attitudes of players has team vying for championship Forks rides
team concept to title game
BY KEVIN STEVENS
Press & Sun-Bulletin
November 29, 2002
Twenty-five times over the last
two football seasons, Chenango Forks' players have padded up,
suited up, warmed up and formed their familiar 'U' on the
sideline, the configuration opening toward midfield as the
captains stride out hand-in-hand for the coin toss.
Twenty-four times, Forks has
celebrated victory. More often than not, they've been victories
sewn up with nary a drop of perspiration born of fourth-quarter
Come high noon Sunday, the team will set for kickoff in the
Carrier Dome for a fifth time over the last two postseasons, and
for a second time with Class B state football supremacy at
Forks' Chris Spencer, left, was called on to work as a
running back instead of a quarterback in last Saturday's
28-14 victory over Bath in a Class B semifinal. Forks
coach Kelsey Green credits the Blue Devils'
unselfishness with helping them back to defend their
Class B state title this year.
From a purely
between-the-sidelines perspective, the most noticeable constant
has been defense, the likes of which has been matched by
fewSection 4 programs in back-to-back years in recent memory. On
the other side of the line, points have been generated in large
quantities, the vast majority by virtue of a running game that
has simply overwhelmed opposing defenders and is rooted in
superior line play.
Yet, those within the inner
circle will tell you, that which transpires between the
sidelines on game day is merely a byproduct of the many
intangibles that have contributed to separating Forks' program
from the rest.
"We've talked about this
season since Dec. 2 of last year," said Juan Mendoza,
senior center/defensive tackle and one of Forks' captains.
"It's a huge part of our lives.
"It's a common interest
that brings you close together. You develop this strong trust in
the guy next to you. You do your job and you know that he'll do
Coach Kelsey Green said,
"It's the chemistry within the group, their passion for the
game. They truly like each other and they truly like the
Other teams have been known to
profess as much.
The Blue Devils play the game
as if they genuinely subscribe to the "We before Me"
Absent on game day is any
indication of a crack in the team concept. The finger-pointing,
head-shaking and gum-flapping that too often accompany a play
gone awry or disagreement with a coach's decision on high school
fields and courts do not enter the mix.
No doubt facilitating the
cohesiveness is the fact Forks has had the luxury of regularly
involving so many players, given the one-sided nature of
numerous outcomes over the last two seasons. The starters do
their part and willingly yield to those who've put in equal
practice-field hours, the reserves who've developed painful
bruises that are the badges worn by scout team members.
"It's a total team, from 1
through 35," Green said. "The last two games, when we
weren't able to get everybody in to play, that bothered all of
As is the case with any
successful football team, Forks has its "stars," the
lads whose names elicit the heartiest cheers when announced
through the public address system. On this squad -- and
deservedly so -- heading that group is Kelsey Jenks, three-year
standout who is widely acknowledged as the premier football
player within Section 4's boundaries.
"No one has a big head,
they all rip each other -- in a good way," Green said.
"No one is immune. Not one of those 34 guys wouldn't dump
on Kelsey as quickly as they would anybody else."
Too, the Blue Devils have
sidestepped potential troubles begotten of the more visible team
members -- i.e., offensive backs -- dominating the acclaim that
goes hand in hand with consecutive state-title chases.
Within this group, the presumed
Big Men on Campus know the real score.
"I applaud the guys on the
line," quarterback Matt Juriga said, and proceeded to
rattle off the cast, prominent reserves as well as his
first-unit protectors. "That takes a lot of motivation on
their part to sit back and let us, the backs, get all the glory
for what is basically all their work."
Said Chris Spencer, a senior
and two-way mainstay:"Everyone works together and no one
cares who gets the interviews. Nobody's selfish on this
A prime example would be
Spencer, one-half of a quarterback platoon with Juriga for all
of last season and most of the present one. Green opted to go
exclusively with Juriga behind center in the semifinal round,
deeming Spencer's talents a better fit at halfback against the
large, physical opponent.
The result? A 28-14 Forks win,
contributions from Juriga and Spencer alike on both sides of the
line of scrimmage -- and not a dissenting peep from Spencer,
last season's hero in the Section 4 title game and state
"I'm perfectly fine with
it," Spencer said. "I'll do whatever it takes just to
be on the field. If it helps the team, me moving to halfback,
I'll definitely do it."
It is with that prevailing
attitude that Forks is, for a second year in a row, a win shy of
the state championship.
"What we have is what
every program has to have in order to be any kind of a program
at all," Green said.
From the Westchester County
November 29, 2002
(11-1) vs. Chenango Forks (Section 4) (12-0)
When: Sunday, noon
Where: Carrier Dome,
Rudy Arcara (5-11, 185), Sr. HB/LB; Steve Burton (5-10, 190),
Sr. HB/DB; Peter Kohlasch (5-8, 165), Sr. QB/S/PK; Luigi
Rogliano, (5-10, 205), Jr. FB/LB; Ricky Alvarado (6-0, 210), Sr.
TE/DE. Chenango Forks — Kelsey Jenks (6-1, 229), Sr. FB/NG;
Matt Juriga (6-3, 202), Sr. QB/S; Steve Tronovitch (5-10, 183),
Sr. FB/LB; Zach Tarnowski (6-3, 236), Sr. TE/DE; Drew Batty
(5-9, 162), Sr. HB/CB.
Harrison running backs Rudy Arcara and Luigi Rogliano against the
Chenango Forks defense.
has the ball: Arcara
has only gotten better in the postseason, pounding Lansingburgh
for 218 yards on 32 carries in his most recent game. Opposing
teams know Harrison relies on the run, but have been helpless to
stop it. Arcara has racked up 1,444 yards, and Rogliano has
complemented him with 1,136 yards this season. Quarterback Peter
Kohlasch has run and passed for more than 500 yards.
When Chenango Forks has the
ball: The Blue Devils are primarily a running team and have
one major threat, senior fullback Kelsey Jenks, who has gained
1,361 yards and scored 26 touchdowns since moving from tackle
last season. Quarterback Matt Juriga is the team's
second-leading rusher (555 yards), and is capable of throwing
when needed. In last week's semifinal win over Section 5's Bath,
Juriga completed 3 of 5 passes for 131 yards and three
Outlook: In a matchup of
teams with similar tools and styles of play, the chances of a
close game are very good. Both are running teams that will pass
if necessary, and both are adept at stopping the run. The Blue
Devils' defense has allowed an average of 100 rushing yards per
game, and their offense has gained an average of 305. Chenango
Forks enters the Carrier Dome having lost in the state final
last year, just like Harrison did in 1999 when the Huskies won
their first and only state title.
the run is Forks' priority
BY KEVIN STEVENS
Press & Sun-Bulletin
Saturday November 30, 2002
The offense grinds out hefty
quantities of yardage via the option game. The base defense is
5-2, with large bodies up on the line and an aggressive, active
cast in the back.
It is a program that has
experienced the pressure and thrill that is the experience of
competing in a state championship football game.
That team is Chenango Forks.
And that team is
Westchester County powerhouse that will oppose the Blue Devils
in the Class B title game beginning at noon Sunday at the
Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
Chenango Forks (12-0) brings
the New York Sports Writers Association's No. 1 ranking into the
contest, having advanced to the final for a second consecutive
winner of 11 in a row, won the 'B' championship in 1999 and was
state runner-up in '98.
Forks senior Juan Mendoza, identifying that which he believes
will determine the outcome. "What they do is similar to
what we do, so it comes down to execution."
advanced to the final
with a 31-21 semifinal victory over Lansingburgh, an Albany-area
school that began the state tournament having outscored its
first 10 opponents by an aggregate 618-79.
The Huskies feature not only
two 1,000-yard-plus rushers and a quarterback that has generated
better than 1,000 all-purpose yards, but a huge senior lineman
who will play his collegiate ball in the Big Ten Conference.
"Our work is cut out for
us -- big time," Blue Devils coach Kelsey Green said.
Harrison's rushing leader is
Rudy Arcara, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior who has 1,444 yards
and 20 touchdowns for the season. He blew through Lansingburgh
for 220 yards last Saturday at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
"He's not incredibly big,
but he's pretty smooth and shifty," Mendoza said. "And
he's strong, too."
The No. 2 rusher for the
Huskies is Luigi Rogliano, a 210-pound junior who has averaged
9.3 yards per carry on his way to a 1,136-yard, 14-touchdown
total. Quarterback Peter Kohlasch is also Westchester County's
leading kicker, 6-for-6 on field goals and 34-for-40 on extra
The two-way lineman who has
accepted the University of Wisconsin's scholarship offer is
Andrew Weininger, 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds. Recruiting analysts
are taken with not only his size and strength, but by his quick
feet and agility.
"Harrison hits you with
the running game in a variety of ways," Green said.
"They'll spread you out a little, hit you with the option
three or four ways, and they'll also hit you with power out of
their spread set."
Said Forks' Chris Spencer, a
two-way back: "Harrison will come right at us like Bath
(the Blue Devils' semifinal victim), but they'll come right at
us with option. These guys will try to get outside on us a
For Harrison, that will mean
getting outside Jake Frisch on one end or Zach Tarnowski on the
other, a feat few Forks opponents have accomplished.
Asked if Harrison
pose a greater threat than Bath, Green replied, "I don't
think there's any question about that, though I hope I'm wrong.
I hope I'm dead wrong.
"We'll have to play our
counting on experience in championship
feel they learned from last year's loss to Peru
BY KEVIN STEVENS
Press & Sun-Bulletin
December 1, 2002
For a two-hour-or-so period
beginning at noon today, the agony of year-old defeat may just
prove to be a valuable ally of Chenango Forks' football players
When the hands on the clock
meet at 12 in the Carrier Dome, either the unbeaten Blue Devils
or once-beaten Harrison will be -- provided overtime is not
required -- 48 minutes worth of game time from the Class B state
The many seniors up and down
Forks' roster were in the same spot last Dec. 2, a night when
things did not go at all according to plan.
This time around, they're bent
on building more pleasant memories.
Last December, on the same
Carrier Dome turf, what had been a perfect Forks season to that
stage was spoiled by a 14-7 loss to Peru, a school located just
south of Plattsburgh which claimed its first state championship.
"You have that focus
year-round on that one game," said Juan Mendoza, a two-way
lineman and of of those 24 Forks seniors. "There is that
lingering thought in the back of your mind -- what could have
"Fortunately, we have a
second chance, and not often do you get a second chance at
something like this."
Forks' undoing in last year's
title game came in the opening quarter, when Peru struck for two
touchdown passes and a 14-0 lead. From that point, the Blue
Devils' defense tightened, but their offense mustered only one
score in response.
Today's challenge is likely to
be vastly different for Forks.
As opposed to Peru, which did
its damage through the air, Harrison -- a perennial football
power located in Westchester County -- is known for its
productive running game.
Be that as it may, the Blue
Devils will have just one thing in mind today.
"Win the ballgame,"
said Matt Juriga, a two-way back. "We don't need a blowout,
we don't need a close game. Just win, and any fashion of a win
would be fine with me."
Said Chris Spencer, another
senior and two-way back: "After last year, we know what
it's like. We told ourselves in the locker room after the (loss
to Peru), 'We're going to be back here.'
"We know what it was like
to see the seniors who'd worked so hard to get to that point and
lose the game."
run high for Forks football followers
fans confident about today's Class B championship
BY SCOTT ROCKEFELLER
Press & Sun-Bulletin
CHENANGO FORKS -- For football fans, Sundays usually conjure
up thoughts of a day in front of the tube watching the big guys
in the National Football League games. But not in Chenango Forks
Many will be more interested in
their high school varsity team, the Blue Devils, as they go up
against the 11-1 Harrison Huskies in a Class B state
Fans could hardly control their
emotions the day before the celebrated contest. On Saturday,
residents took the opportunity to praise their local powerhouse
as well as watch some college games.
"I think it will be a
tight game," said Kyle Voorhis of Chenango Forks, who
watched the Miami Hurricanes give a licking to the Syracuse
Orangemen at the Carrier Dome, where today's championship
contest will be played.
Voorhis, whose younger cousin,
Rob Voorhis, is a senior on the unbeaten squad, said he plans to
travel to Syracuse to root for his home team.
"This is a pretty small
town," he said. "That's why it's so exciting that
we're doing good."
hangs in front of the house of a Chenango Forks football
player in the Town of Chenango. Chenango Forks will play
in its second consecutive Class B title game today at
the Carrier Dome in Syracuse
And they certainly did well
this season. The 12-0 Blue Devils, who beat Bath, 28-14, last
week, enter today's game holding New York Sports Writers
Association's No. 1 ranking. Last year Chenango Forks lost by
one touchdown to Peru in the state title game.
Dean Knapp, also of Chenango
Forks, declared his town "home of the state champs."
Knapp, who said he played on
Forks' last unbeaten team in 1973, joked that the team needn't
come home if they lose against Harrison.
"They'll win this game,
guaranteed," he said. "They've got no choice but to
And the support for the Blue
Devils was evident throughout the town. Banners wishing the team
well hung on the front of the homes of team members Steve
Tronovitch and Matt Juriga. Co-captain Tronovitch said he
expects the biggest show of support just before the team heads
"I'm not sure what our
parents will do," he said.
Tronovitch said encouragement
from his fellow townspeople hasn't been hard to find either.
"Last night I was at
Grande (Pizza), and people came up to me saying, 'You're going
to win,' " he said.
"Everywhere you go, you
hear about it," the senior quarterback said. "It's
been really exciting."
Support for the Blue Devils has
even made its way out of the town. Binghamton resident Mike
Marsh, who knows coach Kelsey Green through softball leagues,
will be rooting for Chenango Forks.
"They have a powerful
team. I hope they do well," he said.
Marsh said he has no problem
supporting a team outside of his own community.
"Hey, it's a local
team," he said. "If they do good, that's just fine
December 1, 2002
Today, No.1 state-ranked Chenango Forks
(12-0) is facing a noon kickoff against No.2-ranked Harrison (11-1) in the Class B state final. One year ago this weekend,
Chenango Forks lost a 14-7 to Peru in the state title game.
Thus, coach Kelsey Green's Blue
Devils are eager to avenge that showing, though they know
beating Harrison will likely prove to be a difficult task. The
Huskies are multi-faceted on offense, led by quarterback Peter
Kohlasch, plus the rushing of Rudy Arcara and Luigi Rogliano.
Chenango Forks is led by
all-state 229-pound fullback-linebacker Kelsey Jenks, among the
favorites to be named the state's Class B player of the year.
Quarter: This year's success will be hard to repeat for Forks
that went 24-2 over two seasons loses 25 seniors
BY MIKE MANGAN
Press & Sun-Bulletin
CHENANGO FORKS -- Just one day after his team's
hopes for a state football title were vanquished by the foot of Harrison
kicker Pete Kohlasch, it was evident to Chenango Forks
head football coach Kelsey Green that it's going to take quite a
bit of time to get over this season's painful ending.
|Matt Juriga is
one of 25 seniors who helped contribute to the Blue
Devils' successful season. Forks will rely on a strong
contingent of junior varsity players to fill the holes
what we felt up there Sunday is going to stay with us for a
while," Green said. "How can you not be hurting for
those guys? You can't find a better group of kids, and that's
not just talking about talent.
kids have worked so hard and showed much loyalty over the last
that hard work and loyalty would reap the ultimate reward -- a
Class B state title -- Sunday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
That is, until
Kohlasch booted a 30-yard field goal as time expired to give Harrison
a 22-21 victory.
It was the
second straight year that CF lost in the state finals. Last
year, the Blue Devils lost 14-7 to Peru.
Green said that
this loss was no different from any season-ending loss in
regards of how he felt about his departing seniors.
acknowledged that the heightened expectations for this year's
team made this year's title-game loss a little tougher to
year, we knew we had a nice squad but to get to the state finals
wasn't something we envisioned," Green said. "This
year, from day one we anticipated being in the mix and having a
great chance to win it. And when we got there and didn't realize
that goal, it really hurt, no doubt about it."
Blackman, a starting lineman on offense and defense, lamented
his team's lost opportunity.
we played a great game, and we won the game numbers-wise, even
though the scoreboard didn't indicate it," Blackman said.
"It's a lot tougher than last year. Last year, the better
team won, but this time I don't think the better team won."
While it's not
wise to underestimate Green and his highly-regarded coaching
staff, earning a third straight trip to the state playoffs will
be extremely difficult.
There were 25
seniors on this year's squad, most of whom played played a
significant role in the Blue Devils' 24-2 record the last two
those seniors are standouts such as nose guard and running back
Kelsey Jenks, quarterbacks Matt Juriga and Chris Spencer, and
cornerback Drew Batty to name just a few.
will get an infusion of players up from this year's junior
varsity team that went 7-1, and he does return Tim Batty, who
will be the starting quarterback next year, and Joe Babcock and
Chris Pease, key cogs on the offensive and defensive lines.
going to be very, very young and inexperienced, but that's the
way it works in high school," Green said. "There is
some talent, and you know that these kids saw what our guys did
this season to get to this level."
they have to work to get it. It's our job to convince
sophomore, knows things may be different next year.
be very hard to repeat the success of this season," Batty
said. "We'll be all right, but it will be hard.
the other guys, we'll just have to take the leadership role and
give the best we've got."