Today's News has a story on Southwestern and Maple Grove's trip to the state football finals. Coming Friday is a story on Sweet Home and Saturday I'll have one on Orchard Park.
Here's some links and such that helped our research.
A stat-stuffed preview of all five finals on the bottom of this maxpreps.com story is a must-click.
I think I've linked this before, but the Maple Grove football site is tremendous.
By now the brackets are all but complete, but those helmets sure are cool.
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** The Monroe-Woodbury team site includes a whole lot, from which hotel the team is staying at, to how the fans are expected to conduct themselves, to several news reports about the team, to the full game video of the state semifinal win over New Rochelle.
** The Middletown Record is the home newspaper for Monroe-Woodbury. Here's their sports home page, but their top-notch, hip-lookin' high school home page, entitled Varsity845, is what you want to check out (845 is the long-distance exchange for the Middletown area).
Among a lot of features there are video highlights, including a nice package reviewing of the state semifinal win (it boils down the game-long footage cited above). There's a "M-W Championship Game Center" on the home page with several key links (roster, game story, finals preview, photos, video, even directions to the Carrier Dome).
It also includes "Cheer Cards" that fans can print out. I know newspapers print out cards like that for pro sports, so I suppose it's fine to provide them. It's just a little odd to see the links for cheer cards grouped with links to stories and coverage. Some separation between the coverage and the rah-rah stuff would probably be appropriate.
** To the stories: Read about how Monroe-Woodbury won its semifinal, its big defensive play, a preview of the final and a feature on its coaching staff.
From the coaching feature: "After Monroe-Woodbury's defense got torched by West Genesee's passing game [42-21] in the 2007 state final, [defensive coordinator Bernie] Connolly changed schemes. The Crusaders now use four linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs — adding a guy in the secondary and taking away a linebacker."
From the preview: "We've been to the field," said M-W linebacker James Boyd. "The noise level is very high. There should be less fans than last year, because West Genesee was so close and this team is from Buffalo. So that should be more on our side."
From the game story: "Monroe-Woodbury's first-half defense was tremendous Saturday night, blocking two punts — with the first leading to a touchdown." OP's Cameron Hicks got a piece of three punts against Binghamton, including a crucial block in the third quarter.
** Also definitely worth checking out is the opposing view in the New Rochelle game story at LoHud.com. Definitely read both and watch the final play on the various highlight packages.
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Here's an Albany Times-Union's story about how the Burnt Hills community is rallying around its Spartans, including a restaurant called The Millstone run by Cory Masten.
Key sentences: "Saturday night, all the TV sets at The Millstone will be on Time Warner Sports to watch the game and Masten will be running a special on wings for 12 cents each — representing the Spartans' 12 victories. 'Hopefully, they'll be 13 cents by the time they come back,' Masten said."
The T-U did a feature on Connor Hadcock, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound guard/linebacker. Should be interesting to see what happens when he and 5-11, 225-pound junior running back/linebacker Deshanaro Morris collide.
Here's the T-U's game story on Burnt Hills' come-from-behind, 14-13 win thanks to a game-winning final drive against Nyack.
Key sentence: "Facing potentially the final drive of his career, Layton directed an 11-play drive featuring five passes and six runs. The final run came on an option run for Layton, who took the ball left and fought his way through three defenders for the tying score."
Here's the Saratogian game story and an analysis about its final drive. Key quote from the game story, from Burnt Hills quarterback Paul Layton: “We all have shirts that say ‘Not Satisfied' and that describes our team. Right now, we’re not satisfied.”
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A top-notch high school site from downstate is Varsity Central, part of LoHud.com and the Journal News of Westchester County. Included is a Varsity Kickoff football-only section which includes a ton of info, including:
The game story of Croton-Harmon's 23-14 state semifinal victory over Saranac Lake.
Key facts: The game probably shouldn't have been nearly as close, not with Croton controlling the ball for nearly 32 minutes and rushing for 394 yards on 68 carries. Croton led only 7-6 at the half despite running 44 plays to Saranac Lake's 11.
Great quote: "You should have heard me at halftime. It was 'bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep,' " Croton coach John Catano said.
Croton-Harmon is practicing indoors to prepare for the Carrier Dome. Key sentences: " 'Talking about [the dome] and seeing it are two different things,' Catano said. 'Hopefully they won't be star-struck." Great teams have been psyched out in the past."
Here's a feature on C-H senior Dan Luntz, a big fullback at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds.
Key paragraph: "Luntz spends most games grinding out yards between the tackles, dutiful work that opens running lanes on the perimeter for [quarterback Nick] Mainiero, [speedy backs both named Tyler] Dorien and Keppler. He also protects the back of Mainiero, his best friend since fifth grade, who moves around the pocket as Luntz keeps pass rushers off his tail."
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The Plattsburgh Press Republican did a very accurate take on Maple Grove, so Moriah should know what it is up against.
Key sentence: "It has been boom or bust in football for the Maple Grove Red Dragons."
As for what Maple Grove is up against? It's a very run-heavy attack detailed in this story, which includes 6-foot, 185-pound fullback/linebacker Jim Carlson.
Key sentence: "The 2008 Moriah Vikings have established their identity — the running game — and no one has figured out how to stop it yet."
Key scouting report sentences: "The play action is effective in two-point conversion situations, as well. Teams expect the Vikings to go to their bread and butter with just a couple yards to go, but Moriah sees it as a perfect opportunity to pass. It works almost every time."
Here's how Moriah ran to the finals: a 21-6 win over Tuckahoe in the semifinals.
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I'll have my picks posted here Saturday morning, and we'll have live updates here throughout the day as well as during Sunday's Class AA final.