Oct 05, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Through the first month of the 2013 season, the Cazenovia football team produced another perfect 4-0 mark, even though the vaunted defense that had marked so many Lakers championship teams of the past had faced some real struggles.
From surrendering 267 yards on the ground to Central Valley Academy in the first half on Sept. 14 to giving up 28 first-half points to Marcellus five days later, Cazenovia had not yet hit on the precise formula for stopping the opposition.
Fast-forward to Saturday’s Class B West division first-place showdown with Oneida, though, and it was a far different Laker defensive unit that greeted the Indians on the muddy turf at Buckley-Volo Field, producing a shutout as Cazenovia, the state’s no. 4-ranked Class B team, prevailed by a score of 26-0.
Head coach Tom Niedl was quite pleased with his defense’s efforts, saying that the junior starters who struggled to grasp the concepts at the varsity level are now settling in and starting to flourish.
“These kids are growing up and playing very well as a team,” said Neidl.
What made the effort more impressive was the fact that Oneida, no. 12 in last week’s state Class B rankings, had scored a total of 160 points in its first four games, an average of 40 per contest.
Cazenovia, led by Jon Nannery on the front line, Carter Woodworth at the linebacker spot and Kevin Hopsicker in the secondary, gradually shut down the Indians’ potent running attack with hard hits and all-out effort, eventually forcing four turnovers, three of them in the second half to prevent an Oneida rally.
Of those turnovers, none was more important than the first one, which took place early in the second quarter. Rain that fell just before kickoff, and lingered through the opening period, made for tough footing, yet the Lakers seized a 7-0 lead on its opening possession, Andrew Vogl breaking free for a 27-yard touchdown run and Keaton Ackermann adding the extra point.
A rare Hopsicker fumble late in the period set up the Indians in Cazenovia territory. Oneida drove to the Lakers’ 23, where on third down Rory McCarthy (who happens to be Hopsicker’s first cousin) threw a screen pass to Cafalone, who rumbled toward the Lakers’ goal line.
Just as Cafalone reached out to try and get the ball past the goal line, he was stripped, the ball falling through the end zone and out of bounds. Instead of an Oneida touchdown, Cazenovia had a touchback, and the Indians never fully recovered.
From that spot, Cazenovia moved 80 yards, the key blow a 39-yard pass from Hopsicker to Jake Shaffner up the middle. Vogal went two yards for the score, and though Ackerman’s PAT was missed, Cazenovia still had a 13-0 lead, which stood until halftime.
Any hope the Indians possessed went away for just that reason – possession. Oneida only had the ball for two-plus minutes of the third quarter, unable again to move the ball as Cazenovia continued to pound away.
Twice, the Lakers had long drives in this period. One stalled out, but another covered 70 yards, 12 plays and six-plus minutes, with Hopsicker and Vogl gaining extra yards behind the line of Nannery, Pat Karmis, Brad Lucas, Reed Lucas and Cody Westfall (back from an injury that sidelined him early this season). Vogl went the final yard for his third TD of the day.
Mixing up runs and passes, the Lakers, off a Nannery recovered fumble, had a short drive to is last toudchdown, scored by Woodworth on a five-yard run – a fitting reward for Woodworth, whose work as a blocking back has helped spring Vogl and Hopsicker for plenty of other big runs.
Vogl finished the day with 133 yards on the grounds, while Hopsicker ran for 80 yards while overcoming the muddy conditions to complete seven of 11 passes for 119 yards.
Hopsicker and Noah King would both tack on late-game interceptions, and the Lakers could celebrate at least a tie for the league title, which it might not claim outright until it plays Vernon-Verona-Sherrill on Oct. 19 in the regular-season finale.
In the meantime, the Lakers will pay a visit to Adams on Friday to take on South Jefferson for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Spartans are 1-4 and coming off a 41-27 defeat to Camden.