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Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Blue Devils celebrate Title with parade
After the parade, the team and their fans continued the party with a free lunch and autograph sessions at Moe's on Front Street.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Spartans prove anything can happen
This Maine-Endwell team never gave up and was well aware that they could make any comeback possible.
Forks Seniors finish careers on top
Since training camp they had one goal on their mind, State Championship. They've achieved their goal, and for them, it's the best possible way to go out - on top.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
First half deficit requires halftime inspiration
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Two-point conversions from both sides of the ball
The case wasn't so for the Rye Neck Panthers, and the Chenango Forks Blue Devils can celebrate because of it. In the Class C Title Game, Rye Neck scored to pull with 28-27 with 4:02 left to play. The Panthers came out going for two, but the monstrous Blue Devils rush defense held strong and stopped the run in the backfield. And the rest, as they say is history.
For the Spartans, it's back-to-back-to-back State Titles. Chenango Forks takes home top honors in the state for the first time since 2004.
Forks looked to the best for final drive
Special Congratulations for the Spartans
(Video Courtesy: Maine-Endwell School District.)
Monday, December 2, 2013
Three-Peat takes everything M-E has
The first half, was arguably the worst half of football Maine-Endwell had played all season long. Three fumbles by the offense led to four possessions with excellent field position for the Schalmont Sabres, two of which resulted in Schalmont touchdowns. But both sides of the ball were penalty prone, drawing a handful of flags in the first half. Most of them were in the direction of false starts and offsides, including a few crucial encroachment penalties when the Sabres were facing 4th and short.
Schalmont capitalized, calling out quarterback Nick Gallo's name to cap off touchdown drives. The first of those was a one yard run, the second a two yard run. Gallo finished with 80 yards rushing on 27 carries with the two touchdowns. Gallo's performance on the ground was a big reason that the Spartans had to carry a 14-0 lead into the locker room. It was the first time M-E had trailed at the half since the 2011 State Finals against Burnt Hills, a 27-20 M-E victory.
Wide Receiver/Defensive Back Alec Wisniewski said after the game, that the halftime locker room speech was not angry, not animated, but forceful. "Coach G" as head coach Matt Gallagher is called, told his boys that they were in the Dome for a reason, and that they've overcome worse obstacles, and it can happen again. And boy did it.
With Schalmont winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half, the Spartans knew that a stop on the first drive of the game was necessary. But as Quarterback Kyle Gallagher says, "we didn't need it." Wisniewski forced a fumble on the kickoff and M-E took over. Although, they wouldn't score on that drive it definitely was an early sign of life.
The first touchdown for the blue and gold would not come until under the two minute mark of the third quarter. Gallagher dropped back to pass but could not find any open receivers and decided to take off running and found the endzone 17 yards out.
With the ball on their own 4 yard line, the Spartans had their back against the wall. But Darnell Woolfolk found a gaping hole on the line and busted through it for an 88 yard run, being brought down inside the ten by Trevon Perez-Tucker who was out of bounds before the tackle was made. The Spartan bench was animated, wanting a call, but they argued to no avail.
The Sabres then stopped the Spartans on four straight plays and took over on the two. But on the first play of the drive, Gallo was intercepted by Michael Palmer and the Spartans not wasting that possession. The game would be tied, thanks to Trevor Garbleman sneaking into the endzone from one yard out. Garbleman had just three carries for six yards, but that one yard touchdown was crucial.
Fast forward to the last two minutes of the game. M-E facing 4th and very, very long. Forced to punt, the ball is reeled in by Trevon Perez-Tucker. Perez-Tucker used a few spin moves and broke a handful of tackled and broke free for a 58 yard punt return touchdown to make the score 21-14 with less than 1:30 to play.
Cue the heroics. Kyle Gallagher led the M-E offense on one of the most effective and quickest two minute drills in recent memory. With only one timeout, the Spartans drive covered a good portion of the field with huge catches by Wisniewski and Jake Sinicki to quickly get out of bounds and stop the clock. With time winding down, the Spartans ran the ball on first and goal, only to be stopped short. They burned their last timeout, but Wisnieski was banged up on the play. Because of the injury, M-E was not required to use the last time out, affording them one more chance to run the ball. Woolfolk managed to get to the 4 yard line, where the timeout was finally used, bringing up 3rd and Goal with 0:09 left. On a pass play that was designed to go to his brother Adam, Kyle Gallagher noticed his younger sibling was double covered. "As he should be," Kyle added." So, #7 found Sinicki on the slant route into the endzone for the touchdown leaving four seconds on the clock.
The Spartans came out in field goal position. A smart move. Play for the tie, win it in overtime. Schalmont Head Coach Joe Whipple, as coaches do, used a timeout to "ice the kicker." Well, as Matt Gallagher said, "I'm glad he called timeout, he overloaded the right side and I had a feeling they could block us." So, after the timeout, the Spartans came out with Kyle Gallagher under center and going for the win. Gallagher dropped back to pass and found a wide open Woolfolk in the endzone, 22-21.
Two penalties were assessed to the Sabres bench after the play, moving the Spartans to the Schalmont 30. Needless to say, the Sabres started on their own 20 after the touchback. Four seconds left on the clock, needing a miracle, Gallo dumped it out to Perez-Tucker who scrambled around but was brought down no more than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. Kyle Gallagher, fittingly, making the final tackle to complete the historical comeback and securing the three-peat.
After the game, when asked about the decision to go for two, Kyle still amazed that his dad made that choice.
"He always says, when you're the favorite, you go for the tie. If you're the underdog, you go for it and go for the win," Kyle said. "When he said we were going for it I was like, 'what, umm, alright.'"
Gallagher finished 6-11, 100 yds, and 1 TD; adding 41 yards rushing on 10 carries and 1 TD. Woolfolk was named Finals MVP after his 24 carry, 177 yard performance. The only time Woolfolk found the endzone was on the winning 2-pt conversion.
The Spartans win makes it three straight state titles, and 38 victories in a row - the longest active win streak in New York State.
Blue Devils stand tall in State Finals
Despite falling behind early on a 20 yard touchdown pass from the Panthers Nick Pipolo to Matt Garcia, the Blue Devils showed no quit. Having made it to the State Semifinals the year before and losing, this year's team was going to finish what they started.
As he's done all year, Isaiah Zimmer evened the game up on a 1 yard TD play set up by the previous run of LJ Watson. With the game tied, Forks had a chance to take the lead, they did so through the air. JC Sweeney and Andrew Ziegenfus have connected on monster plays all season long, so it's only fitting that they did it one last time in the State Finals. A 30 yard bomb that Ziegenfus had to use all of his 6'4" frame to reel in over the defender and lunge into the endzone, gave the Blue Devils a second quarter 14-7 lead.
But the seven point lead would be short lived. How short? The ensuing kick off, returned 88 yards by Ryan Morningstar. The Panthers set back on the PAT by a penalty and with the added yardage decide to go for two, but fail to convert. So while the lead was cut down, it was still 14-13 Forks.
The Blue Devils though, would extend their lead in no time. Zimmer getting the call again, a 7 yard run for #45 and Forks was back on top 21-13. But with 43 seconds left and the Panthers inside the ten, Pipolo tossed it up to Jakob Calvini who made the circus catch for the touchdown. Trying to even things up, the Panthers go for two and covert. So, we take a 21-21 game into the locker room.
The second half, much quieter in terms of scoring, but twice as thrilling. A back and forth 3rd quarter with no scoring brought us to the edge of your seat final frame. Zimmer earning his MVP award in style, takes the lead on a 7 yard touchdown, 28-21. Zimmer finished with 39 carries, 175 yards, and 3 touchdowns.
But with just over four minutes remaining on the clock, the Panthers strike once again. Jake Sevean with the catch from Pipolo, a 9 yard pass to draw within one. Rye Neck going for the win and going for two, but opting for the run, Forks run defense doing what it's done all year and getting a huge stop on the 2-pt conversion attempt. But there was plenty of football left to play.
In the final ten seconds, Blue Devils with possession, Zimmer finds a hole and takes it 32 yards for the score and the clincher. But wait, an illegal shift calls the touchdown back, Zimmer said afterwards he went from excited to frustrated in a matter of seconds. But, that's part of the game. So with seven seconds left and on 4th down, the Blue Devils turn the ball over on downs. Rye Neck with the clock reading 0:02 go to Pipolo's arm, but he never released the ball. The Blue Devils all over him in the backfield getting a sack to secure the first State Title in nine years.
For Head Coach Dave Hogan, it was all smiles as he expressed how proud he is of this team, never giving up and working hard all year long. When asked how it feels for him personally, taking home his first state title as a head coach (he was an assistant in '03 and '04), he says "Wow, I haven't really even been able to think about that," and his mouth widens to a ear-to-ear grin.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Spartans, Blue Devils talk experience and emotions before the big game
Meanwhile, the Chenango Forks football program has been to the Dome before. Making appearances in 2001, '02, '03, '04, '05, and '07, taking home titles in '03 and '04. But, none of the players on this year's team have ever played in the Dome on the last day of the season. Despite the inexperience, sometimes the excitement and the nerves can be a good thing.
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