If you’re a Tioga Central football follower, here’s the good news: No team from the eastern side of New York has won a Class D state title since 2010.
The not-so-good news?
Section 7’s Ticonderoga doesn’t appear to be a typical eastern squad.
Tioga and Ticonderago will bring 11-1 records into the state final at the Carrier Dome, which will start at noon Friday. Both are searching for their first state championship.
Tioga coach Nick Aiello said deer population in Tioga County can rest easy Friday afternoon.
“Friday might be the least amount of hunters in the woods in Tioga in quite a long time,” he said. “I’m very happy for the community and I hope we can bring home the hardware for them.”
It would appear this one will be settled on the ground.
“They’re definitely a power-run team and a physical team,” Tioga senior Jesse Manuel said. “It’s going to come down to whoever executes, whoever blocks better and whoever tackles better.”
The Sentinels feature seniors Brody Rocque and Ryan Trudeau in their backfield. Rocque has carried 237 times for 1,310 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Trudeau, a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, has 622 yards on 116 attempts and seven touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback Evan Graney has thrown for 632 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s connected on 39 of 79 attempts.
“They’re really a complete team,” Aiello said. “They just have the pieces to the puzzle.”
Aiello noted Trudeau, Rocque and lineman Chase Dixon as players who stood out on both sides of the ball. Senior middle linebacker Jacob Spaulding leads the team in tackles.
The Sentinels haven’t allowed a point in more than a month, shutting out their last four opponents. That included a 32-0 victory over Section 1’s Tuckahoe in last week’s state semifinal and a 6-0 overtime win against Moriah in the Section 7 final, a victory that avenged a 28-6 setback in Week 3.
Ticonderoga will try to slow a Tigers squad that has averaged nearly 49 points this season. Manuel has carried 280 times for 2,658 yards and 42 touchdowns. Backfield mate Adam Zwierlein’s 1,268 yards have come on 119 carries. Zwierlein, who had a crucial sack that helped seal the Tigers’ 38-36 state semifinal win over Bishop Kearney, has 16 touchdowns.
“I feel like if we execute our plays and play like we can, we’ll be fine,” senior lineman Zach Hutchinson said.
CLASS D STATE FINAL
Matchup: Tioga (11-1) vs. Ticonderoga (11-1).
When: Noon Friday.
State rankings: Tioga No. 1; Ticonderoga No. 2.
Etc.: Ticonderoga’s other appearance in a state final resulted in a 64-6 loss to Walton in 2007. … The Sentinels have shut out five opponents this season, including their last four. … Tioga has won eight straight since a 35-32 loss to Newark Valley in Week 4. … The Tigers have scored 50 points or better seven times this season.