Nov 15, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Three out of five, with the difference a fateful late-game decision to go for two and the win.
Such was the scorecard for Section III’s football champions once two days of regional activity at East Syracuse-Minoa Stadium had ended. Baldwinsville, Whitesboro and General Brown still have active dreams for a state championship, while Cazenovia and Onondaga saw those dreams fizzle.
By far, the biggest story of the Bees’ 49-20 victory over Corning was the return of a rather significant sophomore wearing jersey no. 32. Without Tyler Rouse, B’ville managed to fight past F-M and CBA and get the sectional title. With him….who knows?
Against a quick and potent band of Hawks, B’ville was in some real trouble…at least until the dying seconds of the first half. Just after Corning went ahead 20-14, it kicked off to Rouse. Big mistake, as one great cutback and 75 yards later, the Bees were on its way to 35 unanswered points and a return to the state semifinals.
Rouse, aside from that nifty kick return, merely got 213 rushing yards, and Parker Kiff added 118. This is the dilemma facing Rush-Henrietta Saturday night at Rochester’s Marina Auto Stadium.
B’ville faces its own dilemma, though, in the form of 6-4, 230-pound Ashton Broyld, who might be as good as any player in the state. All Broyld did in the regional final against Clarence was run for 299 yards and throw for 103 more. Think Cam Newton, without the scandal. The winner here gets Troy (who toppled no. 1-ranked Monroe-Woodbury) or New Rochelle in the championship game Nov. 28 at the Carrier Dome.
Whitesboro’s 40-14 conquest of Maine-Endwell last Friday night mirrored B’ville in that (1) the Warriors trailed late in the half and (2) the game turned with a halftime burst. Here, that meant 14 points in a hurry and, to cap it off, an absolutely astonishing catch.
The first part was simple enough – Mike Sullivan scoring on a 31-yard run to put the Warriors ahead 20-14. Even the fact that Maine-Endwell fumbled the ensuing kickoff was conventional enough. Then Bradee Holtslag threw to the end zone, seemingly too far for mortals – but Mike Bunal dove full-out, caught it with one hand, brought it under control and stayed inbounds at the back of the end zone. Touchdown.
Everything after that was academic as Whitesboro pulled away, and attention turned out west, where a crown was relinquished. Sweet Home, the two-time state champs, winners of 36 in a row, finally gave in to Rochester Aquinas, who used blinding speed and aggression to wipe out the Panthers 36-6 and get revenge for 2008 and ’09.
Put simply, the “Little” Irish (who really should be in Class AA, and that’s a sore spot in Rochester high school circles) provide as severe a challenge for Whitesboro as Sweet Home did 12 months ago. The Warriors have to keep the ball for long periods of time and avoid giving up big plays to Aquinas to have a chance. Burnt Hills and Harrison meet for the other finals spot.
General Brown got to the state semis once before – in 2003. But the Lions’ trip might be sweeter now, given that it had to gain some revenge on Chenango Forks in a regional final sequel to 2009, when the Blue Devils blanked the Lions 22-0.
At one point early in the fourth quarter of the rematch, GB led 21-6, but Forks scored and got a two-point conversion to make it 21-14, then made a frantic drive in the closing minutes. When second-string QB Zach Jeske hit Derek Foster on a 21-yard scoring pass with 15.1 seconds left, Forks was within one, and had to make a decision. Tie, or win?
Really, it wasn’t a choice. Without a reliable kicker, the Blue Devils had to go for two. Jimmy Miller ran it – and GB’s defense got to him before he could turn toward the goal line, the biggest defensive stop in Lions football history.
So the Lions of Dexter now prepared for Saturday’s high noon encounter with Fredonia, the lone Section VI team to get this far. It’s been a magical ride for the Hillbillies, who dethroned two-time state champion Southwestern with a last-second TD in the sectional finals, then fended off Letchworth in the regionals. Someone’s run of destiny will continue into a Nov. 28 final against Bronxville or Saranac Lake.
Alas, two other sectional champion got beat at ESM. In the case of Onondaga, it never got going against Walton in Class D, the Tigers managing just 156 yards and turning the ball over four times in a 20-0 defeat. At least OCS played superb defense, keeping the game 6-0 until Walton managed a pair of TD’s in the last 90 seconds to make for a deceptive margin. The Warriors get Caledonia-Mumford in the state semis, with Tuckahoe and Moriah on the other side.
Cazenovia ran into Chenango Valley at exactly the wrong time in the Class B regional. Using long drives that took up most of the first half, CV went ahead 14-0 and 20-7, then put together another great long march (85 yards in seven-plus minutes) that consumed most of the fourth quarter and led to 27-14 victory. Caz’s pass defense was its ultimate downfall as Kevin Cox kept throwing at them – and kept getting big gains.
Now Chenango Valley will try and beat Hornell, the only defending state champion still alive. Croton-Harmon and Schalmont play the other semifinal. And all of them still hope that, on Thanksgiving weekend, they’ll be on the Carrier Dome turf accepting a shiny gold plaque.