Ron Moshier - Sports

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ron Moshier: Smash-mouths win championships

So defense wins championships, huh?

 

That may be only half right. The other half of that equation – not stopping the run, but running the football – is just as important. Just ask Section III high school football champions Henninger (AA), New Hartford (A), Westmoreland (C) and Dolgeville (D).

 

In last weekend’s state quarterfinal matchups between Section III and Section IV, those four Central New Yorkers all lost to Southern Tier teams committed – and oh, so good at – running the football. Call it smash-mouth. Call it old school. Call it boring and mundane. Call it what you will. No matter what you call it, Section IV champions Binghamton (AA), Corning West (A), Elmira Notre Dame (C) and Walton (D) were very, very good at it, next to unstoppable. Not coincidentally, those four are all headed to the state semifinals in Rochester.

 

Spread formation, West Coast-type, run-but-more-gun offenses may be trendy, and no doubt fun to play and even more fun to watch, but here’s how those four Section IV teams prevailed last weekend (and why they’re playing on):

 

In Class AA, Binghamton ran for 418 of its 492 yards and beat Henninger 28-20.

 

In Class A, Corning West was 1-for-2 passing and gained 431 of its 456 yards on the ground in a 28-26 win over New Hartford.

 

In Class C, Elmira Notre Dame rushed for 417 of its 430 yards in a 48-21 win over Westmoreland.

 

In Class D, defending state champion Walton (0-for-4 passing, but so what) ran for 395 yards in a 44-21 win over Dolgeville.

 

Section III’s only winner, Class B champion Oneida, never trailed en route to a 27-21 victory over Waverly. Even then, Waverly did all of its damage on the ground, finishing with 324 total yards and going 0-for-2 through the air. The Wolverines’ defense simply had no answer for quarterback Ryan Kramer.

 

Running the football may seem a bit too old school for this day and age. It’s certainly not as glamorous. But when it comes to winning championships? Running the football and stopping the run still appears to be the best way to go. Those four quarterfinal winners from Section IV were successful doing both.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ron Moshier: Preview of state football quarterfinals

DOLGEVILLE (10-0) vs. WaLTON (10-0)

 

Who: Section III champion Dolgeville (10-0) is ranked No. 3 in the state; Section IV champion Walton (10-0) is No. 1, and the defending state champions have won 23 straight games.

 

What: Class D state quarterfinal. Where: Cicero-North Syracuse High School.

 

When: Friday, 5 p.m. Tickets: $7. Radio: WBGK FM-99.7.

 

Past: Dolgeville has a 7-4 record (all four losses are to the eventual champion) in five previous appearances in the state tournament. The Blue Devils won the Class D title in 2000 and are 4-1 in quarterfinal games against Section IV champs, including a 16-12, Class C loss to state champ Walton in 1994 that ended Dolgeville’s 41-game winning streak. Walton is also in the state playoffs for the sixth time. The Warriors are 9-3 in state tournament games and are 4-1 against Section III, including last year’s 52-14 win over Onondaga. The Warriors then won 42-0 and 64-6 to claim their second state title.

 

Present: Dolgeville captured its 17th league title in 18 years and claimed a 15th Section III championship with a 21-14 victory over Watertown IHC. Walton has outscored teams 464-34 this season. The Warriors have won a record 13 Section IV titles, including 11 in Class C and two in Class D.

 

Future: Winner plays No. 2 Maple Grove (10-0) or No. 5 Dundee (10-0) in the state semifinals at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, at Paetec Stadium in Rochester.

 

NEW HARTFORD (8-2) VS. CORNING WEST (9-1)

 

Who: Section III champion New Hartford (8-2) is ranked No. 14 in the state; Section IV champ Corning West (9-1) is No. 20.

 

What: Class A state quarterfinal. When: Friday, 8 p.m.

 

Where: Cicero-North Syracuse High School.

 

Tickets: $7. Radio: WIBX AM-950.

 

Past: This is New Hartford’s first state playoff appearance. Corning West made it this far in 1999, but lost to Section III champ Chittenango 24-14.

 

Present: New Hartford started 1-2, losing at Carthage 8-7 and at Whitesboro, 22-21 in overtime. The Spartans have won seven straight, earning their first Section III title since 1993 with a 42-35 win over Camden. Corning West avenged a 28-6 early-season loss to Maine-Endwell with a 12-8 victory that gave the Vikings their first section title since 1999.

 

Future: Winner plays state-ranked No. 1 Rochester Aquinas (10-0) or No. 4 Sweet Home (10-0) in a semifinal game at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, at Paetec Stadium in Rochester.

 

elmira notre dame (10-0) VS. WESTMORELAND (10-0)

 

Who: Section III champion Westmoreland is ranked No. 3 in the state; Section IV champ Elmira Notre Dame is No. 13.

 

What: Class C state quarterfinal. Where: Cicero-North Syracuse High School.

 

When: Saturday, noon. Tickets: $7.

 

Past: Two years ago at the same C-NS field, Westmoreland’s only other trip to the state playoffs began with a most memorable, 35-34 quarterfinal win over defending champion Sidney. The Bulldogs fell behind 20-0, rallied to take a 27-20 lead, then fell behind again before pulling out the victory on Reuben Santiago’s touchdown pass to Teddy Fedor and game-winning two-point conversion toss to Matt Ferdinand with 22 seconds left. Westmoreland then lost to Falconer 20-6 in the semis. Notre Dame is making its first state playoff appearance since ‘98, when the Crusaders beat Lowville 40-3 and LeRoy 16-15, then lost to Edgemont 28-27 in overtime in the Class C final. Cazenovia beat Notre Dame 21-14 in the 1996 quarterfinals.

 

Present: In regular-season finale, Westmoreland claimed Class C South title with a 23-20 win over previously unbeaten and state-ranked No. 3 Cazenovia, then rolled to playoff wins over Cato-Meridian (42-6) and Herkimer (37-0) before ending defending state champ Bishop Ludden’s 21-game winning streak with last week’s 24-19 victory. Elmira Notre Dame lost to Section IV’s Class B champ Waverly (20-8) and Class D runner-up Gorton (34-16) during the regular season, but claimed its first section title since 1998 with last week’s 14-6 win over Greene.

 

Future: Winner plays state-ranked No. 1 LeRoy (10-0) or No. 2 Jamestown Southwestern (10-0) in state semifinals at noon Saturday, Nov. 22, at Paetec Stadium in Rochester.

 

ONEIDA (9-1) vs. Waverly (7-3)

 

Who: Section III champion Oneida (9-1) is ranked No. 7 in the state; Section IV champ Waverly (7-3) is No. 15.

 

What: Class B state quarterfinal. Where: Cicero-North Syracuse High School.

 

When: Saturday, 6 p.m. Tickets: $7. Radio: WMCR FM-106.3.

 

Past: Both Oneida and Waverly have qualified for the state playoffs for the first time.

 

Present: Oneida started 6-0 and was ranked No. 2 in state before a 14-9 nonleague loss to Section IV Norwich, but the Indians rolled to playoff wins over Solvay (46-0), Chittenango (38-12) and Westhill (20-0) to claim their first-ever Section III title. Waverly started the season with losses to Chenango Forks (7-0) and Norwich (20-12). The Wolverines had never won a Section IV playoff game until avenging that season-opening loss to perennial powerhouse Chenango Forks with a 14-13 victory. Last week, they claimed their first section title with a 36-22 win over Windsor.

 

Future: Winner plays state-ranked No. 2 Lackawanna (10-0) or No. 6 Bath (9-1) in a state semifinal at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, at Paetec Stadium in Rochester.

 

 

 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ron Moshier: Football weekend to remember

Does it get any better than Section III’s football finals? Not this year’s games. No way.

 

New Hartford and Camden played a Class A tennis match of epic proportion, with the Spartans jumping on top 14-0 and the two serving and volleying back and forth the rest of the night. New Hartford was the last one standing, winning a wild one, 42-35. Crazy as it sounds, lost in the razzle and the dazzle was the Spartans’ defense delivering when it had to, keeping Camden quarterback D.J. Forbragd & Co. under wraps just enough to claim a section title for the first time since 1993.

 

Then it was Dolgeville’s Blue Devils doing it again, some how snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and finding a way to win a 15th title by rallying for a 21-14 victory over Watertown’s Immaculate Heart Central in the Class D nightcap. Hats off to head coach Chris Connolly and his staff for their first Section III championship since taking over for Dolgeville legend Jerry Walczak. If there was a monkey on Connolly’s back, it’s long gone now.

 

And Saturday’s Class C championship was something special, too – extra special for Westmoreland senior receiver, defensive back, and kicker T.J. Losowski, who caught three touchdown passes and scored all 24 points as the Bulldogs ended defending state champion Bishop Ludden’s 21-game winning streak with a 24-19 victory.

 

Now, it’s off to Cicero-North Syracuse High School, back to the wild outdoors and the state quarterfinals. Dolgeville (10-0) meets defending state champion Walton (10-0) in a showdown made in pigskin heaven at 5 p.m. Friday, followed by New Hartford (8-2) and Corning West (9-1) in the Class A game at 8. On Saturday, Westmoreland (10-0) plays Elmira Notre Dame (8-2) at noon and Oneida (9-1) meets Waverly (7-3) at 6 p.m.

 

This weekend’s winners head to Rochester for the state semifinals. The guess here is that at least one of those four local teams will be moving on. A New Hartford win would most likely mean the Spartans would be facing defending state champion Rochester Aquinas in the semifinals. Wouldn’t that be something?