(photo by Lisa Liddell)
At least for now, the Cazenovia football team’s habit of picking up Class B East division regular-season titles is still strong, with no sign that it’s letting up anytime soon.
The state Class B no. 6-ranked Lakers locked up yet another top playoff seed Saturday at Buckley-Volo Field by rolling past Central Valley Academy 44-8, again doing most of the damage in the first half, when it raced out to a 37-0 advantage.
That sequence featured points from Cazenovia’s offense, defense and special teams in the second quarter, the Lakers not taking for granted that CVA did not have a win on the board this season.
And the offensive touchdown was something special. Pinned at his own five-yard line despite holding a 21-0 lead, Matt Regan went back, threw deep and found Kevin Stalder, who outraced the Thunder defenders 95 yards to the end zone.
Minutes later, it was CVA deep in its own end, but the result was quite different, Dan Kent recording a safety as part of a five-tackle effort. Trevor O’Herien and Shawn Szlamczynski both matched that five-tackle total, with Joey Riedl setting the pace as he had 10 tackles, four of them solo.
A Thunder punt then turned into more Cazenovia points when Matt McLaughlin returned that kick 55 yards for a TD. Following that, the Lakers scored just once more, on Jake Macheda’s 24-yard run in the third quarter.
Of Cazenovia’s 384 total yards, more than half of them came through the air as Regan completed eight of 12 passes for 226 yards. That included the long strike to Stalder and a 29-yard scoring pass to Will Huftalen in the first quarter. Macheda finished with three touchdowns, two of them in that opening period as he rushed for a team-best 63 yards on seven carries.
A night earlier, Chittenango had an opportunity, hosting Marcellus, to all but lock up a first-round sectional playoff game on that same home turf, even if it meant likely going into Cazenovia’s half of the playoff bracket.
But the Mustangs interrupted those plans, fighting past the Bears 15-10 to avenge a defeat in this similar scenario one year ago by scoring all of its points in the first quarter and then leaning on its defense to protect that early advantage.
Twice in the first quarter, Chittenango allowed Marcellus scoring drives. Robbie Seeley capped one of them with a seven-yard TD run, with Matt Reich adding the two-point conversion, and then Seeley returned a few minutes later to dash 54 yards to the end zone.
Trailing early, the Bears started to crawl back with a drive that led to Keith Spurgeon’s 31-yard field goal. A second-quarter march went to the Mustangs’ one, from where quarterback Brian Lamaitis plunged into the end zone, Spurgeon tacking on the extra point.
From there, it was all about the defenses. Chittenango not only contained Seeley, who gained little following his pair of early scores, but shut down the Marcellus passing attack as Nick Patterson Jr. completed just three of 13 passes for 33 yards.
However, with ample time to get the one touchdown it needed to move in front, the Bears were thwarted, too, and Patterson had much to do with it, intercepting Lamaitis to stop one fourth-quarter drive and then making deflections on two passes when Chittenango had a last attempt to win it.
In next Friday’s regular-season finale, the Bears, who have lost three straight since a 3-0 start, host Solvay, with a win guaranteeing them third place in Class B West and avoiding a trip to Cazenovia the following weekend. Those Lakers finish its regular season that same night at Camden.