Pop Warner B-Team head to semifinals

— It was a battle to the end of regulation for the Cazenovia Lakers and the unbeaten New Hartford Spartans, Sunday, Oct. 16.

Under a near-constant drizzle, the two teams locked horns at midfield with neither squad able to wrest control from the other. As time ticked down, it was the Laker’s swarming defense that would turn the tables on the Spartans’ unblemished record, forcing the game to a 0-0 tie.

Playing on the opponent’s home turf, Laker captains for the afternoon contest were Austin Spingarn, Patrick Frisbey, Jake Macheda and Angelo Annotto. Cazenovia’s Jack Gabor received the ball deep to open the first half, picking up 5 yards to the 30-yard line to set up the first Laker offensive series.

Quarterback Zack Conklin got steady runs from Kevin Stalder and Brice Basic before tossing a 10-yard pass to Anders Hansen. Moving the chains to New Hartford’s 30-yard line, another pass play was intercepted, ending the Laker’s first serious drive to the goal line.

Although Kevin Stalder, Joey Gates, Daniel Kent, Nolan Frisbee, Nate Morgan, Will Shephard and Matt McLauglin all had big individual plays, the Laker defense as a whole stalled the Spartan running game. Going to the air, Patrick Nourse, Zack Conklin and Anders Hansen all batted down balls. Clay Fox had the game’s lone interception on New Hartford’s 46-yard line with 15 seconds left in the third quarter.

Caz would get as close as the Spartan 12-yard line in the second half. But despite strong gains by Gates and Stalder, a fumble on fourth down would force the Lakers to turn the ball over to New Hartford. A series of holding penalties and success by Cazenovia’s special teams stymied the Spartans as time ticked down.

In the last minutes of the contest, the Spartans threatened on first down after Shephard brought down a receiver on the Caz 40-yard line. The New Hartford quarterback would go to the air three more times in hopes of a long touchdown pass, but pressure by Stalder, Morgan, Kent and Macheda would ultimately prove too much.

With two ties, the Lakers take home second place honors in their division. Next week they will battle Camden on Camden’s home field, in the Semi-final Playoff Game.

Ann Shephard is volunteer publicist for the Caz Pop Warner Association.

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