Chenango Forks standout L.J. Watson left a Week 6 game against Newark Valley early in the second half with a hip injury. He didn’t return.
Uncertain of Watson’s status for the following week’s game against Lansing, the Blue Devils worked in Tony Silvanic at quarterback.
Turns out, Forks never played Lansing. Instead, the Blue Devils earned their second forfeit victory in three weeks.
It allowed Watson to heal, but Forks continued to give Silvanic work at quarterback. That work paid off Saturday in a 43-27 victory over visiting Chenango Valley.
Silvanic replaced Watson at quarterback in the second quarter and the Blue Devils scored 22 points in the quarter, including three touchdowns by Watson.
“We definitely knew we had to get him in there and get him some reps when I got hurt (vs. Newark Valley),” Watson said.
Going forward, opponents can expect to see Watson and Silvanic sharing snaps at quarterback.
“We’re not going to give up on either thing,” Forks coach Dave Hogan said. “Today, it seemed it was working better with Tony at quarterback. Certainly, there are pros and cons with both. They’re both going to be playing some quarterback.”
Lansing bows out
Two weeks ago, Lansing forfeited its penultimate regular-season game to state power Chenango Forks because of a rash of injuries. Lansing coach John Winslow called it a “difficult decision” but one that “comes down to a question of safety.”
Winslow and athletics director Adam Heck were put in a similar situation Sunday, less than 24 hours after the Bobcats’ 60-32 loss to Watkins Glen/Odessa-Montour that gave the Seneca Indians the Division V title. Winslow’s team, small in stature and in numbers, was put through the wringer by a physical WG/O-M squad that rushed for 499 yards. Lansing suffered “multiple injuries,” according to Heck.
A team is required by state rule to have 16 eligible players in order to play.
So he and Winslow had to make another difficult decision: Bow out of the upcoming Class C playoffs. Again, Chenango Forks — whose only losses over the past two seasons have come to Class A power Maine-Endwell — was to be the Bobcats’ opponent.
“It comes with great disappointment that Lansing could not compete in the playoffs,” Heck said Sunday night by text message, “but we need to continue to take into account the medical aspect of the game and that was the direction heavily recommended by our coach and athletic trainer.
“It is also unfortunate that under both situations this year, Chenango Forks was negatively impacted,” Heck said. “As an athletic department, there is the highest level of respect for coach (Dave) Hogan and their football program.”
Forks (7-1) had the option of accepting a forfeit and moving directly to the Class C title game, but that would have been its third victory by forfeit this season. Two weeks before the Lansing forfeit, Whitney Point forfeited to the Blue Devils due to low numbers.
Forks has opted to play and will take on Dryden (5-3), which finished third in Division V, in a Class C semifinal at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Union-Endicott’s Ty Cobb Stadium. That game will be followed by the other Class C semi, pitting Newark Valley (7-1) against WG/O-M (7-1).
The winners will meet at noon Nov. 7 at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.
Including the Class C semifinals, 10 sectional semifinals will be contested this weekend, six featuring teams that met during the regular season.
All four scheduled for Friday are teams that have played within the past two weeks: Corning (5-3) at Binghamton (6-2) in a Class AA game; Vestal (4-4) at Johnson City (4-4) in Class A; Union-Endicott (2-6) at Maine-Endwell (8-0) in Class A; and Waverly (6-2) at Owego (6-2) in Class B.
The Patriots beat Corning, 41-34, in Week 7 on a touchdown pass with 33 seconds left.
“We need to let (Corning) know what our mind-set is early,” Binghamton senior lineman Mathias Silberstein said after his team’s 14-7 win over Vestal on Friday. “Come out hard early and punch them in the mouth.”
Also in Week 7, JC beat Vestal, 34-27, and M-E downed U-E, 37-7.
This past Friday, Owego downed Waverly, 13-12.
Saturday’s playoff schedule includes a Class AA matchup sending Horseheads (3-5) to Elmira (8-0) and a Class B tilt between host Chenango Valley (5-3) and Susquehanna Valley (5-3).
In Week 7, Elmira earned a 49-7 win over Horseheads and SV beat CV, 19-16.
“It won’t be any different than last week,” CV coach Jay Hope said following his team’s 43-27 loss at Chenango Forks on Saturday. “I felt they beat us at the fundamentals of blocking and tackling, and we have to get better at that.”
Binghamton Alumni Stadium will host the Class D semifinals Saturday. Walton (7-1) will face Tioga (7-1) at noon and Moravia (5-3) will oppose Deposit/Hancock (8-0) at 3 p.m.
JC sees some positives
Johnson City had a rough Senior Night opponent in undefeated Elmira and its high-octane running attack. JC fell 51-16, and Elmira led, 36-0, during the second quarter.
Doesn’t sound like the best confidence boost going into a Class A semifinal. However, Wildcats coach Fred Deinhardt did find some rays of sunshine in a dreary outcome on Friday night.
“I think, obviously, in the second half we played a lot better than we did in the first half,” Deinhardt said. “We were able to drive the ball a lot better, and our guys started blocking better so that’s definitely a positive. We’ve just go to continue from there.”
JC started the second half with a 10-play drive for a touchdown, and junior tailback Shafeeq Hosea finished with 150 yards on the ground.
The Wildcats will prepare to face Vestal for the second time in three weeks, this time in a playoff game at Wildcats Stadium. The Wildcats beat Vestal, 34-27, in Johnson City on Oct. 16.
“I think both teams will make adjustments based on what they think they can do a better job of than in the first game,” Deinhardt said. “I would expect it to be a close game and a dog fight.”
Vestal coach Tank Anderson also had some thoughts on JC, following the Golden Bears’ 14-7 loss at Binghamton on Friday.
“They rushed for 250 yards against us, so our focus will be on getting some stops,” Anderson said. “They’re a big, strong team.”
Nifty 59th for M-E
Make it 59 consecutive victories for Maine-Endwell, which completed its regular season Friday night by easing past Ithaca, 56-20, at Spartan Stadium.
The Spartans (8-0) scored four first-quarter touchdowns, the first two in short order on passes by Kyle Balmer, and led by 42-0 at halftime. The contest marked the fourth time this season — and second in three outings — that M-E has eclipsed the 50-point mark.
The 56-point yield marked a season high for the Little Red, which has lost 32 games in succession. That is the longest active skid in New York.
Lyon torments Notre Dame again
When Elmira Notre Dame earned a 30-8 victory over Moravia during the regular season, Crusaders coach Mike D’Aloisio credited his team’s defense against senior running back Jared Lyon as playing a key role. Lyon carried 20 times for 69 yards in that game, with a minor injury also slowing him that day.
But Friday night Lyon returned to his old habit of giving the Notre Dame defense nightmares. He carried the ball 43 times for 348 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Blue Devils to a 39-13 victory in a Section 4 Class D quarterfinal. That followed a 347-yard rushing day the week before against Spencer-Van Etten. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Lyon has rushed for nearly 1,800 yards this season.
The final tally for Lyon in four games against Notre Dame over the last two seasons: 110 carries for 802 yards, 13 touchdowns and three victories, including two in sectional quarterfinal games. Last year he ran for 216 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-14 win over Notre Dame during the regular season, then burned the Crusaders for 169 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-6 playoff victory.
Tom Fleischman, Lynn Worthy, Andrew Legare and Kevin Stevens contributed.