Next up for Tioga Central: The Rematch II.
For a third consecutive year of Class D state football semifinals, the Tigers will square off against Randolph, a Cattaraugus County squad that comes in top-ranked and as two-time defending state champion. In fact, the Cardinals have captured three state championships over the past five years.
Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester.
A season ago, Randolph dismantled an unbeaten bunch of Tigers, denying Section 4’s champions a first down until the second half of a 35-6 rout.
In 2012, Randolph held on for a 7-6 win after Tioga was unsuccessful on a two-point conversion attempt midway into the fourth quarter.
As was the case last November, it’ll be No. 1 against No. 2, this time both in on 10-1 records.
“We’re really motivated since last year, it was a big goose egg,” said Tioga fullback/linebacker Brad Jump, referring to his team’s zero points scored until a mop-up TD. “We’re ready to get back there to try to beat them.”
As for preparations? “Like we always do, just push it a little bit more, keep pushing,” he said.
Tigers coach Nick Aiello is a native of Allegany, 45 or so minutes from Randolph, and recalls suiting up for a team that defeated the Cardinals back in the day. He is highly familiar with what Tioga is about to oppose.
“It’s a program from top to bottom,” he said. “They’ve got players year-in and year-out, and their defensive and offensive schemes are just tremendous. It’s a numbers game with them, it’s X’s and O’s, and going in we know we have to change some things to match them.”
No doubt with that in mind, the Tigers called upon quarterback Sam Burns to pass the football 14 times and the result was 214 yards worth of quarterfinal production — all before halftime. Both figures are substantially above the Tigers’ norm, and they rolled to a 46-22 win over Dolgeville at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
Jesse Manuel headed a ground game that generated 440 yards last weekend, a figure that does not figure to be approachable against Randolph.
Randolph advanced with a 19-12 win over Red Jacket in the quarterfinal round, running the average score against Class D opposition this season to 38-5. The Cardinals’ lone loss was absorbed on opening weekend from Maple Grove/Chatauqua Lake, 24-12. That’s the team that’ll meet Chenango Forks in Saturday’s Class C semifinal.
Randolph trailed last weekend for the first time since that season-opening loss.
Multi-threat Cardinals quarterback Bryce Morrison, last week’s offensive Player of the Game, will be among chief concerns of Tioga defenders.
As for Randolph’s defense, they’ll get to know Tioga front men Dylan Babcock, Zack Hutchinson, Dylan House, Austin Payne and Caleb Manwaring just fine, with Manuel, Jump and Adam Zwierlein leading the rushing charge. Oh, and there’s that quarterback coming off a school-record passing total.
“I think it’s pretty unique that we’re playing the same team three years in a row,” Aiello said. “We know what Randolph is going to bring, I think that helps a lot, we have a lot of experience against them. They do against us as well. It’s going to be a hard-hitting game and it’s going to come down to the team that executes the best.”
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CLASS D SEMIFINAL
Matchup: Tioga (10-1) vs. Randolph (10-1).
Kickoff: 5 p.m. Friday, Sahlen’s Stadium, Rochester.
Last weekend: Tioga def. Dolgeville, 46-22; Randolph def. Red Jacket, 19-12.
State rankings: Tioga No. 2; Randolph No. 1.
Win streaks: Tioga 9; Randolph 10.
State playoff appearances:Tioga 4; Randolph 7.
Next: Final vs. Cambridge/Chester winner, noon Nov. 29, Carrier Dome.
Etc.: Randolph’s one-TD escape in the quarterfinal round came against a Red Jacket team playing without its top running back because of an injury. … Each team’s lone loss of the season was dealt by its section’s Class C champion, Tioga by Chenango Forks and Randolph by Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake. … Brent Brown, in his second season as Cardinals coach, has a 23-1 record. … Randolph has claimed four state titles from 2005 to the present.