A fifth Section 4 football championship in a six-season span will be Chenango Forks’ aim come noon Saturday when Newark Valley provides the opposition in the Class C final at Union-Endicott’s Ty Cobb Stadium.
The top-ranked Blue Devils (8-1), reigning state champion and two-time defending sectional champ, have limited seven of nine opponents to seven or fewer points. Among foes failing to put up a second TD was Newark Valley, 33-7 victim Oct. 4 on Forks’ turf.
Thirteenth-ranked Newark Valley (7-2) is coming off a 17-14 semifinal win over Lansing, with Connor Coleman’s 29-yard field goal the difference. Forks was at something less than its ordinarily efficient self in a 13-6 semifinal win over Waverly.
“We’ve definitely got to be more disciplined and we have to play an all-around football game,” said fullback/linebacker Ryan Bronson of Forks, which was whacked for 96 penalty yards and had two scores called back in the semi.
Saturday’s winner advances to a state quarterfinal, noon Nov. 15 at Cicero-North Syracuse High School. There, the opponent will be either fifth-ranked Herkimer (9-0) or eighth-ranked Utica Notre Dame (8-1).
When Forks and Newark Valley squared off in the regular season, sophomore L.J. Watson rushed for 110 yards and Bronson another 98 for Forks, which led by 20-0 at halftime after limiting the Cardinals to 59 first-half yards.
“We definitely want long memories,” said Newark Valley coach Brian Sherwood. “They came out and put the first two drives in and scored, put one in right at the end of the second quarter so we were down 20-0 at the half. After that we adjusted and the kids settled down we played a pretty good second half.
“So, we have the good and the bad to build off this week.”
“The last time we didn’t come out as strong as we have in the last few games,” NV’s Coleman said of that September encounter with the Devils. “This time when we come out, it’ll definitely be something different.”
Cardinals quarterback Vinnie Darpino, arguably among the most valuable players in Section 4 football, rushed for 152 of his 171 yards in the second half that soggy afternoon at Forks. Last weekend at Binghamton Alumni Stadium, Darpino hit up Lansing for 144 rushing yards and orchestrated an 81-yard drive that resulted in the tying points in the final minute of regulation.
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