In their own unique and effective styles, the Jamesville-DeWitt and East Syracuse-Minoa football teams moved ahead in the Section III Class A playoffs, inching closer to a possible clash in the Carrier Dome.
The Red Rams relied on its usual formula of defense and power running to blank Whitesboro 14-0 in Friday night's opening round, just as ESM piled up the points in a 50-14 romp over New Hartford.
J-D's task was difficult on several fronts. Not only was it facing a Whitesboro side bent on avenging last year's defeat to the Rams in the Class A semifinals, it was playing a team that had won three in a row following an agonizing 0-4 start where the losses were by a combined margin of 13 points.
Add to that all the experience the Warriors could count on with head coach Tom Schoen in his 40th year at the helm, plus wet and cold conditions, and J-D knew getting through this round would prove daunting.
Neither team scored in the first quarter, but it was quickly apparent that J-D was finding more success pounding the ball on the ground thanks to senior fullback Rasheed Baker.
And it was Baker scoring on a one-yard plunge in the second quarter that got the Rams on the board, as Anthony DiGiovanni added the extra point. With the Rams' defense thwarting the Warriors at every turn, that 7-0 margin held up until halftime.
During a scoreless third quarter, Whitesboro again tried to move the ball, and again met with frustration, J-D's tough front line dominating the line of scrimmage as the Warriors would not even gain 100 yards by game's end and turn the ball over three times with fumbles.
Meanwhile, Baker, by himself, was responsible for 117 yards, requiring 32 carries, nearly half the Rams' total of 244 rushing yards. That included a series of runs that set up Baker's second one-yard TD burst in the final period, plus some big gains on late-game marches that helped J-D put it away.