2002 Chenango Forks Varsity Football

New York State Class B Championship vs Harrison!

Harrison wins 22-21


Articles courtesy of the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin,
The  Westchester County Journal News and the Syracuse Post-Standard

to Game 12 - Bath

to the 2002 team page


There is a LOT of stuff on this page, many articles. Many post-game articles from the the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Harrison area paper (The Journal News) and the Syracuse Post-Standard follow next on this page. All three papers also had plenty of preview articles for the game. Those articles, plus the Tuesday "5th Quarter" segment from the Binghamton Press, are below the stats on this page.  

Heartbreaking loss for Forks

Harrison High makes field goal as time expires to beat CF for Class B football championship

Press & Sun-Bulletin
Chris Greblick Tronovitch gives teammate Steve Tronovitch a pat on the back after the Blue Devils were defeated by Harrison High, 22-21, in the Class B state championship football game in the Carrier Dome - Wayne Hansen photo

SYRACUSE -- The statistical summary told a clear and accurate tale of Chenango Forks superiority, a story of state championship-caliber football demonstrated nearly throughout Sunday's Class B title game.  

Problem was, the only account that mattered, the one illuminated on the Carrier Dome's scoreboards upon conclusion of play, belied most of what had transpired through 48 minutes of game time.

Harrison High snatched away a 22-21 victory and its second state championship in four years when Peter Kohlasch converted a 30-yard field goal as time expired, sending Forks to its second consecutive loss in the title game.

Forks, with 19 first downs to Harrison's nine, saw its previously perfect record dealt a season-ending whack.

Forks, possessor of the football for 32:43 to Harrison's 15:17, lost hold of the No. 1 state ranking it brought into the game.

Forks, despite a 128-yard advantage in total offense, turned in the jerseys a stride short of its goal.

"I felt we won this game every way possible but the score," Blue Devils quarterback Matt Juriga said. "I don't know of a tougher way to lose than that."

The Blue Devils (12-1), leaders by 21-12 at halftime, punted away the football on fourth-and-16 with just over 3 1/2 minutes to play in the game. That left Harrison (12-1) in possession at its 32-yard line.

Drew Batty pleads with an official after a potential touchdown pass to brother Tim was ruled incomplete during the Class B state championship football game at the Carrier Dome - Wayne Hansen photo

Rudy Arcara, the Huskies' rushing leader who'd been hampered by a leg injury suffered on the sixth play of the game, spun free of a shirt tackle and picked up 22 yards to Forks' 46. Three plays later, Harrison faced fourth-and-5 from the 41.

Enter Steve Burton, who to that point had neither rushed with, nor received the football. Burton gained 11 yards on a run to set up first down at the 30, and followed by making a leaping catch of a pass from Kohlasch for a 16-yard gain to the 13-yard line.

The Huskies picked up a yard on first down, went nowhere on the next two plays, and called for timeout with two seconds remaining.

With the championship to turn on this play -- and following consecutive Chenango Forks timeouts -- Joe Brefere snapped to holder Angelo Delborgo, who placed the ball so that Kohlasch could make good on his seventh field goal in as many attempts this season.

"It felt like forever and ever and ever," Rogliano said of the wait brought on by the timeouts.

"Of course I was nervous," Kohlasch said. "This was our goal from the beginning of the season, and here it is up to me whether or not we achieve it. But I want to be in that position."

That Harrison was in position to attempt the decisive kick could be tied to a couple of penalties against Forks on its final possession.

There was the holding penalty that negated a nice gain by Juriga on second down from Harrison's 45-yard line, setting up second-and-12 from the Devils' 46. And there was the false-start penalty that made it second-and-17 from the 41.

Too, there was a holding penalty assessed against Forks to wipe out an apparent 12-yard rushing TD by Kelsey Jenks with under two minutes to play in the third quarter.

"It seemed like every time we got moving, they (the officials) found a way to call a holding penalty on us," Devils coach Kelsey Green said. "It was just amazing to me that (Harrison) didn't hold once."

In the first half of play, Chenango Forks ran 39 plays to the Huskies' 10, gained 254 yards to their Westchester County foe's 65, and took a 21-12 lead when Juriga dumped off a short pass to Nick Mirabito that turned into a 20-yard scoring play and was followed by Tim Batty's PAT kick with 26 seconds left.

In the second quarter alone, Harrison gained 4 total yards on four plays and punted once.

"We definitely controlled the ball, couldn't have asked for a better job of controlling the ball and keeping our defense off the field," Juriga said.

Included in the first-half showing was a 72-yard drive on Forks' opening possession, which ended with Juriga delivering to Tim Batty on a crossing route for a 12-yard TD pass.

The Blue Devils went 70 yards on their second possession and made it a 14-6 lead when Jenks powered over the right side of the line from 3 yards out and Tim Batty added the PAT kick. Jenks set up the TD with a 42-yard rush on the play before the score.

The points were primarily due to an upper hand gained by interior linemates Jake Frisch, Juan Mendoza, Steve Blackman, Steve Bronson and Mike Bunker, along with tight end Zach Tarnowski.

Harrison drew within 14-12 with 5:15 to play in the half when Burton intercepted a pass and traveled 53 yards with the return. But, with the Huskies seeking to tie it up, Frisch sacked Kohlasch to snuff out the two-point attempt.

The Huskies made it a 21-19 game when Kohlasch went 46 yards on an option for a score with 5:39 to play in the third quarter, and added the PAT kick.

Forks' final possession began at its 13-yard line with 10:55 to play after Arcara got off a 65-yard, quick-kick punt while lined up at tailback from a standard formation on fourth-and-1.

Forks proceeded to convert on two third-down situations, pick up another first down when Jenks gained 6 yards to the Devils' 48, but then was done in by the two penalties. The drive ended when Juriga's third-and-16 pass fell incomplete.

"I think we played great, but there were some mistakes in there that we could have done without," said Jenks, who rushed for 141 yards and was named the game's most valuable offensive back by a state football committee.

"I have to leave with my head up," Jenks added. "We've done what no Chenango Forks team has done, go to two state championship games in a row. We got our second chance. Too bad we couldn't fulfill it, but we can't complain."

Mendoza was named most valuable offensive lineman.  

Juriga shows leadership ability during, after tough loss in title game

Press & Sun-Bulletin

SYRACUSE -- Matt Juriga maintained an admirable grip on his emotions, patiently articulating the twists and turns that went into Chenango Forks' last-second 22-21 loss to Harrison in Sunday's Class B state football final.  

But then, asked how much more sting accompanied this defeat than the 14-7 loss to Peru in last year's final, sentiment got the better of Forks' quarterback/cornerback, who'd performed exceptionally only to see a second consecutive season conclude with the only loss on the record.

"It's a million times worse, being a senior ... " said Juriga, voice quivering and tear ducts springing into delayed action.

Blue Devil defenders rise up to try and block a field goal attempt by Harrison's Peter Kohlasch on the final play of Sunday's game. Kohlasch made the 30-yard kick - Wayne Hansen photo

For 48 minutes of his final scholastic football contest, Juriga played brilliantly, his acute decision making, authoritative running and keen passing touch triggering an offense that had far the better of Harrison most of the afternoon -- with substantial aid of his linemen.

He closed his final game with 86 passing yards and two touchdowns on 6-for-10 accuracy, and added 52 rushing yards. He handled the Blue Devils' option offense with aplomb, and sprinkled in some catchy gains on the quarterback-trap play that Forks summoned more often than in past contests.

All the while, he did double-duty in the defensive secondary, providing a mobile and physical presence against the heralded running game of Harrison.

The play he'd most like back, which took place on third-and-7 with 5:15 remaining in the first half, was a pass that Harrison's Steve Burton intercepted and returned 53 yards for a score. It was a play gone haywire because of too little spacing between Forks receivers. Nevertheless, Juriga -- quarterback and leader -- accepted the blame.

"They (the receivers) were a little close together, but it was my fault," he said. "I lobbed it up there too much, I should have thrown it more on a line."

Forks coach Kelsey Green called Juriga's send-off performance no different than the rest.

"He played tremendous, and he's played tremendous 13 times out of 13 games," Green said. "He orchestrates the offense beautifully, keeps his poise and gets the big yards when you need them running inside or out.

"He's a tough kid, a real good kid to have. We're going to miss about 25 of them (seniors), I'll tell you that."

Forks dealt tough defeat

Harrison wins title in final seconds

Press & Sun-Bulletin

Dejected Forks fans watch the Blue Devils shake hands with Harrison players after Harrison pulled out a 22-21 win at Syracuse University's Carrier Dome in the New York State Class B football state championship game - Wayne Hansen photo

The Chenango Forks Blue Devils varsity football team had been handed its lone defeat of the season thanks to a 30-yard field goal in the last two seconds of the Class B state championship game Sunday.  

The Huskies from downstate Harrison beat the Blue Devils 22-21 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. But to look at them Sunday night -- chatting, laughing and posing for photos at the team's post-season party at the Relief Pitcher in Binghamton -- you'd never know that hours earlier the Chenango Forks team had suffered a last-minute heartbreak.

Team members chose to look back on years of camaraderie, instead of focusing on their one-point defeat.

Senior co-captain Kelsey Jenks said he will always remember the friendships made during his time as a Blue Devil. Much of the team has played together since their days as pee-wees, Jenks said. He attributed much of the team's success to a closeness that enabled members to trust each other on the field.

Jenks, a standout noseguard and fullback on the 12-1 team, said the loss didn't dampen the joy of reaching the state finals for the second consecutive year.

"It was a lot of fun," he said of the Dome appearance. "Just being there was awesome."

Still the mood immediately after the tide turned was anything but fun, players said.

A large contingent of community supporters went to Syracuse to cheer on the Blue Devils. The crowd's mood changed quickly with the game's score.

Blue Devil receiver Tim Batty scores Forks' first touchdown on a pass from quarterback Matt Juriga Sunday. Harrison defender Steve Burton is behind - Wayne Hansen photo

"When something went wrong, everybody was silent," said Jessica Bronson, 16, a Chenango Forks student and fan. "When things went right, all you could hear was screaming. The feel was very ominous."

As it was clear that the team had lost, Chenango Forks fans filed out slowly and silently, Booster Club President Joe Aston said. Jubilation had turned to sorrow.

It hit the team even harder.

Steve Tronovitch, a co-captain, said the beginning of the ride home was a silent affair. He and his teammates thought about what they could have done differently, he said.

But as the ride continued, he said, "some guys were cracking jokes and getting back to normal."

Zach Tarnowski, a senior who played end on offense and defense, said he and his teammates gradually began realizing that they had a great deal to be proud of in their second-place finish and nearly perfect record. That, he said, made things begin to look up.

"You got to realize that the sun rises again tomorrow," he said. "It just makes you stronger."

Still Tronovitch said he and other seniors feel emotional about playing their last game with Chenango Forks. Tronovitch said he doesn't expect to play football in college, since he couldn't imagine it being better than playing with the Blue Devils.

"A lot of guys are realizing that they're not going to wear that jersey again," he said. "It doesn't seem like it's going to get any better than Forks."

Boys football
Class B state championship: Harrison defeats Chenango Forks (Section 4) 22-21


(Original publication: 12/02/02)

SYRACUSE Peter Kohlasch started running as fast as he could. He crossed the 30, dodged his Harrison teammates pouring off the sidelines, ripped off his helmet and eventually collapsed on the 50-yard line.

It was the biggest moment of his life. And quite possibly the most thrilling way to end the game, the season and his high school career.

Kohlasch connected on a 30-yard field goal as time expired to lift Harrison to a stunning 22-21 victory over a shocked Chenango Forks team from Section 4 in the Class B state championship game at the Carrier Dome yesterday.

"This really is the greatest day of my life," said Kohlasch, a senior who finished the season 7 for 7 on field-goal attempts, including a last-second game-winner against Edgemont in the regular season. "This has been my dream ever since I can remember. And to be put in that position to win the game was something I had to take advantage of, and will never forget."

It was the second state championship for Harrison (12-1), which also won a Class B title in 1999. The Huskies capped a turbulent season after the offseason death of teammate Robert Viscome, a season that included the suspension of nine players for a September drinking party and constant criticism of the program.

"We had so many things to deal with this season, more than any kids our age should ever have to," said senior tackle Andrew Weininger, who will play at Wisconsin next season. "We were under a microscope all season. And we realized the only way to escape the outside world was on the football field."

The Huskies, having trailed the entire game, got the ball on their own 32-yard line with 3:32 remaining and drove to the Chenango Forks 13. Harrison, which had the ball for over 17 minutes less than the Blue Devils (12-1), needed just eight plays to set up the winning kick.

Rudy Arcara, who played through a first-quarter knee injury, started the drive with a 22-yard run past midfield. Three plays later, the Huskies faced fourth-and-five at the Chenango Forks 41 with 1:28 left. Harrison opted to give the ball to Steve Burton, a senior fullback who hadn't carried the ball all game. Burton ran inside left tackle and gained 11 yards.

"That call came from up above in the booth," Harrison coach Art Troilo Jr. said. "My offensive-line coach, Steve Williams, was telling me to run it through the gap."

Burton followed that carry with a leaping 16-yard catch from Kohlasch, bringing Harrison down to the Chenango Forks 14 with 40 seconds left. Arcara then ran for a yard before Kohlasch was stopped on an option play for no gain, leaving just 2 seconds on the clock.

That was just enough time for the biggest play of the season.

After the Blue Devils had tried to ice Kohlasch with a couple of timeouts, he put the game winner directly through the uprights from the right hash mark, sending the Harrison sideline into pandemonium.

"Even in the games we won by a lot, getting the experience of kicking a field goal helped today," Kohlasch said. "But nothing can prepare you for this."

Chenango Forks drove 72 yards on its first possession of the game to make it 7-0. Harrison answered immediately with a 33-yard touchdown run by Kyle Hannon, but Kohlasch missed the extra point to tie. After the Blue Devils made it 14-6 in the second quarter, Burton returned an interception 55 yards for a Harrison touchdown. But on the 2-point conversion attempt, Kohlasch was flushed from the pocket and sacked, leaving the score 14-12 for Chenango Forks.

The Blue Devils made it a nine-point game just before the half when Matt Juriga threw his second touchdown pass of the game, a 20-yarder to Nick Mirabito.

Kohlasch's 46-yard touchdown run and extra-point kick with 5:39 left in the third made it a two-point game, which the Harrison defense kept secure.

But led by Kelsey Jenks' 141 yards rushing, Chenango Forks enjoyed decided advantages in first downs (19-9), total offense (337-211) and time of possession (32:43-15:17). And there was a question as to whether Harrison would ever get the ball back in the fourth quarter at all.

Clinging to a 21-19 lead, Chenango Forks took control with 10:53 remaining and effectively inched its way up the field. The Blue Devils drove just 29 yards, but did it in 14 plays, chewing up over 7 minutes before Jason Collabella broke up a pass on third down, forcing Chenango Forks to punt.

"I couldn't believe how they kept moving the ball on us," Weininger said. "They seemed to convert on every third down. But we hung in there. And once we stopped them, I knew we were going to drive down and win this game."

Boys football

Class B state championship: Arcara's return sparks comeback


(Original publication: 12/02/02)

SYRACUSE The time was 9 minutes, 24 seconds into the game, and Harrison linebacker Rudy Arcara was down. As Arcara lay on the Carrier Dome turf clutching his knee and with the Harrison fans silenced, the outlook was grim for the Huskies.

"A guy came down on the side of my knee, and I heard a snap," Arcara said. "I knew it wasn't good. I was hurt, but that's why we have all those other people out there playing."

In yesterday's dramatic 22-21 victory over Chenango Forks of Section 4, it took a collective emotional effort by the Huskies to beat the Blue Devils.

With Arcara's departure, Harrison lost not only a starting linebacker, but also its most productive runner. Arcara had rushed for 1,444 yards and 20 touchdowns coming into the game, despite missing two games with a hand injury.

Although Arcara would return to the field in the first half to rush for 4 yards on two carries, he was replaced on defense by senior Eric Herron and by Tom Palmiotto, a senior who had not played the whole year.

When Arcara went down, so did the spirits of his team, which promptly allowed Chenango Forks to march 73 yards in 15 plays for a touchdown. Nine of those plays occurred after Arcara's injury.

But as it had done all year, Harrison wouldn't let a little adversity get it down.

"Just to see Rudy go down, it broke my heart," running back Luigi Rogliano said. "When faced with adversity, we had to keep things the same, because everything has been working all year."

The Huskies responded with a touchdown drive of their own, highlighted by Kyle Hannon's 33-yard touchdown scamper. A Peter Kohlasch extra-point miss left Harrison trailing 7-6. The Huskies would continue to trail most of the game.

Harrison was behind 21-12 at halftime, and had run only 10 offensive plays.

As the Huskies emerged from halftime, a different Arcara came out with them. Arcara ran around midfield, beating his chest and looking renewed.

"I told Rudy at halftime, 'It's up to you if you want to come back and win it for us,' " Harrison coach Art Troilo Jr. said. "He made a decision that this was his last time out, and he played hurt."

With Arcara playing both ways again, Harrison held Chenango Forks scoreless in the second half.

"I call most of the defensive signals so it was important I was out there," Arcara said. "I'm just so proud of the way we played."

Using the emotional lift, quarterback Kohlasch ran 46 yards on an option keeper on Harrison's second possession of the half for a touchdown. The extra point made it 21-19 until Kohlasch's 30-yard field goal as time expired. The game-winning drive began with a 22-yard run by Arcara.

"He wasn't as effective as he normally was, but he was effective as a morale lift, that he was just going to suck it up," Troilo said.

1 2 3 4   Tot
Chenango Forks 07 14 00 00 - 21
Harrison 06 06 07 03 - 22
  • C - Tim Batty 12 pass from Matt Juriga (Tim Batty kick), 4:52 left in Qtr
  • H - Kyle Hannon 33 run (kick failed), 2:03 
  • C - Kelsey Jenks 3 run (Batty kick), 11:29
  • H - Steve Burton 55 interception return (pass failed), 5:15
  • C - Nick Mirabito 20 pass from Juriga (Batty kick), 0:26
  • H - Peter Kohlasch 46 run (Kohlasch kick), 5:39
  • H - Kohlasch 30 field goal, 0:00


Harrison CF
First Downs 9 19
Rushes-Yards 27-183 56-251
Passing Yards 28 86
Comp-Att-Int 2-3-0 6-10-1
Total Offense 30-211 66-337
Punts-Ave yards 3-42.0 3-36.3
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-0
Fumble Ret-yards 0-0 1-0
KO Returns-yrds 4-79 4-87
Intercept ret-yrds 1-55 0-0
Penalties-Yards 2-20 7-60
Time Of Possession 15:17 32:43
Sacks by-yrds 1-8 0-0


Harrison rushing:  

  • Peter Kohlasch 8-50, 1 TD
  • Luigi Rogliano 7-49
  • Rudy Arcara 9-42
  • Kyle Hannon 2-31, 1 TD
  • Steve Burton 1-11

Chenango Forks rushing:  

  • Kelsey Jenks 27-141, 1 TD
  • Matt Juriga 16-52
  • Nick Mirabito 4-19
  • Drew Batty 4-16
  • Steve Tronovitch 2-13
  • Chris Spencer 2-10
  • Tim Batty 1-0

Harrison passing

  • Peter Kohlasch 2-3-0, 28 yards

Chenango Forks passing: 

  • Matt Juriga 6-10-1, 86 yards

Harrison receiving: 

  • Steve Burton 1-16
  • Angelo Delborgo 1-12 

Chenango Forks receiving:  

  • Drew Batty 2-27
  • Zach Tarnowski 2-27
  • Nick Mirabito 1-20, 1 TD
  • Tim Batty 1-12, 1 TD

Harrison Sacks (UA-A):

  • Nick Pennella 1-0

Chenango Forks Sacks (UA-A):

  • None

Harrison tackles (UA-A):

  • Luigi Rogliano 10-11
  • Jason Colabella 3-8
  • Josh Haynes 4-5
  • Kyle Hannon 5-3
  • Andy Weininger 3-5
  • Rudy Arcara 3-3
  • Angelo Delborgo 2-3
  • Steve Burton 1-3
  • Ryan Lambiasi 1-3
  • Nick Pennella 1-3
  • Ricky Alvardo 0-4
  • Tom Palmiotto 0-2
  • Mat Monfort 0-1
  • Dave Fraioli 0-1
  • Matt Cipolla 0-1

Chenango Forks tackles (UA-A):

  • Zach Tarnowski 5-1
  • Kelsey Jenks 3-2
  • Steve Tronovitch 2-3
  • Tim Batty 2-1
  • Steve Blackman 2-1
  • Jesse Smith 2-1
  • Matt Juriga 1-2
  • Nick Mirabito 2-0
  • Drew Batty 2-0
  • Matt Blackman 0-2
  • Joe Babcock 0-1
  • Jake Frisch 0-1
  • Juan Mendoza 0-1


Preview Articles Below


Unselfish attitudes of players has team vying for championship Forks rides team concept to title game

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 concern.

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 stake.

Chenango 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 his."

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 game."

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" philosophy.

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 them."

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 team."

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 semifinal.

"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 Journal News
November 29, 2002


(Original publication: 11/29/02)

Who: Harrison (11-1) vs. Chenango Forks (Section 4) (12-0)

When: Sunday, noon

Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse

Key Players: Harrison 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.

Key matchup: Harrison running backs Rudy Arcara and Luigi Rogliano against the Chenango Forks defense.

When Harrison 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 touchdowns.

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.

Stopping the run is Forks' priority

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 Harrison, a 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 year.

Second-ranked Harrison (11-1), winner of 11 in a row, won the 'B' championship in 1999 and was state runner-up in '98.

"Execution," said 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."

Harrison 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 points.

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 little more."

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 figures to 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 A-plus game."

Forks counting on experience in championship

Players feel they learned from last year's loss to Peru

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 football championship.

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 been?

"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."

Emotions run high for Forks football followers

Family, fans confident about today's Class B championship

Press & Sun-Bulletin

-- 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 today.  

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 championship game.

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."

A banner 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 win."

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 to Syracuse.

"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.

Juriga agreed.

"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 with me."

Syracuse Post-Standard
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.

5th Quarter: This year's success will be hard to repeat for Forks

Team that went 24-2 over two seasons loses 25 seniors

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 next season.

"I think 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.

"These kids have worked so hard and showed much loyalty over the last three years."

It appeared 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.

But he acknowledged that the heightened expectations for this year's team made this year's title-game loss a little tougher to swallow.

"Last 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."

Senior Steve Blackman, a starting lineman on offense and defense, lamented his team's lost opportunity.

"I thought 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 years.

Included among 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.

However, Green 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.

"We're 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 know they have to work to get it. It's our job to convince them."

Batty, a sophomore, knows things may be different next year.

"It will be very hard to repeat the success of this season," Batty said. "We'll be all right, but it will be hard.

"Me and the other guys, we'll just have to take the leadership role and give the best we've got."

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