“From our town to D town, keeping the football legacy alive” was printed on the back of an Ithaca T-shirt, and that phrase was a good fit for both sides of the stands in the Division 6 state final, as virtually the entire populations of Ithaca (2,862) and Clinton (2,298) journeyed to Ford Field.
“I don’t know how many live there, but not a lot are there now — they’re all here,” said Sarah Turner of Clinton, who was in the front row sporting a red No. 6 jersey. The senior had the responsibility of holding up a whiteboard signaling the student section what cheer to do next.
All but one of Clinton’s playoff games were on the road, but that was hardly an issue, as the Redskins often outdrew opponents hosting the games.
“We have pep rallies, everybody meets up before every game. We have fan buses to every playoff game,” Turner said. “Our fans are the best; we love our team so much, we’re so proud of them.”
On the opposite side of Ford Field, Ithaca senior Andrew Mills was making his sixth trip in a row to root on the Yellowjackets in the title game. He wore a white T-shirt, with half of his face painted white; the other half had blue and yellow stripes.
“We’re pumped up because we’re here to win,” he said. “I’ve been here every year. There’s a whole new crew every year and its fun seeing them play. I love it. We’ve done a white-out every year and its just tradition. We’re keeping it going.”
In the end, Ithaca had more to cheer about as the Yellowjackets won their fifth crown in six years, 27-20.
■ Better late than never: It appeared that Ithaca captain Spence DeMull would spend his senior season on the sidelines after he hurt his meniscus in summer 7-on-7 play. But because Ithaca makes long playoff runs, he eventually got back into the lineup fully healed, and ended up being one of the Yellowjackets’ big contributors with 350 receiving yards down the stretch.
DeMull had an 18-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, but coach Terry Hessbrook said his earlier 39-yard reception into the red zone was the spark that got Ithaca’s offense going.
“I ran a curl route, and right when I turned around the ball was right there,” DeMull said. “I didn’t really see the defender miss, but when I turned, I saw a lot of open green field in front of me. … I tried to make a run for the end zone, but they caught me from behind.”
■ Speed trap: Clinton rushed for over 4,000 yards this season and 60 touchdowns, including a 56-yard sprint by Matt Sexton which gave the Redskins a 13-0 lead in the third quarter. Of course, it also helps when you’ve got speed to burn.
Clinton’s track team, which is also coached by Scott McNitt, had the state champion 4×100 meter relay team last spring, consisting of running backs Sexton and Noah Poore, along with graduated seniors Zach Johnston and Tyler Underwood. Sexton, Poore, Underwood and lineman Kenny DeShano were also runners-up in the 4×200 relay.