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Early to the gridiron

High school football ready to kick off 2012

Get used to it, folks – those TV types are starting to dig Section III high school football a lot more.

There’s 22 games, including a full slate of Thursday-night rivalry specials, on Time Warner between now and the championship games in the Carrier Dome on the first weekend of November.

That includes the opener, Homer against Cortland, two rivals and neighbors getting back together to kick off the season…on Aug. 30.

Wait a minute, aren’t we still in summer? Wasn’t it just a couple of weeks ago that it was 101, and your main goal was to find air conditioning or gulp down as many liquids as possible to make it through the day?

Yes, this is about as early a start as the calendar allows, and for those 26 teams in the Class C ranks, it’s a real sprint – just six regular-season games before the start of a 16-team playoff where C-1 and C-2 champs will be crowned before we get to the Dome.

Why the double-up? Well, last year four teams – Bishop Ludden, Sherburne-Earlville, APW and Frankfort-Schuyler – finished with 5-2 regular-season records and didn’t get into the big show, while in much-smaller Class A both Fowler (1-6) and Carthage (2-5) did.

Figuring that this didn’t make much sense, the Class C powers-that-be voted that, in 2012, no such omission will be possible. Now a 3-3 record may prove enough.

Of course, the larger stories in Class C are about two unbeaten teams that need to regroup for different reasons. Skaneateles, kicked out of the playoffs for eligibility and recruiting allegations that caused a full uproar, is burning to try again, now with Joe Sindoni in charge, but a tough C West division with Ludden and Tully, among others, is ready to pounce. Phoenix plays here, too, 10 months after the loss of Ridge Barden, and it’s tough not to root for them.

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