Press & Sun-Bulletin game article #1 (Front page)-
Devils defeat Rye, 16-0, for state Class B football title
Press & Sun-Bulletin
CHENANGO FORKS -- Within minutes of Chenango Forks' victory in
Saturday's state Class B title football game, Al Gelder knew
about it. The pastor at Valley Christian Reformed Church on
River Road quickly concocted a message for the church's front
sign: "Chenango Forks State Champions! Rye Is Really
"When something great is
going on at the school, we want to be a part of it," Gelder
said. "This is something to welcome them home with."
For the third time in as many
years, the Blue Devils advanced to the state finals. Saturday's
16-0 win over Rye marked the team's first victory in the last
About an hour after the
victory, word had spread through the town. A congratulations
sign went up at Davy's Last Chance Saloon and a few trucks on
Route 12 sported messages announcing the triumph.
Greene resident Donnie Starr
savored the victory over a cold can of Budweiser. Starr grew up
in Chenango Forks and has a sister who works for the school
"I guess the third time
was a charm for these guys," he said. "New York state
champions -- perfect."
Patrons at Davy's said the
phone started ringing after Forks erased a 0-0 tie with a field
goal in the third quarter. Periodic reports from the legion of
Forks enthusiasts who traveled to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse
kept fans well informed, even though they were more than 60
miles away from the action.
Bill O'Neil said he was
thrilled with the victory, even though he lives in Binghamton.
O'Neil, who had just finished hunting, has been a Forks football
fan for a quarter-century.
"To be there three years
in a row is something in itself," he said. "But to win
is just great."
By 2:30 p.m., about half an
hour before the team arrived at the school, parents and fans
began to gather in the parking lot. The biting wind couldn't
remove the smiles from their faces.
April and Steve Lucas were all
thrills after the game, even though their son Craig was injured
and did not play. Dressed in matching blue and red Forks sweat
shirts, the proud parents recalled two previous trips home that
didn't feel quite the same.
"After two years of losing
it, they deserve this," Steve Lucas said.
As players arrived on two
buses, they were greeted by a chorus of honking horns and loud
screams. Players hopped off the buses to greet friends and
relatives, some grabbing bags of equipment, others throwing
Junior linebacker Matt Stephens
sat down in the school cafeteria to soak in the excitement.
Stephens, whose interception set up Forks' final touchdown,
compared this year's bus ride home to the previous two.
"This is so much
better," he said. "It's amazing."
Press & Sun-Bulletin game article #2 (sports
Perfect end for Forks
Batty leads Blue Devils to first title
Press & Sun-Bulletin
-- Call them
patient, methodical, maybe even a bit dull.
They are traits the boys from
Chenango Forks forged through three consecutive trips to the
Class B state football championship game. The Blue Devils wait
for opportunities, and they take advantage.
With two fourth-quarter turnovers Saturday in the Carrier
Dome, Rye provided the opportunities. Forks quarterback Tim
Batty took advantage, throwing for one touchdown and running for
another in a 16-0 victory as the Blue Devils claimed the
school's first state championship.
"Mistakes in this type of game, a 0-0 game, usually
determine the winner and the loser," Forks coach Kelsey
Green said. "Fortunately for us, we didn't make the big
ones, and we were able to capitalize on a couple of their
The Blue Devils' patience might have been wearing thin after
36 minutes in which both teams drove deep into opposing
territory only to come up short of the end zone.
On Forks' final third-quarter charge down the field, Green
opted to try a field goal from 36 yards away -- no sure thing --
rather than risk coming up empty again, on a fourth-and-8 from
19. The coach's confidence in his kicker was rewarded as Batty
drilled the ball inside the left upright to give the Blue Devils
the lead, 3-0.
"I didn't think three was enough, but I'd take three
over zero," Green said. "I knew zero wasn't enough. It
was big getting on the board."
But Forks (13-0) was still waiting for a break when the final
seconds ticked off the clock in the third quarter. One play
later, the wait was over.
The Garnets (12-1) faced fourth-and-5 from their 45 when the
final period began. They looked to draw the Blue Devils offside
before switching to a quick-kick formation just before the snap.
Quarterback John Niehaus was supposed to take the ball from his
center and pitch it back to running back Steve Ramsey to punt
the ball away.
Niehaus pulled out from under his center before securing the
ball, and Forks sophomore Matt Faughnan recovered the fumble.
Fullback Joe Babcock, who ran for 107 yards, broke loose for
a 17-yard run down to the Rye 26. Two plays later, Batty hit
Zach Vredenburgh on a quick slant across the middle, and he
dodged a pair of defenders, got a block from Jon Florance, and
coasted into the end zone for a 23-yard score. Forks led 9-0
with 8:58 left.
"They were bringing a lot of guys at us,"
Vredenburgh said. "Mr. Green had me run a sneak across the
middle and there was no one there."
The Garnets never got a chance to recover. On the first play
of the ensuing drive, linebacker Matt Stephens intercepted
Niehaus at the Rye 30-yard line and returned the ball to the 11.
Four plays later, Batty, running behind the right side of his
offensive line, forced his way into the end zone from 2 yards
out to make it a 16-0 game.
That was more than enough for a Forks defense that yielded
just 211 yards to Rye.
The Garnets gained 61 of those yards on the opening drive as
Rye attacked Forks' left flank with a series of sweeps. But the
Blue Devils managed to cut off those running lanes in time to
stop the Garnets at the 19-yard line, where they took over on
The Garnets reached the 20 only once more, with 10 seconds
left in the opening half. Niehaus tried to connect with Patrick
Bassett in the corner of the end zone, but the receiver was
called for offensive pass interference, a 15-yard penalty that
pushed Rye back to the 35.
On the final play of the half, Babcock sacked Niehaus for a
Forks didn't make much headway against Rye's defense either.
The Blue Devils' opening series stalled at the 10-yard line
where Batty missed a 27-yard field goal wide to the left.
The Blue Devils then punted on their next three possessions
until Batty connected on the 36-yard field goal in the third
"Most of the game was just, you know ... A lot of people
might call it boring -- but I like it," Green said.
"Tough-nosed, hard-nosed, we've got those kinds of kids.
They take pride in that so that's what we do with them."
All above photos by Thomas Labarbera - Binghamton Press &
Sun-Bulletin. For captions place your mouse over the
Press & Sun-Bulletin game article
Fittingly, defense the difference
Stevens - commentary
How perfectly apropos, as Chenango Forks stood
facemask-to-facemask with state football-championship
opportunity once again, that the deal was slammed with defense.
Defense, which tends to be
lauded the least.
Defense, the centerpiece of 37
victories in 39 starts over the last three seasons of Blue Devil
Think the Garnets of Rye High
School wouldn't have liked their chances had they peered into a
crystal ball and seen a 16-point total attached to Forks when
the final horn sounded? Here was a quick, balanced and talented
crew from Westchester County that had more than doubled that
figure in each of its state playoff games, a team that had rung
up a 32.8-per-game average through a 12-game win streak.
"We've never been shut
out," said Rye coach Dino Garr. "If we don't score,
that's a great job defensively."
Chenango Forks 16, Rye 0 was
how the Class B championship contest ended early Saturday
afternoon in the Carrier Dome, the same building Forks players
exited each of the previous two seasons second-best on the
But see, if Rye doesn't produce
a point, the Blue Devils don't leave the Dome chins-to-chest
lamenting what might have been for a third consecutive autumn.
And so, they defended.
It was a defense that took a
wee bit of time to acclimate itself to all that Rye's offense
presented. The Garnets' opening play from scrimmage went for a
how-do-you-do 23-yard gain. In fact, three of the Section 1
champions' first six plays went for gains of 9 yards or better.
But that opening possession did
a screeching stop after reaching the Blue Devils' 19-yard line.
On second down, linebacker Matt Stephens met Eddie Urso at the
line for no gain. On third down, cornerback Ben Farnham tipped
away a pass at about the 5-yard line. On fourth down, teamwork
in the secondary was the root of a pass incompletion that put
the football in Forks' possession with 3:25 elapsed.
As for the remaining 44:35
worth of game clock?
Rye didn't penetrate the Blue
Devils' 20-yard line.
In fact, after the first half
expired with nary a point scored, Garnets quarterback John
Niehaus failed to accept a snap from center beyond Forks'
40-yard line. The one time Rye did set up at the 40, Niehaus
muffed the exchange from center, junior tackle Alex Williams
recovered, and Forks was on its way to a field goal and the only
points it would need to head off the most frustrating of three-peats.
Forks contributors were many on
the defensive side, diminutive cornerback Jason Chier most
certainly among them.
There was Chier, lunging
forward to take out Urso's legs on a third-and-one play from
Forks' 30 in the second quarter. A play later, the Blue Devils
forced a fumble and took possession near midfield.
On a third-and-1 play from just
inside Forks' 40 late in the second quarter, Chier -- 5-foot-8
and 167 pounds, or so the roster indicates, -- walloped Urso
near the sideline on the tail end of a 5-yard pass reception. It
was, no doubt, THE HIT of this title game.
And on the final play of the
first half, with Rye at the 35-yard line, linebacker Joe Babcock
charged through the middle and decked Niehaus for a deflating
On the final play of the third
quarter, Chier -- there's that name again -- tripped up Steve
Ramsey after a 1-yard gain on third-and-4 -- leaving the Devils
to recover a telltale fumble on the very next play.
One play after a Tim
Batty-to-Zach Vredenburgh pass play went for 23 yards and six
points to make it 9-0, Williams smacked Niehaus low just as the
quarterback was releasing a pass, Stephens intercepted and
returned to a point just shy of Rye's 10-yard line.
Four plays later, Batty lowered
his left shoulder and muscled over the goal line on a sneak,
added the PAT kick, and Forks led by a margin you just knew was
as safe as Fort Knox.
This superb defensive unit
trotted jubilantly off the field for one final time at 11:46
a.m., after officials' measurement revealed that Niehaus' last
pass was just short of first-down yardage with 4:48 remaining.
The Devils had done it, won the
big one that had squirted away the last two years, and had done
so with an exclamation point.
Now, 13th and final test
passed, state title tucked away, the defense rests.
"The shutout is great, but
as long as it's a 'W' no matter what the score was, it's the
best feeling in the world," Babcock said.
"It means a lot to
us," said two-way end Vredenburgh. "Our defense is the
strong point of the team, it gets everything going. Today, we
just played our best game of the year defensively, that's how we
"That's our strength,
that's what carried us," Forks coach Kelsey Green said.
"We wouldn't be here today without that defense. To shut
Rye out after watching them three games, knowing what kind of
kids they have, I would have never expected to be able to do
Oh, about 13-0 and the
championship of New York's Class B lot:Who in their right mind
might have anticipated that, after 25 members of last season's
12-1 state runners-up accepted diplomas last June?
Forks' players, that's who.
"I don't think anyone
expected us to even make it to our own divisional playoff,"
Chier said. "They thought we were going to be, like, a 5-4
or 6-3 team. We just proved everybody wrong. That's what we came
out to do all year, prove everybody wrong every game.
"We showed them
Showed their coaches, too.
"I'll tell you, if
(people) walked in the locker room and looked at them, they'd
still want to know where the varsity was," Green said.
"I mean, they're little, tough-nosed ... But they had an
inner belief the whole time. They did. They were the ones that,
from Day 1, thought they were coming here. Honest to God, they
thought they were coming here.
"We just got on the wagon
and rode them. 'Yeah, OK, take us.'
"And they did."
Press & Sun-Bulletin game article
#4 (sports page)-
Batty's poise bodes well for Forks
Press & Sun-Bulletin
SYRACUSE -- Moments after
guiding Chenango Forks to its first state football championship,
quarterback Tim Batty was asked how he planned to celebrate the
"Probably go home and take a
nap," the junior replied.
Batty wasn't wound up at 12:15 Saturday afternoon with a 16-0
state final victory secured, and he wasn't jittery some two
hours earlier as Forks looked to stop a string at two
consecutive state championship defeats.
The quarterback's steady play as much as anything was the
reason for Forks finally finishing first. Batty had a hand -- or
foot -- in every point the Blue Devils scored, throwing for one
touchdown, running for another and kicking a 36-yard field goal
and a point-after touchdown.
"He didn't get a chance to play a whole lot as a
sophomore at quarterback," Forks coach Kelsey Green said of
Batty. "He played a lot of other spots, but now it's his
offense and he runs it. If there's not something there, then he
makes something. That's the beauty of him."
As a runner, Batty is the perfect complement to fullback Joe
Babcock pounding the ball between the tackles. He is fast enough
to turn the corner and elusive in the open field.
But Batty's value is not limited to options and sneaks. On
pass plays, he seldom forces the ball into risky spots and can
create first downs by scrambling against blanket coverage.
And if he comes up short of the marker, so be it.
"We try to be, and everybody does, but we really pride
ourselves in not making mistakes with the football, and
(Saturday) we were able to do that," Green said after his
team played a turnover-free game. "That's No. 1. We've got
to secure the ball, and if we've got to punt it, we punt it
because we know we can play pretty good defense."
Forks' defense managed to rattle Batty's quarterbacking
counterpart in the second half Saturday afternoon.
John Niehaus, an A-student with an eye on the Ivy League next
fall, looked perfectly poised through the first 24 minutes of
play. He picked apart the Blue Devils for 53 passing yards on
the final drive of the first half.
He may have even gotten Rye into the end zone had receiver
Patrick Bassett not been called for offensive pass interference.
But the strong-armed senior had a rougher go in the second
half as the Blue Devils picked up their pass rush.
"We just had to get more pressure on him," Forks
linebacker Alex Williams said. "Once we started getting
pressure, he got a little frazzled in the pocket, and things
He fumbled a pair of snaps, and Forks took advantage,
building a 9-0 lead.
Later in the fourth quarter with Williams baring down on him,
Niehaus threw the ball up for grabs, and Matt Stephens
intercepted it to set up Forks' final score.
"We knew we couldn't make mistakes, and we did make
mistakes (Saturday)," Niehaus said. "We hurt ourselves
a lot. We felt if we played our own game, we would win. I still
believe that. But obviously didn't play our game today, and
Chenango Forks came out on top."
Press & Sun-Bulletin game article
#5 (sports page)-
Notebook: Self discipline benefits Forks' 'B'
SYRACUSE -- Add
discipline and intelligence to all the rest that went into
Chenango Forks' 16-0 victory over Rye on Saturday that gave the
Blue Devils the Class B state football championship.
Chenango Forks played
penalty-free football until -- with 5:40 remaining and all 16
points on the board -- nose guard Chris Pease was called for a
perfectly harmless encroachment infraction.
Forks' two penalties thereafter were for delay of game, while
taking time substituting with 19 seconds to play, and
immediately thereafter for an illegal conference.
"Yeah, I didn't call a timeout," Forks coach Kelsey
Green said. "Maybe they'll dock it out of my pay."
"We've been that way most all year," Green added.
"In the Chenango Valley game, the second half, we had a
bunch of penalties and we addressed that then-- in a way they
probably remember still."
Rye's five penalties went for 55 yards.
That Chenango Forks' defense turned in a fabulous effort was
evident on the scoreboard upon completion of play. That the
defense performed best in big-play situations was revealed on
the stat sheet.
Rye converted three of nine times on third down, and was
0-for-4 in fourth-down attempts.
"It seems like every time we got a third- or
fourth-and-short, we never got it, and they were able to come up
with a big play," Garnets coach Dino Garr said. " ...
That's what this game is. You've got to make the third-down and
fourth-down plays. They did on defense."
Rye quarterback John Niehaus, asked if Forks' was the best
defense his team faced this season, replied: "Absolutely.
"All the pressure they put on you, and we were really
surprised by their team speed. We saw them on tape, and we
looked at the roster, and we knew they were going to be big. But
they slanted hard to our strength. Early in the year, we could
get outside, but they flew to the ball."
THE PERFECT FINISH
Forks fullback/linebacker Joe Babcock, on what 13-0 means to
him and his teammates:
"That we're the best in the state. No one, in the
beginning, thought we could do it. The coaches believed in us,
we believed in ourselves from the start. Since then, we just
pecked away, pecked away, got to where we wanted to be-- and
played a great game."
THE NUMBERS SHOW ...
A statistical review of Chenango Forks' championship season:
* Three opponents -- Oneonta (14 in Week 3), Elmira Notre
Dame (21 in Week 6) and Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton (14 in Week 8)
scored two-digit totals.
* The finale brought the Devils' fourth shutout of the
season, but the first since a 17-0 victory at Dryden in Week 5.
"This team is a very good team, they hit hard. We came
out, hit 'em harder and shut 'em out," said cornerback
* Rye's 107 rushing yards represented the second-lowest total
by a Forks opponent since the start of Section 4's playoffs.
* The Blue Devils completed their state-playoff sweep despite
scoring 19 or fewer points in all three games. For the season,
they were held short of 20 in seven games.
* Babcock's game-high 107 rushing yards brought him to a
1,396-yard season total. He had 100 or better in eight games,
with a season-high 154 in the regular-season finale against
-- Compiled by KEVIN
Journal News game
B state championship:
Chenango Forks (Section 4) defeats Rye 16-0
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: November 30, 2003)
SYRACUSE — It was as if the
previous 12 games had never happened. Rye had been so sturdy all
season, spreading out the offense and beating teams with
efficiency and overwhelming pressure.
But the crispness that got the
Garnets to this point crumbled at the worst possible time.
Rye turned the ball over seven
times, including four on downs, and lost 16-0 to an efficient
and opportunistic Chenango Forks team in the Class B state final
at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
"We didn't play our game
today," senior quarterback John Niehaus said. "If we
did, we win this game. You just can't expect to win when you
make that many mistakes."
The Section 4 Blue Devils
finally were able to claim their first state title after losing
the previous two seasons, including a last-second defeat to
Every tool the Garnets (12-1)
used to disassemble teams in getting to this point was stripped
from their grips and used against them. Rye had frustrated
opponents with its ability to convert first downs, force
turnovers and relentless pressure.
Chenango Forks turned the
tables yesterday. It made 8 of 15 third-down conversions and
went 2 for 2 on fourth down. The Blue Devils went into the
fourth quarter ahead 3-0 on a 36-yard Tim Batty field nine
minutes into the third.
Facing a fourth-and-seven at
midfield on the ensuing drive, the Garnets set up in their usual
quick-kick punt formation. The play is designed for Niehaus to
take the snap, and pitch it back to fullback Steve Ramsey who
would then punt the ball away.
But Niehaus fumbled the
exchange. Chenango Forks took over the Rye 44.
On the Blue Devils' possession,
Batty scrambled 17 yards on a third-and-9 to keep the series
going. Three plays later, Rye again came with a blitz and Batty
was able to get the ball over the middle to tight end Zach
Vredenburgh who followed a block and went untouched into the end
zone for a 23-yard score.
"Their defense did
everything right," Blue Devils coach Kelsey Green said.
"After Zach's scramble, we were able to score a touchdown.
That was huge."
Things only got worse on the
Garnets' next possession. Niehaus threw an interception on first
down, which Matt Stephens returned to 18-yards to the Rye 10. On
fourth and inches on the 1, Batty kept it and wiggled his way
into the end zone to seal it with 6:59 left.
"We made too many
mistakes," senior running back Eddie Urso said. "We
fumbled twice and we couldn't convert on fourth down. I tripped
on one way play and the kid intercepted it and ran back to the
10-yard line. Nothing was really going our way."
That was the theme for the
entire game, starting our with the Garnets driving 61 yards into
the red zone only to turn the ball over on downs.
"I think if we could have
scored there, it would have set the tone for us right
away," Rye coach Dino Garr said. "We weren't able to
get that and it hurt us."
In the second half, the Blue
Devils started coming at Niehaus from all angles, sacking him
twice and hurrying him on every pass. The pressure disrupted
everything. The Garnets ground game never got going in the
second half and was limited to a season-low 107 yards for the
"It just wasn't our day to
win," senior lineman Bill Kindler said. "We had the
fumbles and lost the ball and then the interception. And we
couldn't get things going offense. They caught the breaks and we
The Garnets had one of the most
balanced attacks this season, coming in with an average of 331.5
yards per game, tops in the area. They were held to just 211 for
That element was sorely missed
yesterday. The Garnets did make a last ditch effort with just
under five minutes to play. But on fourth-and-seven, Niehaus
found Kevin Baine over the middle, but they came up inches
"Inches are what football
is all about," said Niehaus, who went 9 of 13 for 104 yards
passing. "There were a couple for short-yardage plays that
they made and we didn't. That was the difference in the
game article #2-
state championship: Hobbled Garnets, Urso come up short in title
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: November 30, 2003)
SYRACUSE — The play was a
simple sweep right, on the first play of Rye's second drive of
the third quarter. With his team trailing 3-0, Eddie Urso gained
4 yards before being tackled near the Garnets' sideline. This
time, the senior didn't hop to his feet and jog back to the
huddle as he had on nearly 200 prior carries this season. His
valuable legs, which led Rye this season with 1,308 yards
rushing, had cramped. The sensation was severe.
"I've never felt that much
pain in my life," Urso said.
Fighting the feeling, he
reappeared on the field to return a kickoff in the fourth
quarter of the Garnets' 16-0 defeat to Chenango Forks in
yesterday's Class B state championship. But the earlier
cramp-inducing carry ended up being his last of the game, the
last of his season, and the last of his career.
Naturally, Urso was saddened by
the loss and frustrated by injuries that seemed to mount as the
playoffs drew on. Constant banging on the turf during last
weekend's state semifinals at Dietz Stadium in Kingston bruised
the running back's left knee. He had also been hobbled by a bone
bruise in his right foot — a condition Garr compared to turf
"It's been a long haul.
Eddie's been struggling (with injuries), but he's been a
trooper," Rye coach Dino Garr said. "It's survival out
here, and we were hoping to get one more game out of him. He
gave us all he had and that's terrific."
Urso's final numbers for the
game were 48 yards on 12 carries, but the ever-increasing string
of injuries that riddled his 5-foot-10, 190-pound body made
those yards much more difficult to come by.
"We've had a long run
here. Anyone's going to get worn down after a while, but he's a
warrior so he kept battling," said senior running back Will
Donahue, the Garnets second-leading rusher who ran for 42 yards
to finish with 830 on the season. "They had a strong
defense and they kept pounding him. He kept bouncing back, but
it was just hard to get in the box on this defense. He did it
all year and he was just getting worn down by the end."
Cramps had bothered Urso
earlier in the season in a game against Edgemont, but this time
it was different.
"My calves were really
tight," he said. "It was really painful. Both my
calves really buckled and I was kind of limping. I tried to
straighten them out, but they were hurtin'.
"I think I ran pretty well
today," he added, "but what can you do?"
put, one team executed, the other didn't
(Original publication: November 30, 2003)
article talked extensively about the New Rochelle/Webster game.
That content was edited out. - Mike
Rye High's joy was
melancholy. The Garnets made mistakes, didn't look their
sharpest, seemed to labor on offense, and did so against a very
When the game
was over, a half dozen of the Garnets' many seniors who have
been together for so long, some since eighth grade, kneeled at
midfield long after their teammates had gone inside. They just
wanted to stay out there together as long as they could, for the
stinks to lose,'' Billy Kindler said, "but I'm not as upset
that we lost than to think that football's over and I'll
probably never get to play again.''
tears in their eyes, especially those of classy quarterback John
Niehaus, who took the blame — some of which could easily have
been shared — on himself.
The Garnets and
coach Dino Garr are in love with a little sweep-and-swap play in
which Niehaus hands off to running back Eddie Urso, then gets it
back and throws a pass. But when they did it on fourth-and-one,
it was stuffed, Niehaus fumbled and Chenango Forks gained 21
yards on the recovery.
That one didn't
kill Rye, which still went into the halftime locker room at 0-0.
The one that
hurt, though, came in the third quarter, with Chenango Forks up
Rye faced a
fourth-and-five. It lined up for a play, called time, and then
lined up for another play. The Garnets shifted into a quick-kick
formation, for a play on which Niehaus was to take the snap and
pitch it back to the punter. Rye didn't simply go out and punt
because long snapper Kevin Blaine had a shoulder separation, and
regular punter Urso was on the sideline with leg cramps.
the snap, and all the machinations made what should have been a
simple play look awfully complex and unnecessary. Sure enough,
Chenango Forks took it right in for a 26-yard touchdown, and
when Niehaus, under physical pressure all day, was hit as he
released his next pass — Urso had fallen down — it was
picked off and returned to the Rye 10. Just like that, 3-0 went
to 16-0, and it was time to stick a Chenango Fork in Rye.
Both Garr and
Niehaus said that the snap counts, particularly in spread and
punt formations, were difficult because of the noise in the
Carrier Dome, and that the noise may have contributed to Niehaus'
lost snap on the quick kick. Rye also took a couple of costly,
if questionable, pass-interference penalties.
difficulties made New Rochelle's victory look even more
efficient than it was, even if the game had to be held up for
half an hour because three of the four buses carrying New
Rochelle and Webster Schroeder players couldn't make it up the
snow-covered hill to the stadium.
everything was simple for the Huguenots.
leads Chenango Forks over Rye 16-0 for state title
The Associated Press
11/29/2003, 2:01 p.m. ET
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Tim Batty threw for one touchdown, ran
for another and kicked a 36-yard field goal to lead the Chenango
Forks Blue Devils to a 16-0 win over the Rye Garnets on Saturday
for the NYSPHSAA Class-B football title.
Chenango Forks gave up yards
grudgingly to a high-powered Rye offense, keeping the game
scoreless through the first half.
Batty's field goal came with
4:35 left in the third quarter. That capped a 10-play, 40-yard
drive set up by a fumble recovery by Alex Williams.
"I knew if our defense
came through that our offense would eventually put points on the
board," said Batty, named most valuable player.
"Our defense has carried
us all year long," Chenango Forks head coach Kelsey Green
said. "Our offense has been a group that has been
opportunistic and put up points when they had to."
Batty engineered the first
touchdown drive from the 43-yard line after Rye quarterback John
Niehaus fumbled the snap on a fourth and four at the start of
the fourth quarter. Six plays later, under a heavy rush, Batty
hit tight end Zach Vredenburgh with a pass over the middle.
On Rye's next possession,
Niehaus dropped back to pass on first down at his own 25-yard
line. His receiver fell down and cornerback Matt Stephens
intercepted returning the ball to the 10. On fourth and inches,
the Blue Devils' offense line made a big push allowing Batty to
score on a quarterback sneak.
Blue Devils fullback Joe
Babcock ran 28 times for 107 yards.
On Rye's opening drive in the
first half, Chenango Forks safety Ben Farnham knocked down a
likely touchdown pass intended for Kevin Baine on third down
near the five-yard line. The Rye drive stalled at the Chenango
The Blue Devils then drove to
the Rye 10 but Batty missed a 27-yard field goal.
Late in the second half,
Vredenburgh at defensive end made a key stop, sacking Niehaus
for a nine-yard loss. Then on fourth and seven, Stephens stopped
Baine on a pass only inches short of the first down.
The Blue Devils ran out the
Press & Sun-Bulletin preview article Saturday 11/23-
Forks' season-long practices lead to
BY STAFF AND
NEWS SERVICE REPORTS
at state Class B title
Twelve games down and one to go, but it's business as usual for
the Chenango Forks football team. That has been the prevailing
mind set on the practice field, where the top-ranked Blue Devils
(12-0) have been preparing for this morning's Class B state
football title game against Rye (12-0) in the Carrier Dome.
Kickoff is scheduled for 10
"If you walked out there
and watched us practice compared to Week 5 or Week 10, I don't
think you'd notice any difference," said Kelsey Green, who
has coached Forks to the final for a third consecutive season.
A year ago, it was Rye's
Westchester County rival, Harrison High, that converted a
last-second field goal to capture a 22-21 championship-game
victory in the Dome.
Press & Sun-Bulletin preview article Friday 11/22-
Rye's balanced attack may pose problem for
Blue Devils hope third straight championship
appearance produces first title
Press & Sun-Bulletin
Unlike the last two weekends'
challenges, there is no individual with whom Chenango Forks must
be primarily concerned if it is to maintain its unbeaten
On Saturday morning in the
Carrier Dome, a versatile and balanced squad from Rye High in
Westchester County will stand between the Blue Devils and the
Class B state football championship. Kickoff is scheduled for 10
The teams come in with matching 12-0 records. Forks -- in the
final for a third consecutive season -- is ranked first by the
New York State Sports Writers Association. The winner will have
secured its school's first state football championship.
The Garnets of Rye have scored 32.8 points per game, rushed
for a 246.2-yard average and defeated all but one opponent by 13
or more points this season. They've done so with an offense far
less predictable than that of either of Forks' first two state
The rushing leader is Eddie Urso, a 190-pound senior who has
produced 1,260 yards and 15 touchdowns. Will Donahue, another
190-pound senior, has scored 16 TDs and rushed for 790 yards on
a 5.9-per-carry average.
"They've got a variety of weapons and they run a variety
of stuff," Forks coach Kelsey Green said. "It's a
little different from the last two weeks when teams have
featured a single running back."
"We'll have to play our game, get our reads down, don't
allow big gains and get the ball back to the offense," said
Chris Pease, Forks' senior nose guard/center.
Running Rye's offense is 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior
quarterback John Niehaus, an Ivy League-bound A-student whose 53
pass completions have gone for 1,039 yards and 14 TDs against
"If we can run the ball, we'll run it," said Dino
Garr, who is in his 22nd season coaching Rye and his 28th
overall. "If not, we'll open it up a little bit. It'll be a
chess match, we'll probe and see what we can come up with.
"Chenango Forks plays very solid defense with tremendous
linebacker play. It'll be a struggle to move the football
against them. Offensively, they just don't make mistakes, and
they've got an outstanding quarterback who runs that team very
well along with a tough-running fullback and a couple of backs
who complement him well."
Defensively, Rye is expected to show a four-man front that
Forks has not encountered in recent ballgames, and -- as is the
case with Forks -- an ample number of double-duty players.
"We have to do a much better job of moving the football
than we did in the first half (of the semifinal against Eden),
obviously," Green said, alluding to the 40 yards of offense
his squad had logged before intermission.
If there exists a Dome-field advantage favoring either side,
logic would dictate Forks has the edge.
For starters, the Blue Devils will be playing there for the
second time in three weeks -- this contest following a
last-minute quarterfinal victory Nov. 15 over Westhill. Too, an
assortment of Forks players were in uniform during last year's
title chase, which twice brought them to Syracuse.
Rye will make its first start in a state championship game
since the inaugural 1993 playoffs, when as a Class C participant
it dropped a 38-19 game to Caledonia-Mumford. Plans call for
Rye's players to make the trip to Syracuse today -- and for its
spectator bus to depart the school's parking lot at 4 a.m.
"We know, we keep talking about it," Garr said of
the newness of the experience for his players. "But until
we get up there and step on the field, there will be some
Rye's is a senior-laden squad that has passed through two
rounds of state playoffs averaging 34 1/2 points scored and a
20-point victory margin. Forks has followed a different path,
its 31-point, two-game total good for margins of five and 10
points over Westhill and Eden, respectively.
A season ago, Forks' title-game opponent was Harrison High --
which in Westchester County football circles serves as the
Hatfield's to Rye High's McCoys. Harrison, in fact, plays a
brand of football that bears numerous similarities to that
played by Forks, and was beaten twice this season by Rye
Journal News preview
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