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Football Warriors want to break string of near-misses

Liverpool, perennial playoff team, hasn't made sectional final since '98

— A pattern has formed for the Liverpool football team that has stuck throughout Dave Mancuso’s seven-year coaching tenure, one that is pleasing and frustrating at the same time.

Each fall, the Warriors put out a solid, hard-working unit that forges a winning record and gets into the Section III Class AA playoffs. And each time, the goal of reaching the title game in the Carrier Dome remains elusive.

Not since 1998 has Liverpool played in the sectional finals, and the playoff exits have, for the most part, been excruciating for Warrior fans.

Take last fall, when the Warriors rallied from a 26-0 deficit in the first-round AA playoff game at Fayetteville-Manlius and led late in the fourth quarter, only to give up a last-minute touchdown and absorb a 40-35 defeat.

“That’s frustrating to go through,” said Mancuso.

To address that frustration, Liverpool again went to work in the long off-season, going on and off for eight months before the 62-man varsity roster gathered in mid-August for practices leading up to this Saturday’s season opener at Henninger.

Offensively, the approach will be different. Last year’s quarterback, Zavon Watkins, was a dual-threat player, as apt to run downfield as he was to run deep – understandable, since he was a multi-time state champion in track and field on his way to Penn State.

This time, though, Liverpool employs a more traditional passing type with junior Justin Capoto. As a sophomore, Capoto started against Central Square and played a half against Henninger, which means that the Warriors aren’t starting from scratch.

And most opponents won’t be centering their game plans around Capoto anyway, since senior tailback Jeff Edwards returns. He ran for nearly 1,000 yards last fall, capped by a 173-yard, two-touchdown effort in the F-M playoff game.

Edwards’ numbers figure to go up this season, especially with returning senior fullback Anthony Miller, all 220 pounds of him, clearing the way.

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