FOOTBALL: FORKS AND WINDSOR TOP CANDIDATES TO ADVANCE THIS WEEKEND
By ROB CENTORANI
Broome County East Sports Report
Four of the five Broome County East football teams will play elimination games this weekend in Section 4's semi-final round.
Two, Chenango Forks and Windsor, will be at home for sectional semifinals, and the other two, Binghamton and Susquehanna Valley, will play on the road.
Here's a look at each game and, for the first time in world history, I'll offer predictions.
Class C semifinal -- Watkins Glen/Odessa-Montour at Chenango Forks, 7 p.m. Friday: The Blue Devils earned a 40-8 victory over the Storm in Week 3. Forks (5-3) led, 21-0 at halftime and scored the game's first 40 points.
"That was a long time ago," Forks coach Dave Hogan said. "We like to think we've gotten better, but they're certainly not the same team either. You never want the kids overconfident or to take a team lightly, because we've seen what happens. There have been lots of times when the team that wins in the regular season loses in the playoffs."
WG/O-M has some playmakers and they were on display in last Friday's 38-14 victory at Susquehanna Valley. The Storm (6-3) had three touchdown plays of 65 yards or longer. Brad Gillis had a 65-yard touchdown run, Alexander Holmes caught an 83-yard scoring pass from Gavin Lohmeyer and Brady Cannon returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown.
"They definitely have some good skill kids," Hogan said. "I think they have some big kids up front, too, but I think their skill kids were the people who stuck out to us the last time.
"I think they're tough and they play hard. They're a playoff team, none of them are easy anymore. We saw the same thing, we definitely noticed some speed there."
In attempting to corral the Storm's double-wing attack, playing disciplined defense will be important. Just because a play appears to be headed in one direction doesn't necessarily mean it's going that way. Forks will see plenty of counters and double-handoffs Friday.
"Especially as a linebacker, you just to get your reads and you have to find the ball and not over pursue," said linebacker Walker Paske. "You have to get to the right spots and everybody has to do their jobs. You can't be going out on your own. We have to be a unit, a team."
Offensively, you'll know things are going well for Forks if it isn't throwing the ball. As long as Chris Boyle, Lucas Bartlow and Tyler Rifenbury are gaining chain-moving chunks of yards, the Blue Devils will be content.
Winner gets: The winner of Friday's other semifinal pitting SV at Waverly in the Class C final.
Prediction: it'll be closer than the first meeting, not sweating out fourth quarter possessions close, but work will remain for the Blue Devils in the second half. Forks, 34-17.
Class C semifinal -- Susquehanna Valley at Waverly, 7 p.m. Friday: The Wolverines (8-1) had 35 points on the scoreboard before the Sabers answered in the teams' first meeting, a 42-14 Waverly victory Oct. 14.
Standout quarterback Joey Tomasso went 13-for-15 for 122 yards and four touchdowns in the first half of that game. Touchdown passes of 6 and 39 yards to Jake VanHouten had Waverly ahead, 14-0, after one quarter.
Xavier Watson caught two more scoring passes from Tomasso in the second quarter to make it 28-0.
"We have to find a solution to their offense," SV coach Mike Ford said. "They're very good and they make a lot of pre-snap reads and adjustments. Not only is (Tomasso) a good thrower, but he's a very elusive and tough runner. You can never seem to get a good hit on him."
After falling behind, 35-0, SV (4-4) engineered a 94-yard scoring drive late in the first half, capped by a Luke Kariam-to-Ian Harder touchdown pass of 5 yards.
Kariam suffered a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago in a win over Dryden. Connor Vanderlinde started at quarterback last week for the Sabers. He completed seven passes in the second half for 124 yards and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the Sabers' 38-14 loss to Watkins Glen/Odessa-Montour.
"They're very well coached and they have some good players," Ford said of Waverly. "They're not just passing, they're multi-faceted. When he starts running, he can be just as dangerous. If we take away the pass, he'll make you pay with the run. We have a lot to prep for."
Waverly is seeking its second straight Class C title.
Winner gets: The winner of Friday's other semifinal pitting WG/O-M at Chenango Forks in the Class C final.
Prediction: Maybe the Sabers can keep this one close for a quarter or so, but it's hard to see them shutting down Waverly's offense. Wolverines, 42-6.
Class B semifinal -- Owego at Windsor, 7 p.m. Friday: Expect more scoring this time around.
When the teams played in Week 7, the Black Knights (7-2) took a 12-point lead into halftime and hung on for a 12-7 victory at Owego (4-4).
Many times, when teams play a low-scoring game the first time, the coaching staffs focus on the offenses and the second game often features more scoring.
It won't be a shootout, but the winner might need 25 points to win this one.
The first time around, Windsor standout Mason McCombs rushed for a 157 yards and a touchdown, and played a big role in holding Owego to 140 total yards from his linebacker spot. One of the most physical players in Section 4, McCombs also possesses one of the best stiff arms in the area. If you're going to tackle him, you have to get past his arms.
Conlan Taylor scored on a 5-yard run with 9:45 left in the fourth quarter and Adam Arhbal's PAT made it 12-7, but Owego never threatened thereafter.
Winner gets: Maine-Endwell and Norwich will play in the other B semifinal at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Prediction: This could go either way. I like Windsor in a close one, 28-21.
Class AA semifinal: Binghamton at Elmira, 10 a.m. Saturday: The teams met in Week 7 and the Express won, 59-8.
The Patriots (1-8) have some threats offensively, most notably running back KJ Summers and receiver Tayshaun Brooks. However, defensively, Binghamton has allowed nearly 43 points per game.
Elmira (3-5) led, 8-6, after one quarter in the first meeting before scoring 45 consecutive points, including four touchdowns in the second quarter. Johnnie Garcia and Kayon Flint each scored two touchdowns during Elmira's scoring spree.
Winner gets: Corning in the Class AA the following weekend.
Prediction: It'll be closer than the first meeting, but Elmira advances. Express, 44-14.
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