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Football Lakers return for sectional title defense

Hopsicker, Vogl lead Caz push as Class B champs

— Even though Wilson, a game-breaking tailback whose long TD runs made the difference in the sectional final against Chittenango, has graduated, the Lakers’ backfield remains solid. Andrew Vogl takes over as the primary tailback, while Mike Nourse and Carter Woodworth are likely to see carries, too, at the fullback position.

There’s more concern at wide receiver, where a new group of starters are in place except at tight end, where Ryman Seeley returns. Returning players Alex Devine, Billy Rankin and Noah King lead the way, with many junior newcomers right behind.

On the front lines, there’s also some transition involved, but it’s not wholesale. Guard Brad Lucas (280 pounds) and tackle Cody Westfall (285 pounds) bring both size and experience, while Pat Karmis is expected to take over at center. Again, a host of junior newcomers are present, battling it out for the remaining two starting spots.

Another constant throughout Cazenovia’s winning run is a defense, put together by long-time coordinator Jay Steinhorst, that gets the job done multiple ways, whether it’s with a fierce pass rush, tight coverage in the secondary or expert tackling on the part of the linebackers.

At those linebacker spots, standouts like Bobbett and Bigsby will be missed, but not that much, since Nourse, who started on the outside in 2012, slides over and takes over at Bobbett’s middle linebacker position, while Woodworth and Hayden Polhamus flank him.

In the Lakers’ traditional 4-3 defensive set, Westfall, Brad Lucas and Reed Lucas will each see lots of playing time, as will Jake Schaefer, the lone sophomore on the varsity roster. Neidl said he doesn’t like to bring up sophomores unless they are capable of making immediate contributions.

Even with his offensive responsibilities, Hopsicker will also start at cornerback. Neidl said he understands the risk, but added that Schaefer or Keaton Ackerman are capable backup quarterbacks if the need arises. Ackerman is part of the secondary, too, as is Rankin and King.

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