Skaneateles In one night under new head coach Mike Olley, the Skaneateles football team flirted with the possibility of losing as many games - one - as it had done the previous two seasons.
Just in time, though, the Lakers found its top form on both sides of the ball, and a big second half produced a 35-21 victory over Canastota Friday night at Hyatt Stadium.
The hiring of Olley in June to replace Joe Sindoni was not the only change Skaneateles had to deal with. Canastota, long a Class C contender, moved into the Class C West division, only adding to the league's depth, even as the Raiders were replacing top running back Zach Zupan.
Adding to the pressure, of course, was the traditional notion that a reigning sectional champion like Skaneateles is bound to get every opponent's best effort, and Canastota proved no exception.
Opening-night nerves were evident, even after the Lakers took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Tyler Parr, the new Skaneateles quarterback, scored on a one-yard plunge and Colin Alexander added the extra point.
Minutes later, though, the Lakers dropped a punt deep in its own territory, and Canastota turned that mistake into points when Matt Russitano got a two-yard touchdown run.
Continuing to pound away on the ground thanks mostly to the work of tailback Matt Lee, Skaneateles reclaimed a 13-7 lead when John Parsons scored from two yards out.
Once more, Canastota had an answer, and it came in the form of a revamped passing game. Andrew Sicilia's 19-yard scoring pass to Ryan Zophy, plus the extra point, put the Raiders in front 14-13, and right before halftime Sicilia pulled off a bigger play, going long and finding Eric Klaister for a 58-yard TD strike.
Now finding itself trailing 21-13 at the break, the Lakers revamped its defense, and that led to a shutout the rest of the way, starting with the pivotal third quarter, where Canastota could not add to its margin.