, getting a big play in the third quarter when Christopher hit Bacon on a 41-yard TD pass. Bicknell's third TD came on a 19-yard run in the final period.
Canastota, under head coach Eric Van Slyke, arrived in 2010 with sky-high expectations after going 5-4 a season ago. The Raiders carry 16 seniors on its roster and believe it can take the top spot in the Class C South division.
Yet it's a junior, Kyle Sandford, that starts at quarterback, and he immediately made an impact against league foe Sherburne-Earlville.
Sandford's passing helped set up a nifty option fake that Sandford parlayed into a 24-yard touchdown that put the Raiders ahead 6-0.