the top 10 list for the September 14 edition…
- At the long-awaited start of another high school football season, Class AA has everyone still chasing C-NS despite the Northstars having graduated several key players, including quarterback Conner Hayes. C-NS simply went out and blanked CBA 22-0 in its season opener, while the challengers start to lineup, the first of them Liverpool, who meet the Northstars this Friday and, in last weekend’s Kickoff Classic took over in the second half to beat F-M 21-7, avenging a loss to the Hornets in 2018. Elsewhere in the opening weekend, Utica Proctor, with high expectations, defeated Whitesboro, while Nottingham got a win over Rome Free Academy in the Dome and Corcoran held off Binghamton. Baldwinsville lost to Jamestown in overtime.
- Class A football now has just six teams, and will go through an eight-game regular season with just four playoff teams. Defending champion Indian River pulled away from Norwich 53-27 in the Kickoff Classic after its north-country rival, Carthage, scored 52 points on traditional Section IV power Maine-Endwell. Meanwhile, Auburn won at Henninger 13-12, Central Square routed Fulton and ESM handled Rochester’s Edison Tech, so there should be some terrific league games later in the season. But other teams like J-D and Fowler have switched to the Developmental League, where the schedule had to be altered again because Oswego, with low participation numbers, canceled its season right before the opener.
- Class B football was guaranteed to be different in 2019 after Skaneateles went back to Class C, but the changes might not end there. Cazenovia, long dominant in B East, got roughed up 33-14 by New Hartford, a rough debut for first-year Lakers coach Kyle Martin. Winning their openers, Oneida, VVS and Chittenango could all get to the top, with the Red Raiders and Bears facing each other this Friday. In B West, three neighborhood teams all had impressive opening-night wins, none better than Westhill turning back Homer 21-13, while Marcellus and Solvay won big, too. These three teams all have a round-robin with each other starting on the last weekend of September, and all could get there sporting 3-0 records.
- Anyone who wondered that the loss of Pat Hackler and so many other talented seniors would bring Skaneateles football back to Earth were discouraged last Friday when the Lakers marched right into Holland Patent and outscored the defending sectional Class C champion Golden Knights 55-36, and what’s more, Hackler’s successor, sophomore James Musso, threw seven touchdown passes, matching Hackler’s school record. That was particularly ominous for other Class C contenders, though Canastota dropped 56 points on normally-powerful General Brown and Lowville routed Jordan-Elbridge 50-8, with Cato-Meridian also off to a fine start after a 31-14 victory over Herkimer.
- As with Class A, Class D football is a bit smaller this season, with just one division, but that will make for some attractive games down the road. And on opening weekend, defending champion Onondaga won a 6-0 slugfest at Thousand Island, the Tigers passing a key early-season road test, while the team most likely to challenge them, Dolgeville, won its own defensive duel with Sauquoit Valley 14-8. Don’t forget, either, than 10 teams are playing eight-man football this fall, starting their seasons on September 21, with Weedsport a heavy favorite. Those Warriors return most of its lineup from the team that won the sectional title a year ago, while the likes of Bishop Grimes and APW could offer some challenges.
- The high school soccer season is underway, too, and on the girls side you have Jamesville-DeWitt trying to maintain an extraordinary streak of 10 consecutive sectional Class A titles while still chasing that long-elusive state championship after falling in the state final in overtime last November. Elsewhere, F-M, who won its first sectional title in 22 years in 2018, has won its first three games and is certain to have Baldwinsville challenge them. The balance of power in Class B switched last fall away from Marcellus and Westhill to the likes of Holland Patent, who won the sectional title, and Lowville. Will it shift back? Little Falls (Class C) and Cincinnatus (Class D) are the other defending sectional champions.
- In boys soccer, there’s a defending state champion in Class B, Westhill, who took serious graduation losses, but still won its first two games leading up to a key early-season test with fellow sectional finalist Cazenovia on Tuesday. Up in Class AA, Baldwinsville comes off a state final four appearance and might get there as it ripped past hot-starting F-M 3-0 Monday for its fourth straight win in 2019. One of those wins was 5-0 over Fulton, who defends the sectional Class A title with serious challenges expected from the likes of CBA and ESM. South Lewis will have to fend off a lot of challengers in Class C, while in Class D everyone will try to dethrone Cincinnatus, who had a boys/girls sectional sweep last fall.
- Cross country got an early start in September, with league meets where Liverpool swept C-NS, among other results. But the first big event was last Saturday’s VVS Invitational, and F-M, with most of its stars back on both the boys and girls side, swept the Varsity 1 division, with C-NS sweeping Varsity 2, West Genesee doing the same in Varsity 3, but Liverpool splitting Varsity 4 with a great boys team from Beaver River. Individually, two girls course records were set, with F-M’s Claire Walters going 18:30.1 at the start of the morning, but two hours later Tully’s Brooke Rauber, twice a state champion, tore to 18:11.6 to break that mark. This weekend there are invitational meets at ESM and New Hartford.
- There’s many other fall sports underway, too, whether it’s girls volleyball, with Westhill defending the state Class B title with a new head coach and Baldwinsville remains close to untouchable in Class AA, or field hockey, where C-NS (Class A), Holland Patent (Class B) and Camden (Class C) are trying to repeat as sectional champions. There’s boys golf, and the large-school teams that play in the fall, F-M having already won the Drumlins Invitational and beaten a string of league foes, including defending sectional champion West Genesee. Boys volleyball teams, Girls tennis teams, girls swim teams and gymnastics teams are all getting into their seasons amid mostly nice fall weather.
- The off-season, as usual, had a host of coaching changes. Girls lacrosse coaches at CBA (Doug Sedgwick) and F-M (Kelly Tormey) stepped aside, with assistant coaches replacing them for 2020. F-M also saw the baseball coach that led them to an unlikely first-ever sectional title, Jason Rutkey, step aside to focus on administrative duties at Clary Middle School. There were also some college decisions made, with Will Amica, hero of West Genesee’s boys basketball state Class AA championship team and entering his senior year with the Wildcats, announcing early this week that he is going to Division I Albany. Also, Cazenovia’s Lindsay Lawson, a standout in volleyball and basketball, is headed to Harvard for hoops.
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