Tioga Central will look to join select company Friday in a Section 4 Class D football title game against Unatego scheduled for 5 p.m. kickoff at Union-Endicott’s Ty Cobb Stadium.
The Tigers were Section 4 champions in 2011, ’12 and ’13, and advanced to the semifinal round of state playoffs each year. A victory Friday would make Tioga the third program to log four consecutive sectional football titles. Chenango Forks strung seven from 2001-07, and Maine-Endwell will seek a fifth in succession Saturday against Norwich.
Third-ranked Tioga (8-1) has won seven in a row since falling by 21-7 in Week 2 at Chenango Forks. Fifth-ranked Unatego (8-1) won its first five of the season, absorbed an 18-point, home-field loss to Walton, and brings a three-game win streak into the final.
The winner will oppose either fourth-ranked Sandy Creek (8-1) or seventh-ranked Dolgeville (8-1), 5 p.m. Nov. 14 at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
Tioga and Unatego met in last season’s Class D title game, with Tioga rushing for 622 yards in an 80-53 win. Jesse Manuel rushed for 217 yards and Brad Jump 80 more in a first half that concluded with the Tigers on top by 59-12. Neither of those two carried in the second half, when Spartans quarterback Josh Feyerabend completed 12 of 14 passes for 356 of his 581-yard total.
The Tigers passed through the semifinal round with a 61-23 rout of Moravia, with Manuel rushing for 177 of his team’s 495 yards. Unatego took a two-TD first-quarter lead on the way to a 41-27 victory over Seton Catholic Central. In that contest, the Saints rushed for 428 yards. In a 48-0 loss at Tioga on Sept. 26, the Saints’ 20 rushes went for a 52-yard total.
Sizing up his team’s overall form heading into the final, Jump said: “We’re almost there. I think we were a little off (last weekend) because Josh Kithcart was out, but when we get him back I think we’ll be firing on all cylinders and right back where we want to be.”
Kithcart, a 234-pound senior and two-way end, sat out the semifinal with a shoulder ailment. Coach Nick Aiello expects to have Kithcart available Friday, at least on the offensive side.
Asked what stands out about Tioga, running back/linebacker Nate Wilsey of Unatego said: “Their line. They don’t make mistakes. Their line is fantastic. Great coaching, great backs— they’re just a great overall team.”
The Tigers won the most recent two title games by 27- and 44-point margins, respectively, after pulling out a one-pointer against Walton in 2011.
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