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Lakers hungry again after surprise 2011 ending

Caz wants to atone for playoff semifinal loss to Oneida

Members of the Cazenovia High School varsity football team take a brief rest from their busy practice schedule on Aug. 23. The Lakers’ first game is against VVS on Saturday, Sept. 1 at Buckley-Volo Field in Cazenovia.

Members of the Cazenovia High School varsity football team take a brief rest from their busy practice schedule on Aug. 23. The Lakers’ first game is against VVS on Saturday, Sept. 1 at Buckley-Volo Field in Cazenovia. Photo by Pierce Smith.

— All went as planned for Cazenovia’s football team for eight games and 43 minutes as, last autumn, it remained undefeated and appeared on its way to defending its Section III Class B championship it won in 2010.

But it was those other five minutes that derailed the whole plan.

For that was how long it took Oneida to erase a double-digit deficit, score two touchdowns and stun the Lakers 12-10 in the Class B semifinal, a result that, according to long-time head coach Tom Neidl, was one of the most surprising and painful in the program’s history.

“That was a hard way to end,” said Neidl. “The kids weren’t satisfied at all.”

As it seeks to regain the satisfaction that only a sectional title can offer, in 2012 Cazenovia will benefit from having four home games, starting on Saturday when Class B East division rival Vernon-Verona-Sherrill pays a visit to Buckley-Volo Field.

There’s also the benefit of a larger roster, with 38 players, up from last year’s total of 31. That gives the Lakers the luxury of depth in case a key injury or two would take place.

Cazenovia can also take relief from having a deep and dangerous running attack around which to center its offensive attack.

It begins with Jake Wilson, a returning senior tailback. He pushed 1,000 yards a season ago and averaged more than nine yards per carry. Just 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, Wilson can use his cutback skills to make tacklers grasp air and turn short gains into long ones.

Whenever Wilson needs a breather, junior Andrew Vogl, at 6-1 and 150 pounds, can step in, giving the Lakers two experienced and proven backs. Mike Nourse is likely to line up at fullback.

The presence of Wilson and Vogl allows Neidl some time to figure out which of three players will take over at quarterback for the departed Tanner Whiteman. Junior Kevin Hopsicker and senior Alex Sullivan, along with newcomer Ryan Cook, all saw time in Saturday’s scrimmage, and any one of them could start against VVS.

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