Oct 28, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
No courtrooms and no controversy this time around – the Skaneateles football team is really going to the Carrier Dome as the newly-crowned Section III Class C-1 champions.
With a diverse attack that continued to produce big plays every time it needed to, the Lakers defeated Bishop Ludden, 38-19, in Saturday night’s C-1 title game at Marcellus High School.
If anything, the game spotlighted just how strong the Lakers’ ground game has become. Max Weiss had, perhaps the best game of his varsity career, amassing 212 yards on 34 carries, an average of better than six yards per carry, while quarterback Conor Herr gained 111 yards on 25 carries.
“It was a more ground oriented game plan,” said head coach Joe Sindoni. “The kids did what we asked them to do.
“We just saw something where we thought we could run the football (and) establish the tempo early in the second half. and hopefully tire them out. We knew they were going to play two safeties and try to stop the pass, and we took what they gave us.”
Going in, Skaneateles knew how tough the Gaelic Knights could be, having required a second-half comeback to defeat Ludden 31-24 in the Aug. 31 season opener.
Since then, the Gaelic Knights had won seven in a row, including playoff wins over Altmar-Parish-Williamstown and Canastota, leading to this title game rematch which exploded with big plays late in the first quarter.
It started with Herr throwing a 25-yard pass to Steven Bright on fourth down to set up his own one-yard scoring plunge. Less than a minute later, Ludden pulled even, 7-7, with one of its trademark big plays as quarterback Zach Harding threw a 51-yard scoring pass to Antoine Montgomery.
But it took less than two minutes for Skaneateles to regain the lead for keeps, using a series of long runs by Weiss to set up Herr’s second TD pass, a 31-yard strike to Connor Hill in the corner of the end zone.
Then the Lakers made it 21-7 early in the second period. Continuing to find different receivers, Herr went 48 yards to Max Dwyer, and called his own number again on a three-yard scoring run one play later.
Harding’s second TD pass to Montgomery, covering 25 yards, cut Skaneateles’ lead to 21-13 late in the half, and it looked to be gaining momentum as two 15-yard penalties against the Lakers on the scoring play led to a rare kickoff deep inside Skaneateles territory.
But Herr, doing everything for the Lakers, returned it near midfield (running over one Ludden tackler in the process), setting up one more scoring march, capped by Herr going to Bright on a seven-yard scoring strike with 19.5 seconds left, which made it 28-13 going to the break.
A key to the game was what the Lakers did after receiving the second-half kickoff, putting together an 80-yard march that deftly mixed runs from Weiss and timely throws from Herr.
Jake Cooney, who had just one catch in the first half, made a spectacular one-handed catch on a five-yard TD pass, similar to the catches he made late in the first meeting with Ludden as the Lakers rallied to win.
Harding again responded less than a minute later with a long TD pass, 47 yards to Malik Stenson, but again Ludden missed the two-point attempt, leaving it at 35-19.
Both sides would commit turnovers late in the period. Ludden picked up a fumble at the Lakers’ 30, only to give up the ball two plays later as the ubiquitous Herr fell on it.
Skaneateles held the ball for the first half of the fourth quarter, and while it didn’t lead to points, it quickly got the ball back and clinched the game when Colin Alexander, already five-for-five on extra points, connected on a 25-yard field goal.
Herr threw 19 passes, completing 13 of them to six different receivers for 183 yards and those three scores.
It’s ironic that Skaneateles will face Herkimer, who smashed Lowville 41-7 in the C-2 final, for the overall Class C championship in the Dome. This was supposed to be the final in 2011 before Section III removed the Lakers from the playoffs amid allegations that some players were recruited.
Exactly 12 months later, the Lakers and Magicians have no roadblocks and will settle the sectional title between them.