Again the Section III football championships will get decided at the Carrier Dome. It starts Friday night with Class D, Onondaga against Herkimer after the Tigers shut out upstart Cato-Meridian and the Magicians, who have won sectional Class C titles in the past, outscoring Beaver River in the other semifinal. Then there’s Class A, without three-time champion Whitesboro, who was stunned in the semifinals by Carthage, 31-19. Now the Comets, trying to get a sectional title before head coach Sam Milich retires, will try to pull off another shocker against their north country neighbors from Indian River, who have cruised through two playoff rounds so far, including a 45-14 semifinal romp over Auburn.
The four Section III football title games on Saturday at the Carrier Dome start bright and early at 9 a.m. with the eight-man football final as undefeated Weedsport, who scored 76 points against South Lewis in the semifinals, faces APW, who gave defending champion Bishop Grimes its first-ever loss in the eight-man format 28-18 in the semifinals. Then it’s the Class C final, a potential classic where Holland Patent, who hasn’t played in this game since 1991 and hasn’t won a sectional title since 1989, meets General Brown, far more accustomed to this stage. In the semifinals, the Golden Knights outscored Lowville 49-28, while the Lions overwhelmed Utica-Notre Dame 57-28 to return to the Dome.
Saturday’s Class B football sectional final at the Dome is a potential epic. Unbeaten, state no. 2-ranked Skaneateles, after handling VVS 47-13 in the semifinals, meets its fellow Lakers from Cazenovia, who reached its seventh straight final by shutting out Oneida 40-0, and now that Caz defense tests Pat Hackler and company. Finally, it’s the Class AA final where C-NS, undefeated and trying to defend its sectional title, puts up its 9-0 record against West Genesee, in its first final since 2011. The Northstars scored 40 first-half points to bury F-M in the semifinals as the Wildcats rallied past Liverpool 17-14. C-NS won 27-10 when they met West Genesee late in September, but what happens this time?
In the girls soccer sectional Class AA final, F-M pulled off its first title in 22 years, rallying with two late goals to oust defending state champion Baldwinsville 3-2 after holding off West Genesee 2-1 in the semifinals. F-M faces Bethlehem in the AA regional final Saturday at Fulton with a state final four berth at stake, right before undefeated J-D faces Averill Park in Class A, the Red Rams having claimed a 10th straight sectional title when it beat Whitesboro 3-1 in the finals. In Class B, Holland Patent won its first-ever sectional title by surviving an OT epic and penalty kicks with Clinton in the championship game, and then handling Potsdam 4-0 in the regional round before a regional final Saturday against Holy Names, from Section II.
Another big surprise took place in the Class D girls soccer sectional final, where Poland, unbeaten and atop the state rankings all season, was pushed into overtime by Cincinnatus, and in penalty kicks the Lions outlasted the Tornadoes. Now Cincinnatus will go into the regional playoffs on Saturday, joined by Little Falls, the Class C sectional champions. In last weekend’s sectional final the Mounties repeated by shutting out top seed Watertown IHC 3-0, with Nicole Failing and Gabby Systra teaming up for all three scoring plays. Little Falls now returns to the state tournament, needing to beat Section IV’s Unatego to advance to the Nov. 10-11 state final four, which again will take place in the Cortland-Homer area.
In the boys soccer sectional Class AA final, Baldwinsville used two goals in the last five minutes of regulation to turn back C-NS 2-0 and earn its first sectional title since 2013. The Bees will get to be close to home, at Liverpool, for its AA regional final Saturday against Section II’s Albany CBA. In Class A, Fulton ended a decade-long sectional title drought by surprising Syracuse CBA 3-2 after knocking off the no. 2 seed (PSLA Fowler) and no. 3 seed (New Hartford) in earlier rounds. The Red Raiders would start regional tournament play on Halloween night against Franklin Academy, looking to advance to a regional final against Section II’s Queensbury with a state final four berth at Middletown on the line.
Westhill won its third straight boys soccer sectional Class B title, using a pair of corner kicks to again beat Cazenovia in the finals, 2-0. The Warriors are going to the Wright National Soccer Campus for a virtual road game in the regional final against Section IV’s Oneonta. South Lewis was victorious in the Class C sectional final by using Matt Skopura’s overtime goal to defeat Cooperstown 1-0, the Falcons advancing to a regional final at Oneonta against perennial Section IV power Lansing. Finally, in Class D Cincinnatus competed a girls-boys sweep of the sectional finals with three goals in a brief second-half span to beat Poland 3-2 after toppling Fabius-Pompey 3-1 in the semifinals. The Lions play Marathon in the regional finals.
Four Section III field hockey sectional champions were crowned Sunday. C-NS regained the Class A crown by toppling two-time defending champion Baldwinsville 3-1, the Northstars advancing to a regional final against Maine-Endwell. Holland Patent used a first-half scoring surge to beat ESM 3-1 for the Class B sectional title and will be favored against Afton in the regional final. Camden dominated Class C, beating Canastota and Clinton 6-0 in consecutive sectional games, while in Class D Sauquoit Valley dethroned Weedsport 1-0 on Makenzie Martin’s second-half goal. Camden and Sauquoit meet this week to see who tries to challenge four-time state champ Whitney Point in the regional final at C-NS’s Bragman Stadium.
It is, on Saturday, the big day for the Section III championships in cross country at VVS. The main event – whether F-M’s long reign in girls Class A is interrupted by Liverpool after the top two state-ranked teams split two results so far, the Hornets winning in the regular season, the Warriors the SCAC Metro meet. There’s also sectional girls volleyball finals this weekend, where on Friday in Class D Living Word Academy will face Bishop Grimes, in Class C it’s Skaneateles against Hannibal. In Class B Saturday, unbeaten Westhill is challenged by Solvay as, in Class A, J-D and Oswego meet again, the Buccaners having beat the Red Rams in five sets in the 2017 final. Finally, in Class AA Baldwinsville is favored to win it again.
Three Section III girls swimming championships are lined up for this weekend as, in Class A at Nottingham, F-M is an overwhelming team favorite following an undefeated regular season, in Class B (also at Nottingham) J-D leads the field and the Class C teams gather at Skaneateles, where CBA is the front-runner. In last weekend’s state girls tennis tournament in Latham, West Genesee’s Mikayla Mannara and Katie Viau made it all the way to the quarterfinals, the furthest any of the Section III competitors could go, before a defeat to Ursuline’s Laura Campos and Vanessa Ciano in straight sets. Campos and Ciano went on to their second consecutive state title as Hewlett’s Rachel Arbitman was the singles state champion.