It’ll be first-timers against seasoned hands in Friday’s Class A state football semifinal, 8 p.m. at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
South Park, first-time Section 6 champion from Buffalo, will bring a 10-1 record into the game. Opposing will be Maine-Endwell, with a New York-record 62-game win streak and in search of a fifth successive state championship.
One or the other will advance to the final, 3 p.m. Nov. 27 in the Carrier Dome against Our Lady of Lourdes (Poughkeepsie) or Amsterdam.
“I think it’s a huge advantage, but at the same time we can’t look too much into that. We were there, too, we have to make sure that we understand that,” said Spartans coach Matt Gallagher.
“We know that there isn’t going to be a game that’s too big for our guys as far as playing in a state semifinal, we’ve had that experience. But at the same time, just because it’s their first time doesn’t mean that they’re not going to come ready to go.”
South Park won the program’s first state playoff game, 20-7 over Brockport in a quarterfinal last weekend at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester.
The Sparks held a 14-0 lead just over nine minutes into play when David Thomas returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown. They made it a three-TD advantage when quarterback Tyree Brown and Thomas teamed for a 64-yard scoring pass.
Thomas (5-11, 185 pounds) wound up with 286 all-purpose yards, 131 coming on three receptions. Brown rushed for 126 and passed for 141, though missing on 15 of 21 throws.
“The quarterback and No. 1 (Thomas) can definitely get up the field, as can another couple guys, too,” Gallagher said. “We just have to do our best to contain them, don’t give up any big ones.
“They are very athletic, they can put points on the board quickly and we have to make sure that we don’t allow that to happen. If we can make them take some time to score, then that’s going to be to our advantage.”
In the quarterfinal, linebacker Nick Schaefer (5-10, 225) led South Park’s defense with eight solo tackles and an interception.
Maine-Endwell scores 43.8 points per game, and has not been held under 28 since a 27-19 victory over Schalmont in last season’s Class B state final. Two of the last three and three of the last five M-E opponents have scored seven or fewer points.