Nov 11, 2012 Kris Russell Uncategorized
To the last whistle, the Skaneateles football team remained in the fight, a state Class C championship a goal not that far away – but ultimately, proving elusive.
Chenango Forks ended the Lakers dream season with a hard fought 28-21 win Saturday in the Class C regional final at East Syracuse-Minoa Stadium.
The Lakers saw its 2012 campaign end at 10-1. Skaneateles lost for the first time in 19 games, dating back to a 2010 Section III Class B quarterfinal defeat at Cazenovia.
A sloppy first half doomed the Lakers’ winning streak. Three turnovers, along with multiple offside penalties, were the main culprits.
“We just made too many mistakes in the first half and we just didn’t quite make enough plays in the end,” Skaneateles coach Joe Sindoni said. “You saw saw the heart and character of our kids by the way they played in the second half. These guys just battled to the end.”
As bad as that first half was, Skaneateles only trailed 14-7 at the break. In fact, the Lakers scored first, on its opening drive, the march concluding when Colin Jones caught a 26-yard pass from Conor Herr.
The Blue Devils wasted little time responding. Forks took the resulting kickoff and marched down the field, scoring less than two minutes after Jones’ touchdown.
They traded possessions before The Blue Devils was on its way again. Forks’ punishing ground attack was rewarded when star running back Isaiah Zimmer rumbled in from 16 yards, which gave his side that 14-7 halftime margin.
Herr opened the second half with a quarterback sneak. He took a hard hit and appeared to injure his shoulder, an echo of a year ago, when he tore his ACL in the playoffs against Watertown IHC.
Things got worse for the Lakers later in the quarter, when Zimmer scored from nine yards out to make it 21-7. Zimmer’s tally capped another drive in which Forks ran the ball exclusively.
“We knew (Forks) was going to run,” Sindoni said. “We played 10 guys in the box and they still ran. They’re tough, very physical and very strong up front. And they’re very good at what they do.”
Skaneateles is very good at passing, and that’s what got the Lakers back in the game. Herr, who took off his linebacker duties to rehabilitate his shoulder, drove Skaneateles 75 yards to a touchdown. Herr completed the drive with a two yard run with 10:54 to play.
Again, though, the Lakers learned quickly just how good the Blue Devils were. Forks scored on its next play from scrimmage, a 50-yard end-around by Jake Green, to up its lead to 28-14.
But Skaneateles refused to quit. Herr hooked up with Jake Cooney for 56 yards to go deep into Blue Devils territory, and Herr finished it with another pass to Cooney, a fine 12-yard toss to cut the margin back to a touchdown.
The Lakers then stopped two Forks drives, giving itself good chances to tie. But each of those possessions ended when the Lakers turned the ball over on downs.
Blue Devils coach Dave Hogan came away impressed with Skaneateles. “They’re just unbelievably tough,” he said. “It’s very tough to cover them. They have everything you can ask for from an offense.”
The Lakers finished with 381 offensive yards. Herr had 307 yards through the air, completing 23 of 48 passes. Most of those yards came after he suffered his injury.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s a more severe injury to his shoulder than we thought,” Sindoni said. “He’s just a tough kid. He wasn’t going to let an injury take him out of the game.”
Cooney was Herr’s favorite target. The senior caught 12 passes for 144 yards to earn team MVP honors. Max Dwyer finished with four catches for 76 yards. Jones had two catches for 36 yards. Running back Max Weiss carried the ball 16 times for 65 yards.
Sindoni wasn’t looking forward to his postgame speech.
“It hurts and I’ve got a bunch of kids that are hurting real bad right now because they put a lot of themselves into this,” Sindoni said. “But that’s this game.”